NFL Embraces New Fan Base

15 10 2009

If you watched the Monday Night Football game between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets, then you probably noticed some Hispanic flair — you should get used to it.

National Football League (http://tinyurl.com/nm5ctx)

National Football League (http://tinyurl.com/nm5ctx)

 The first call of the National Football League’s Monday night game was in Spanish, Hank Williams sang in Spanish with Gloria Esteban, and the camera never strayed too far from dancing minority Dolphin owner Marc Anthony.  Officially this was to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, but unofficially it was to celebrate the NFL’s under-tapped Hispanic fan base.

According to NFLHispanic.com, over 2.5 million more Hispanics on average watched Super Bowl XLIII than the World Cup Final, eight out of 10 young Hispanic males are NFL fans, and 28.5 million Hispanics watched NFL football games during the 2008 season.

These fans are virtual dollar signs for the NFL, but they have gone  greatly unrecognized – until now.

According to Hispanic Sports Business at HispanicMarketWeekly.com, NFL director of marketing Peter O’Reilly is “developing, finalizing, and launching initiatives and outreach designed to tap into a growing Hispanic fan base.”

One such initiative is NFLLatino.com, a site created in part and run by Univision.com.  The site is completely in Spanish and uses videos, blogs, fantasy features, and Hispanic player profiles to reach out to previously ignored Spanish speaking fans.

While the NFL sees these fans as a significant source of potential income in terms of ticket and merchandise sales, it believes the real value in this fan base will result from advertisers seeking to connect to the same market.

The NFL provides a number of different streams on which their sponsors can advertise to  Hispanic football fans; in addition to the NFLLatino website these include: Univision Radio, impreMedia’s 10 Spanish-language newspapers, and original NFL programming on ESPN Deportes, Fox Sports en Español, Telemundo, and Univision, said Hispanic Market Weekly.

According to the HMW site, the NFL’s three largest Hispanic-seeking sponsors are Sprint, Coors, and Pepsi-Cola, though these companies will surely be joined by other household names as the NFL continues to connect to their Spanish-speaking fans.

“We definitely have a lot of work to do, but we have started to build the framework and engage more Hispanic-dominant, first-generation with the game,” said O’Reilly at HispanicMarketWeekly.com.   “We’ve seen the passion and interest in the game is already there, and I think we’ve started to provide the entry points.”

Fútbol isn’t just soccer anymore.

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