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1 hour ago, whatmichaelsays said:

What is it that the RL clubs are so afraid of when it comes to trying to reach new people? 

Good article in the FT today on how 'fan capture' of organisations leads to atrophy, and what can be done about it.

What I found interesting was that these superfans often include an organisation's producers and leaders as well as its core consumers.  

Lots of this visible in rugby league. 

https://www.ft.com/content/0134c4ae-9582-42fe-809c-eced441dfb65

[paywall, but I don't pay, so you probably get some free] 

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5 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

Good article in the FT today on how 'fan capture' of organisations leads to atrophy, and what can be done about it.

What I found interesting was that these superfans often include an organisation's producers and leaders as well as its core consumers.  

Lots of this visible in rugby league. 

https://www.ft.com/content/0134c4ae-9582-42fe-809c-eced441dfb65

[paywall, but I don't pay, so you probably get some free] 

A decent read and I agree, lots of parallels with what RL is going through. 

A lot of ideas that get floated on here often get met with "but why would I want that?", "how does that appeal to me?" or "I only turn up for the game - why would I be interested in....?, as if the future of RL has to be moulded in the exact image of the current supporter base. As long people have that mindset, it's very difficult for the sport to change.

 

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1 hour ago, whatmichaelsays said:

This isn't just a sports issue either. It happens across all of the business and entertainment world. 

I think I've used this comparison before, but Porsche has a dedicated following of enthusiasts - the sort of people who join owners clubs and buy the branded merchandise - who were absolutely outraged when the company started making SUVs. To these people, they "weren't proper Porsches", they wouldn't be bought by "proper Porsche drivers" and these products would "kill the brand". Yet the Cayenne SUV now outsells the 911, Boxter and Spyder models combined and Porsche is now (if I recall rightly) the most profitable car manufacturer in the world. 

You might roll your eyes at comparing RL to a premium sports car manufacturer, but the problems that the two entities faced is the same - there are only so many people willing or able to buy one product and, as consumer tastes shifted, that group of people was getting smaller, so you need to adapt. You can cater to new audiences and yes, whilst it might irk your "hardcore" or "legacy fans" who buy the club memberships and wear the merchandise, it doesn't mean you have to abandon them entirely. There is room for both to co-exist. 

There are other examples too. We have clubs taking money from Sky to play games in midweek, only to complain about having to play midweek because Thursday nights, and to some extent Fridays, aren't popular with match-going crowds. This was an issue the cinema industry had until it successfully turned Wednesday nights from the worst-performing night of the week to the second-most popular (after Saturday) by finding the sorts of audiences that were looking for something to do on Wednesday nights (students, young adults, DINKs, etc) and coming up with the right incentives. 

RL needs to get into that mindset of understanding what audiences are out there, which of those it wants to attract and what those audiences want. Whilst I know that suggestions of things like 9s splits the room here, what is to say that a 9s comp couldn't be RL's version of the Porsche Cayenne? Why can't Thursday nights be the night where RL succeeds in attracting that millennial crowd or DINK (dual income, no kids) couples who have plenty of spare time and don't have to worry about the following morning's school run? What is it that the RL clubs are so afraid of when it comes to trying to reach new people? 

Absolutely. Porsche used to be an old mans car brand. Now its an old mans car brand, and a glitzy SUV brand, and looks almost certain to be an F1 team in the next 5 years too.

Land Rover did a very similar rebranding exercise with Range Rover. 

Seems like we have a very monochrome view of our target market.

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Cricket has created an audience in Twenty Twenty cricket that is very different from their audience who watch county championship cricket. There’s a place for both audiences in cricket, regardless of what one group thinks of the other, and I do not think Rugby League is that different to cricket that something similar could happen within the game, if done properly. 

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26 minutes ago, Jughead said:

Cricket has created an audience in Twenty Twenty cricket that is very different from their audience who watch county championship cricket. There’s a place for both audiences in cricket, regardless of what one group thinks of the other, and I do not think Rugby League is that different to cricket that something similar could happen within the game, if done properly. 

Absolutely, but cue "you can't shorten a rugby league game, simple as" etc comments...

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3 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

Absolutely, but cue "you can't shorten a rugby league game, simple as" etc comments...

You can of course and perhaps that may be part of the future. But actually I think game length is always a bit of a distraction, in that cricket had a particular problem with the length of its matches which made it hard to attract certain types of spectators and was less than ideal for broadcasters. 

RL broadly has a fan and media friendly game length - the issue is what those games offer. 

