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Selling The Drama


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3 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

Association Football had to break away from the toffs running it. 
They didn’t seem to do so badly.

That's not quite true. The professional took over the FA Cup from the 1880s onwards, such that the FA Amateur Cup came into being to give the corinthians something to win. The professional breakaway - the Football League, Football Combination etc - were all quickly aligned within the same overall game even if tensions remained. There was never any schism in football.

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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8 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

It’s absolutely nothing to do with Bradford Bulls and their success or otherwise. 

My point was wider than you, are you genuinely suggesting the atmosphere around Bradford is as positive about RL as when the Bulls were pulling in up to 20k+? Because that'd be a bit of a phenomenon. 

I know in Warrington it was far more negative when we had David Plange as our coach and had the likes of Doc Murray playing for us in a naff ground. 

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1 minute ago, Dave T said:

Depends what criteria we want to select. 

Revenues are growing, with record income at the moment from TV. 

2019 delivered a record tv figure for the GF. 2020 was just behind that. 

2019 saw the record SL crowd smashed. 

I don't disagree with your overall point about growth slowing, but I would describe it as plataeuing rather than stagnating. And I do agree that we now need a next generation strategy to drive us on from this level. But I think it will be step change rather than anything revolutionary.

I share many of your frustrations, but my landing position is less negative than yours I'd say. 

I do think we're in a period of retrenchment which will require major work to overcome.

But the idea that we need to create a narrative to sell the club season - and that this will boost attendances and viewing figures - is, at best, fanciful.

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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9 minutes ago, Dunbar said:

What Rugby Union has done well to grow their domestic game in England is:

1. Leverage big 'events' to grow the brand

In the 2018-19 season, there was an aggregate attendance of1,958,402 across 135 games in the Premiership (including the final at Twickenham which had 75,329 in attendance).

There were 5 'event' games played in year, three at Twickenham, one at London Stadium and one at St James Park.  Together these 5 games attracted 252,166 people.  To put this into context, this is around one fifth of the attendees of Super League 2019 in which we played 178 games.

2. Leverage the value and marketing opportunity of internationals

People lament in Rugby League that we have no household names... no recognizable stars of our game.  Union does but I absolutely guarantee that they are not recognizable because of their club games... Owen Farrell plays his games in front of around 9k home fans.  He is the biggest name in the sport because of what he does for the national side.

It seems to me to be so obvious that growing international League and creating more events is the way to go.  Not to ape Union but simply because it works.   

Agree with this, and we've often brought up the events point on these boards. I think we have done a bit of it with Magic, Bash, Semis, but the sporadic games at Elland Road and Barcelona need to be part of an ongoing strategy imo. 

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10 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

I do think we're in a period of retrenchment which will require major work to overcome.

But the idea that we need to create a narrative to sell the club season - and that this will boost attendances and viewing figures - is, at best, fanciful.

I don't think the issues are as deep-rooted as others do. I do think it needs some decent strategic leadership to coordinate and navigate us through the next period. 

But there are more than enough positive signs to make me feel that the future can be bright. 

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17 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

So how do you expect people not otherwise aware of RL to begin either watching it or at least show an interest? Hope for the best? Assume they’ll read a story on Twitter and become hooked?

Theres absolutely nothing fanciful about giving people a reason to check something out. It’s why soaps have these occasional disasters whereby a plane lands in Amos’ pub in Emmerdale Farm etc etc. Not everyone will watch but it gets enough casual viewers to boost their numbers and gradually get bigger. 
 

They could of course say ‘as if a plane would crash into a village’ - next! 

Unless I've missed it, and I have asked, nobody has yet posted an example of a sport growing itself by selling narratives.

The sport needs to sell the sport. Soap operas are selling soap operas. It would be odd if they decided to sell themselves based on the introduction of golden point extra time if plots are level at the end of the regular episode.

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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1 hour ago, gingerjon said:

It would be odd if they decided to sell themselves based on the introduction of golden point extra time if plots are level at the end of the regular episode.

I can just imagine it now. Waiting to watch the Warrington-Wigan game, only for the missus to deny me as Eastenders has run into extra time while two soap characters scramble to be first to bump off Danny Dyer.

In fact I’d probably watch it, which goes to show golden point does work after all 😁

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2 hours ago, Johnoco said:

I’m perfectly aware there was no schism in football. But it once was as much a toffs game as Rugby. The it became popular- very quickly. They could have sat back and complained that the toffs didn’t like this and were holding them back. But they just got on with spreading their game as fast as possible. 
 

RL is like Jim Royle still blaming Thatcher for him not working. 

Difficult to disagree with your final sentence... always easier to sit back and blame all and sundry... yep difficulties pop up or circumstances inhibit but more positive people will try to overcome/move on rather than just constantly bemoan...

Its often an attitude problem more than anything else that prevents any forward direction, however small they may be.

