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Addicted to American Football: ProSieben Uncovers How to Build a Fanbase with #ranNFLschtig


Addicted to American football: ProSieben uncovers how to build a fanbase with #ranNFLs chtig By Michael Burns

Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 07:02

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Net Man: Christoph Icke' Dommisch. Since the 2015 NFL season , Dommisch has been Net Man' on ran's NFL broadcasts and hosts Coach's Corner together with Patrick Esume

With the emergence of the European League of Football (ELF), and the continued rise in interest in American football in Germany in particular, now is perfect timing to take a look at how German free-to-air networks ProSieben and ProSieben MAXX have driven popularity in the game, both through its broadcast strategy and by taking advantage of a social media phenomenon.

ProSieben, part of the ProSiebenSat.1 Media giant, has a long history with professional American football, first broadcasting the Super Bowl in 1999. That was combined with coverage of NFL Europe, the European League created by the NFL and featuring European teams.

According to Alexander R sner, senior vice president of sports at Seven.One Sports, this was almost all produced and organised from the US by the NFL itself. We broadcast the Super Bowl on Sunday nights, and a magazine show on Saturday nights, he says. That was our first experience with the NFL; it was pretty good, but it ended in 2003.

Line up: The team covering the NFL for ProSieben MAXX, ProSieben and

Taking the next step

Seven.One Sports, the sports business unit of ProSiebenSat.1, took up the rights again in 2012 when ProSieben broadcast the Super Bowl, but after seeing the growing popularity of the game in Germany and identifying that its very keen fan community corresponded with the target demographic for the channel, it was decided to take things up a level.

We said let's take the next step, and broadcast a regular game for the whole season every Sunday, recalls R sner. The discussion then was whether there were enough people in Germany willing to watch [as much as] two NFL games every Sunday.

The NFL regular season begins in the second weekend in September and ends in late December or early January. Typically, the majority of each weeks' games are played on Sunday afternoon. All playoff games and the Super Bowl take place on either Saturday or Sunday in January and early February. With the time difference, the NFL games broadcast in the US on a Sunday would playout at 7pm and around 10pm on a Sunday evening in Germany. The strategic decision was taken to go all in.

We decided to broadcast a doubleheader every Sunday on our smaller male-oriented channel ProSieben MAXX, says R sner It was a very risky decision, but [in the end] definitely the right one in order to build up a community and to start our story.

Attracting the fans

ProSieben MAXX on average has a market share of 1.7% in the target group aged 14 to 49, says R sner. When we started broadcasting the doubleheaders in 2015, from the very beginning in both the early and the late slot we hit a market share of 2.7%; last season that number rose to 5.2%.

To give that increase some perspective, this early slot is the most competitive on German TV. Primetime on Sundays is the time when most people watch television in Germany, R sner says. In total numbers, we expanded our reach from 280,000 viewers, on average, to 440,000 viewers every Sunday in both slots combined.

Year by year our Super Bowl broadcasts deliver record-breaking TV ratings, he adds. 2.23 million people on average watched Super Bowl LV last February on ProSieben till four in the morning, representing a market share of 58.4% in our target group of people aged 14 to 49.

So what's the reason for this success? There are a number of factors, according to R sner. First of all, this sport is amazing. At the end of the day, it's always the sport that is the reason for the success of a sports broadcast. [American] football is the most popular sport in the USA, and historically it had a small fanbase in Germany. But as special interest content, football was mostly broadcast on pay-TV channels with limited access, often in the middle of the night. It was not trendy back then. What we did was open the window and give this fantastic game a stage on free-to-air television.

The games running on ProSieben MAXX come straight from the US broadcasters feed - Fox, NBC or CBS - provided by NFL Media, coming live via London.

For the NFL's 2021 season ProSieben MAXX, ProSieben and broadcasts live games on free TV and in the free live stream, covering the preseason and the regular season to the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Pictured are the ran football team on ProSieben and ProSieben MAXX: [L to R] Volker Schenk, Roman Motzkus, Carsten Spengemann, Uwe Morawe, Christoph Icke Dommisch, Jan Stecker and Patrick Esume

The production values of the NFL are amazing, and not comparable to any other sports, not even the broadcasts of our most popular sports in England or in Germany, says R sner. They have so many cameras, so many views, and so many angles. That was new for the spectators in Germany. And then there's the sport itself, which has its superheroes, the quarterbacks, and their stories.

Another factor is the length of the season - fairly short by European standards and the regular time slot.

It always starts at the same time, on a Sunday where you don't have many other sports says R sner. This regular scheduling is something that people got used to very fast, they loved it and began to celebrate it as a fixed event within a fast-growing football community.

The final big factor was a combination of this emerging community and the way that ProSieben decided to approach the broadcasts. We did something brand new in Germany, says R sner. We integrated the community into our live broadcasts.

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