For me the biggest lesson of T20 - and more specifically franchise cricket like the IPL and (dons hard hat) The Hundred - is the borrowing of players from their existing clubs for a short period, and packaging them up and selling them to a new audience.

Could we even dream of trying something like that? 

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42 minutes ago, Jughead said:

Cricket has created an audience in Twenty Twenty cricket that is very different from their audience who watch county championship cricket. 

some of that's desperation though - at 41 I'd lower the average age of a county championship spectator dramatically if they were more interested in actually scheduling matches over weekends where I actually stood a chance of being able to watch them.

as it is I tend to watch more T20 and one day than I otherwise would, simply because that's what's on on a Friday night or over the weekend. Neither is actually my preferred format though FWIW. 

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7 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

You can of course and perhaps that may be part of the future. But actually I think game length is always a bit of a distraction, in that cricket had a particular problem with the length of its matches which made it hard to attract certain types of spectators and was less than ideal for broadcasters. 

RL broadly has a fan and media friendly game length - the issue is what those games offer. 

For me the biggest lesson of T20 - and more specifically franchise cricket like the IPL and (dons hard hat) The Hundred - is the borrowing of players from their existing clubs for a short period, and packaging them up and selling them to a new audience.

Could we even dream of trying something like that? 

The Hundred and T20 are both already longer than a rugby league game that plays out two periods of golden point extra time.

If 9s is the answer (or some variant like 9s) then it is an answer to a different question.

What's interesting - insofar as anything about The Hundred is interesting - is that in this second season a lot of big name players who were available have not been signed. Instead, some of the biggest money has gone on players who might struggle to be recognised in their own living room but who can be pretty much guaranteed to be consistent and not likely to have any sudden last minute demands on their time from elsewhere.

So there's not a lot being put into it (and the marketing reflects this) about star names but there is, again, a huge amount about match day experience, value for money, and diversity.

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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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52 minutes ago, Jughead said:

Cricket has created an audience in Twenty Twenty cricket that is very different from their audience who watch county championship cricket. There’s a place for both audiences in cricket, regardless of what one group thinks of the other, and I do not think Rugby League is that different to cricket that something similar could happen within the game, if done properly. 

I think this oversimplifies something that cricket often, not always, does well.

It has multiple different audiences going to the same event.

Most grounds now have very distinct and obviously separate sections for the beer snakers versus the families, for those who are there to watch the cricket all day and not move versus those who are going to get up and check out the eateries and drinkeries behind the stands ... 

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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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2 minutes ago, iffleyox said:

some of that's desperation though - at 41 I'd lower the average age of a county championship spectator dramatically if they were more interested in actually scheduling matches over weekends where I actually stood a chance of being able to watch them.

as it is I tend to watch more T20 and one day than I otherwise would, simply because that's what's on on a Friday night or over the weekend. Neither is actually my preferred format though FWIW. 

But don't the numbers speak for themselves? I know it's not often enough for loyal red ball fans, but there ARE county championship games on at the weekend, even in high summer this year. They get a fraction of the audience that the Blast does. 

Cricket bit the bullet and realised it had to come up with an offer that reached beyond its existing fans, as important and loyal as they are. 

As @whatmichaelsays says, rugby league isnt even sure if it wants a new audiences, and if it does, which ones?

Until we answer that, we can't even start to think HOW to attract it. 

 

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16 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

You can of course and perhaps that may be part of the future. But actually I think game length is always a bit of a distraction, in that cricket had a particular problem with the length of its matches which made it hard to attract certain types of spectators and was less than ideal for broadcasters. 

RL broadly has a fan and media friendly game length - the issue is what those games offer. 

For me the biggest lesson of T20 - and more specifically franchise cricket like the IPL and (dons hard hat) The Hundred - is the borrowing of players from their existing clubs for a short period, and packaging them up and selling them to a new audience.

Could we even dream of trying something like that? 

I think Union does something similar, they call it the Six Nations or something???

I agree, match length isn't our main issue at all, but a more diverse offering in all respects will be logically be involved in securing a more diverse audience generally.

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5 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

The Hundred and T20 are both already longer than a rugby league game that plays out two periods of golden point extra time.

If 9s is the answer (or some variant like 9s) then it is an answer to a different question.

What's interesting - insofar as anything about The Hundred is interesting - is that in this second season a lot of big name players who were available have not been signed. Instead, some of the biggest money has gone on players who might struggle to be recognised in their own living room but who can be pretty much guaranteed to be consistent and not likely to have any sudden last minute demands on their time from elsewhere.