Edited by redjonn
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4 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

As is your right.
But the historical evidence of treatment of any new club, from Merthyr Tydfil to Toronto shows that any problems will be blamed on that new club and no accommodation will be given to any problems that they may encounter. And then they will be declared a failure and a reason why RL should stay in the areas it is in.
 

It’s a never ending self fulfilling cycle, it really doesn’t get much more deep rooted than that.

Oh but at the same time, RL should be treated like cricket, football and RU. 

There is more to RL than TWP. 

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2 hours ago, gingerjon said:

Unless I've missed it, and I have asked, nobody has yet posted an example of a sport growing itself by selling narratives.

The sport needs to sell the sport. Soap operas are selling soap operas. It would be odd if they decided to sell themselves based on the introduction of golden point extra time if plots are level at the end of the regular episode.

I would say F1, WWE (I know, I know), UFC, American Football off the top of my head. I would even say the NRL had some great narratives that boosted interest at the start of this year. 

1. Panthers are now Nathan Cleary’s team, how will they go?

2. Roosters to attempt first three peat since turn of the 80s.

3. Smith to bow out? If so, as a winner?

4. Bennet v Siebold

5. Rule changes and one referee

6. SOO didn’t stay out of headlines for long

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It would be brilliant if just a couple of star players came out and said they bloody hate each other.

Woulda been brilliant if some up and comer at the start of this season called out SBW as an over the hill and overpaid player that has been breezing along in RU for the past 5 years and is gonna get belted when they face off.

Does any club have players that have come through the local juniors, academy and now firmly entrenched in the first team that wants to come out and say for example “I bloody love Hill KR and I have always hated Hull FC. Purely hate them.”

It would be great if there was a bit more personality in the game and open opinions from the players/coaches that would help build the hysteria to bring the eyeballs. The action and on the field and experience in the stands can then bring those eyeballs back.

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11 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

It would be brilliant if just a couple of star players came out and said they bloody hate each other.

Woulda been brilliant if some up and comer at the start of this season called out SBW as an over the hill and overpaid player that has been breezing along in RU for the past 5 years and is gonna get belted when they face off.

Does any club have players that have come through the local juniors, academy and now firmly entrenched in the first team that wants to come out and say for example “I bloody love Hill KR and I have always hated Hull FC. Purely hate them.”

It would be great if there was a bit more personality in the game and open opinions from the players/coaches that would help build the hysteria to bring the eyeballs. The action and on the field and experience in the stands can then bring those eyeballs back.

That’s the last thing the game needs. 

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32 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

I would say F1, WWE (I know, I know), UFC, American Football off the top of my head. I would even say the NRL had some great narratives that boosted interest at the start of this year. 

1. Panthers are now Nathan Cleary’s team, how will they go?

2. Roosters to attempt first three peat since turn of the 80s.

3. Smith to bow out? If so, as a winner?

4. Bennet v Siebold

5. Rule changes and one referee

6. SOO didn’t stay out of headlines for long

Genuinely, do you have anything the NRL itself produced that covers those areas?

I still think these feel like things that will be of interest to the already more than casual supporter.

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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4 hours ago, GUBRATS said:

Very true , it does seem like we've ' topped out ' a bit , so why is that ? , And what do we need to push on again ?

In all seriousness, I think some answers or inspiration can be found in other Sports/Leagues.

The NRL overfund a team in Melbourne To ensure they have a presence in that city. RU has established clubs in cities/areas with weak to no football present such as Exeter and Worcester (on top of the clubs like Bath and Gloucester that were "picked" initially), and that is just in England. They've also encouraged clubs like Sale, Wasps, Newcastle and before their collapse the Leeds based team to be regional sides in effect. Within our own League Toronto demonstrated a way to very quickly get a new audience. Even the premier league encourage clubs, and their owners, to spend money, if they could, to catch up to the top teams (and since some notable examples they have changed the rules to try make sure this wouldn't result in collapse). Of course in the UK, internationals seem to be a no brainer as they are for Cricket and Union - something our game has increasingly found difficult to balance with the club game.

I also think fundamentally investment both in hard cash terms and even conceptually is a problem. Having the cap not rise for so many years weakened our competition and equally led to the top teams "investing" less into their playing budget. The atmosphere around the sport shifted from invest for growth to the horrible word "sustainability". Which I'm sure from your business experience you will know how that is code for "how little can we put in to still function". 

I think plateau is a good way of describing it. But that should also be balanced by how standing still is going backwards.

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I think some very valid points have been raised by both sides here and I am very much of the opinion that its a little from column A and a little from column B.

With regards RU I think it pretty poor not to acknowledge the great strides that have been taken from little. From a position of smaller attendances and exactly the same salary cap on its introduction they have pushed on and grown significantly. RU has pursued a much more aggressive strategy and not been held hostage by its weaker clubs. Its lack of professional history and historic clubs has probably helped massively in that regard. RL has tried to placate everyone and bring everyone along and treaded water somewhat.

I think the extent that the game has grown or shrunk is pretty hard to define and depends on you point of view. Yes some clubs have grown and some are in a far better place than a couple of decades ago but others less so. For every Warrington, Catalans or Huddersfield we have had a Bradford, Widnes or Oldham and in some areas the game at amateur level seems to have gone backwards at a rate of knots. The Grand Final has taken off, and is a great event, but that has coincided with the decline of the Challenge Cup. I certainly think the profile of the game is lower than it was, newspaper column inches is at an all time low as far as I can see, and anecdotal evidence to me suggests it doesn't have the same automatic following in the heartlands that it once did.

Yes RU, and other sports, have massive advantages but it has been ever so and the establishment, old school network and downright snobbery is nigh on impossible to overcome. We know that and nothing will change in this area. It hasn't during my lifetime. Blaming it for all our ills and lack of progress ultimately may make us feel better but it gets us nowhere and ultimately after doing so we are still just stuck in the same place.

The question is what do we do as a sport to overcome that. If we are not getting column inches and publicity then as a sport we need to change that and in this day and age that has never been easier. There is no excuse for not having a dedicated media department churning out news stories and match reports and providing them free to whoever wants them. Similarly with the likes of YouTube and whatever else. A couple of young tech savvy graduates could work wonders. We don't have a compliant media but we can make it a heck of a lot easier for them not to ignore us. There is no excuse for not giving freebies and wining and dining journalists to get column inches. I don't like it but it works, play the game. There is no excuse for not playing internationals and not creating more events to appeal to journalists and blue chip sponsors, who you then wine and dine. There is no excuse when it comes to being ashamed of internationals and hiding them away on a Thursday night in Leigh or Salford. As a game we can certainly do what we can control much, much better.

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49 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

It would be brilliant if just a couple of star players came out and said they bloody hate each other.

Woulda been brilliant if some up and comer at the start of this season called out SBW as an over the hill and overpaid player that has been breezing along in RU for the past 5 years and is gonna get belted when they face off.

Does any club have players that have come through the local juniors, academy and now firmly entrenched in the first team that wants to come out and say for example “I bloody love Hill KR and I have always hated Hull FC. Purely hate them.”

It would be great if there was a bit more personality in the game and open opinions from the players/coaches that would help build the hysteria to bring the eyeballs. The action and on the field and experience in the stands can then bring those eyeballs back.

I've wondered this a few times when watching boxing. It'd certainly be more interesting but probably pretty naff 🤣

The pre-match views are dire though, I agree there. 

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1 hour ago, gingerjon said:

Genuinely, do you have anything the NRL itself produced that covers those areas?

I still think these feel like things that will be of interest to the already more than casual supporter.

I’m not sure if the NRL App geo blocks content to the UK, but yes, there would have been tonnes of it, let alone in the rest of the mainstream media.

You are probably right in your second paragraph, but in saying that, NRL is the second biggest code in Australia, so their priority would be more to keep momentum and interest rather than specifically target new followers. The overbearing media coverage of those stories and more will probably look to turn very young eyeballs from those of passing interest, to those of fanaticism.

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5 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

Well it’s ok to disagree. Perhaps you can give your reasoning why you think that?

Because it would just feed the narrative that the UK press love of the game being for ignorant thugs 

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8 minutes ago, Sports Prophet said:

I’m not sure if the NRL App geo blocks content to the UK, but yes, there would have been tonnes of it, let alone in the rest of the mainstream media.

You are probably right in your second paragraph, but in saying that, NRL is the second biggest code in Australia, so their priority would be more to keep momentum and interest rather than specifically target new followers. The overbearing media coverage of those stories and more will probably look to turn very young eyeballs from those of passing interest, to those of fanaticism.

It's a fair point. I think rugby league in this country is literally at the point of needing to remind as many people as possible that it even exists. (Not quite in the rather basic way that I think @Johnoco fears - but it's why I'm pleased that the new Challenge Cup deal gives the RFL the ability to retain and use digital content for whatever it wants, and why I'm hopeful that the RLWC being a genuine opportunity (again). I think we're so far from the point where 'narratives' can have any impact.

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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1 hour ago, Dave T said:

I've wondered this a few times when watching boxing. It'd certainly be more interesting but probably pretty naff 🤣

The pre-match views are dire though, I agree there. 

Do bear in mind that boxing is even smaller in this country than rugby league.

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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Just now, gingerjon said:

Do bear in mind that boxing is even smaller in this country than rugby league.

Aye. And when I say watching boxing, I mean watching the weigh-in on SSN because I'm too cheap to pay £25!

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5 minutes ago, GUBRATS said:

Because it would just feed the narrative that the UK press love of the game being for ignorant thugs 

Personally, I think that is untrue. I think the SL has such minimal media footprint in the UK, that there is no narrative for RL. My entire point of this thread.

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1 minute ago, Sports Prophet said:

Personally, I think that is untrue. I think the SL has such minimal media footprint in the UK, that there is no narrative for RL. My entire point of this thread.

Your opinion as relevant as mine 

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