So there's not a lot being put into it (and the marketing reflects this) about star names but there is, again, a huge amount about match day experience, value for money, and diversity.

Interesting. And to be frank, if we tried some sort of city-based franchise tournament the vast majority of the audience we were targeting wouldn't know who any of the players were. Perhaps it wouldn't matter. I think the biggest thought would go into tweaking the rules to enable a high scoring end-to-end contest and selecting the players that fitted that. 

I can but dream! 

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3 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

I think Union does something similar, they call it the Six Nations or something???

I agree, match length isn't our main issue at all, but a more diverse offering in all respects will be logically be involved in securing a more diverse audience generally.

After posting I immediately thought "well, that could be internationals of course." 

But the truth is it won't be.

It's common on here to call for boosting the international game. In pronciple that's correct and I hope it happens.

But the facts of where the talent is and who controls it means, in my view, that's it's just not going to be the gamechanger that northen Hemisphere league needs. 

Others may be more hopeful something can be done and I'm sure we'll debate it in the future.

But that's the conclusion I come to, hence my search for a way to reinvigorate/repackage what we do control. 

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2 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

Interesting. And to be frank, if we tried some sort of city-based franchise tournament the vast majority of the audience we were targeting wouldn't know who any of the players were. Perhaps it wouldn't matter. I think the biggest thought would go into tweaking the rules to enable a high scoring end-to-end contest and selecting the players that fitted that. 

I can but dream! 

I have made this point before. If we were to recreate a Hundred style franchise tourney in Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Prague, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and My Back Garden, we wouldn't need to worry about 'quality' in the sense of needing to get the best players from the NRL or even Super League (although it almost certainly would hoover up the latter cos they are achingly cheap). Eight evenly matched teams where the halves know rugby league and the rest can be trusted to tackle and catch a ball would sell the game more than well enough if the game day experience was consistently of a high enough quality value-wise.

The key would always be in the words 'evenly matched'. Nobody is getting interested in a franchise league if it's anything other than that - so that would need to be rigged and re-rigged every season.

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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10 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

I think this oversimplifies something that cricket often, not always, does well.

It has multiple different audiences going to the same event.

Most grounds now have very distinct and obviously separate sections for the beer snakers versus the families, for those who are there to watch the cricket all day and not move versus those who are going to get up and check out the eateries and drinkeries behind the stands ... 

Multiple audiences attend rugby league. My Dad has no interest in standing behind the sticks for eighty minutes singing and shouting, my cousin on the other hand wouldn’t be comfortable sat in a hospitality section for the day or sat around a load of “pensioners eating their sandwiches” (his words) as neither are where he feels are his place at a game. 

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Just now, Jughead said:

Multiple audiences attend rugby league.

Not really and not enough of them.

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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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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

The key would always be in the words 'evenly matched'. Nobody is getting interested in a franchise league if it's anything other than that - so that would need to be rigged and re-rigged every season.

Works for the NFL! 

Edited by Toby Chopra
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3 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

Not really and not enough of them.

Multiple audiences do. There’s enough evidence across Super League of this. Enough of them? Well, no. 

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

I think this oversimplifies something that cricket often, not always, does well.

It has multiple different audiences going to the same event.

Most grounds now have very distinct and obviously separate sections for the beer snakers versus the families, for those who are there to watch the cricket all day and not move versus those who are going to get up and check out the eateries and drinkeries behind the stands ... 

I think that's a big point. 

RL is good at catering for the "I just want to stand on the terraces, have a pint and go home" crowd. With Magic (and to some extent, the Grand Final), we are good at catering to the "lads day out / stag weekend / booze-up" crowd. But what other crowds are we actually good at catering to? Yes some clubs do a bit of corporate hospitality and we do some cheap tickets for kids, but where are the initiatives to attract the real growth audiences that are going to broaden the appeal of the sport and the clubs?  

A point came up in the CF Semi final discussion about how the premium section was especially sparse, but the question there is surely whether that particular combination of RL, the CC and Elland Road offers the sort of experience that the sort of people who can drop £50 on a day at the sport expect? If it does, do we communicate that well enough? If it doesn't, why not? 

Again, this conversation doesn't necessarily have to go down the familiar rabbit holes of new formats or new teams in new cities or franchised comps - some of those may be part of a long-term answer but for the moment, there are numerous and sizeable audience segments right on RL's doorstep that the clubs don't seem to be motivated, or don't seem to know how, to try and appeal to - and that's something that the RFL and all of the club owners need to be challenged on. 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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2 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

Works for the NFL! 

Exactly.

The cricket franchise leagues tend to use a policy of either retained lists followed by open market, or a draft/auction, or some variant of the two. Keeps it all fun.

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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18 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

The Hundred and T20 are both already longer than a rugby league game that plays out two periods of golden point extra time.

If 9s is the answer (or some variant like 9s) then it is an answer to a different question.

What's interesting - insofar as anything about The Hundred is interesting - is that in this second season a lot of big name players who were available have not been signed. Instead, some of the biggest money has gone on players who might struggle to be recognised in their own living room but who can be pretty much guaranteed to be consistent and not likely to have any sudden last minute demands on their time from elsewhere.

So there's not a lot being put into it (and the marketing reflects this) about star names but there is, again, a huge amount about match day experience, value for money, and diversity.

 

16 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

I think this oversimplifies something that cricket often, not always, does well.

It has multiple different audiences going to the same event.

Most grounds now have very distinct and obviously separate sections for the beer snakers versus the families, for those who are there to watch the cricket all day and not move versus those who are going to get up and check out the eateries and drinkeries behind the stands ... 

I think these two posts are right. 

We need to be very clear about what question we are answering. Thinking we can add a new format of the game like Cricket did is an odd concept to me, I see zero benefit in that. T20 solved a genuine problem - it provided a shorter format of the game with a more family friendly and fun atmosphere against the stuffiness of County Cricket.

Your point about different audiences is key for me - and this is the problem we should be solving. Diversifying our audience is key - we already have bigger numbers than some of the sports who get praise - but we do struggle for sponsors, investors, hospitality sales etc. when we have been one-dimensional in our aims - cheap and cheerful. That leads to the situation we find ourselves in where we cant increase our salary cap.

The packaging/presentation of the regular game is key on a week by week basis - our offering needs improving and to appeal to wider groups of people, and I don't mean on the field which imho is nowhere near saturation point.

We then need to supersize that for our events to maximise them and make them showpieces for the game. 

We need to focus on internationals. More of them, in better grounds, as bigger events.

And we need the infrastructure behind the scenes to be right - first class digital offerings, content and broadcasting packages. 

I think most of that can be done without changes to the game of Rugby, and probably within the existing competition structure. 

I'm not against new formats, comps etc. (expanded WCC would be the thing to fight for, but think its not happening), but I don't think a new format would fix the problems we have.

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2 minutes ago, Jughead said:

Multiple audiences do. There’s enough evidence across Super League of this. Enough of them? Well, no. 

So, what I'd be really interested in is what percentage of the crowd - whether the lads behind the post or the pensioners in the stand - come from the rugby league "community"? ie it's a family tradition to support the club, and/or they've played at school/community level? 

My sense is a very high percentage of rugby league spectators tick one of those boxes. Is that fair? 

If it is, how do we get better at attracting the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the vicinity of an M62  rugby league club but don't already have a link to the game?

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8 minutes ago, Jughead said:

Multiple audiences do. There’s enough evidence across Super League of this. Enough of them? Well, no. 

 

12 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

Not really and not enough of them.

Multiple audiences isn't the issue. The issue is those that we under-index in are those that are attractive to broadcasters, sponsors and pack out your corporate boxes etc,

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10 minutes ago, Toby Chopra said:

After posting I immediately thought "well, that could be internationals of course." 

But the truth is it won't be.

It's common on here to call for boosting the international game. In pronciple that's correct and I hope it happens.

But the facts of where the talent is and who controls it means, in my view, that's it's just not going to be the gamechanger that northen Hemisphere league needs. 

Others may be more hopeful something can be done and I'm sure we'll debate it in the future.

But that's the conclusion I come to, hence my search for a way to reinvigorate/repackage what we do control. 

It just struck me that your comment around packaging players into a new wrapper and selling to different audiences was exactly what Union does with its Six Nations tournaments. Even on the minuscule level, Schools Rugby gets a new audience involved in and around the sport and reinforces ties too.

Multiple connections, or ways to connect into the game are needed. Hence why annual England games in London and elsewhere are key for me. 

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14 minutes ago, Jughead said:

Multiple audiences do. There’s enough evidence across Super League of this. Enough of them? Well, no. 

Arguably the same audience at different stages in their life is what you described. That's fine, so long as their is a constant flow up from the bottom. 

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