Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dan Patrick Reports Rams and Chargers Moving To LA? NFL Network Studios to Hollywood Park?

Dan Patrick spilled some major gossip on his show regarding the NFL's future in LA as well as how it could affect the NFL Network. According to what Patrick's sources are telling him, the Rams and Chargers will be moving to LA soon and the NFL Network will get their own new studios built together with the stadium.

You can listen here via Podcast One beginning at 22:59:
"The deal between the Rams and Chargers could be on. Now we were waiting to see if it was going to be the Chargers and Raiders, now it looks like it could be the Rams and the Chargers. You know Stan Kroenke's gonna build this place in Hollywood Park. From what I'm hearing also having a TV studio there to have the NFL Network housed at Hollywood Park. So if you're the NFL and you're you got a new stadium, everybody's gonna benefit with the revenue stream here, you get two teams, which is what I've been told all along. They want two teams and you might even have a team in there by next year playing in Los Angeles. You might. But Stan Kroenke, the owner of the Rams, that to me was a foregone conclusion that he was going. The question is who is going to be the odd man out. And it looks like its going to be the Raiders. But, uh, that's the latest news. The owner's meeting yesterday. And it seems like its a foregone conclusion now that Los Angeles will get at least 1 team. But yeah they're gonna have a TV studio there, you're gonna have the NFL Network there and Stan Kroenke could say here you go I'll give this to you NFL, how can you turn that down."     
A piece in the San Diego Union Tribune captures the essence of why Stan Kroenke's proposition may be so intriguing to NFL owners. Veteran NFL reporter Kevin Acee spoke to Colts owner Jim Irsay about his vision for the NFL's site in LA which seems to match the reports Patrick is hearing:

“It would be exciting if this site is a place … (that) has a Disneyland sort of feel where it is a real location where people go to,” Irsay said. 
The thought by Irsay, as well as other owners and league executives, is that the NFL Network would be located on whichever L.A. site is chosen, and there has been talk of an NFL museum. Kroenke’s proposal also includes other entertainment venues, and it is located adjacent to the recently renovated Inglewood Forum.
It is very clear that the NFL wants to expand its branding beyond football based on Irsay's comments along with some moves the league has made in the past.

In June, the league hired Jordan Levin, a Hollywood executive with no experience in sports, as its chief content officer in charge of producing non-game programming such as game shows and scripted series for NFL Network,, and other media partners in order to keep "younger fans—who are more reliant on phones and tablets than television—in touch with the league during both the season and the off-season."

Sports Business Journal's John Ourand also revealed the NFL's interest in making documentaries that don't directly relate to football back in 2014:
The NFL is reaching into the worlds of Hollywood and popular music for two documentary series that the league hopes will broaden its appeal beyond football fans. 
One documentary carries the working title “The Making of a Super Bowl Halftime Show” and aims to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the entire process around the halftime event — from picking talent, through rehearsals, to the actual performance. 
The NFL’s other project carries the working title “Collaborators” and is patterned after the Sundance Channel’s acclaimed series “Iconoclasts.” The league has been talking with notable Hollywood filmmakers interested in co-producing their projects with NFL Films.
Not to mention, in 2013, the league teamed up with Providence Equity to launch a venture capital firm whose purpose was to invest in entertainment media. So far, investments have included Under Armour, Sirius/XM and an apparel company among others.

You can even see the NFL's efforts to expand into a mixture between entertainment and sports through their new online strategy of creating comical, trending videos which resemble BuzzFeed's style through its 24/7 online sports network NFL Now and their partnership with Yahoo and Men In Blazers to promote an International Series game in London between the Bills and Jags in late October. NFL Now's Rich Eisen Show also focuses on trying to capture celebrities' love for football.

There's no better city to pounce on those ambitions than Los Angeles, the celebrity kingdom of the world. NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger tells The Los Angeles Daily News that this was one of the league's main reasons for placing the channel on the west coast:
“At the time, the plan was to have the signature show here — ‘NFL Total Access’ — and get celebrities to come in. This was an entertainment-meets-football kind of shop. We fell in love with the sound stages and also with the fact that we were very close to the (LAX) airport so it was very efficient for everyone."
Imagine a Disneyland type of complex, as Jim Irsay puts it, where the NFL Media has multiple studios to produce news and analysis shows for NFL Network/ Now along with soundstages and sets to produce scripted series, documentaries, game shows, reality shows, movies and YouTube/Snapchat/Facebook/Twitter shows which get distributed not only on the NFL's media channels but also on other networks. The NFL would be capable of fulfilling their dreams of having a full production house similar to WWE Studios which already produces feature films and other non-game content.

The league could even rent out space to their counterparts at the Player's Association who just launched their own media house with partners such as Viacom, Time and Turner.

Although doubtful, if the league was able to build a self-sustaining production studio with all sorts of different programming, maybe the league will decide to pair these programs up with a package of games that are online-exclusive after their deals with Fox, ESPN, CBS and NBC expire. The league is already experimenting with the online formula with Yahoo domestically and Perform Sports internationally.

One thing which puts a wrench on some of this speculation is the status of Thursday Night Football after this season. According to Sports Business Journal, the winner of next year's rights might also obtain an equity stake in the NFL Network.
“Taking the biggest check has never been the driving force in using this package,” said Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s executive vice president of media. “We want to use it for more than that. We also want to use it for strategic purposes.” 
Privately, network executives say they are expecting the NFL to cut a deal that syncs up with its other TV deals, running though 2021 or 2022. Publicly, NFL executives say they have not settled on how long they want the deal to be. 
Some networks have looked into sweetening their bids by agreeing to take an equity stake in NFL Network, sources said. It’s not known whether such a move would be part of a formal bid.
The NFL is looking for a strategic partner who can take the league's media production to the next level. The problem is most of the potential bidders (ESPN, CBS, NBC, Turner) are based on the east coast and may prefer to move some of NFL Network's shows eastside if they assist with programming efforts.

Its a conundrum to figure but sooner rather than later, we'll know whether the league's ambitions to grow their media empire and its quest to put a team in Los Angeles are interconnected.

Kroenke's Entertainment Venues

Kroenke's goal of placing entertainment venues at this proposed site is also interesting considering some of the other properties he owns. Kroenke owns two low-rated outdoor channels which were recently dropped by Verizon and could possibly get a boost in the ratings with live shows from Los Angeles featuring musicians, celebrities and talk show hosts who exemplify the outdoorsman lifestyle.

Kroenke is also the majority shareholder of Arsenal and could house their American offices in the complex, place a huge merchandise store nearby or host an array of exhibition matches at the stadium during the offseason.

Kroenke's family even owns an array of sports teams in Denver and an RSN.

He could utilize all of those assets (Arsenal, Denver teams, Rams, Chargers, outdoor channels) to start a digital outlet giving sports fans unlimited access to everything that's happening with those teams, their players and build a studio for this outlet in LA at the complex.

If Kroenke's staff doesn't want to be that ambitious, they could at least increase programming based in America on Arsenal's YouTube channel in order to draw younger Premier League fans in the US to the team. The shows would be based in LA and they could produce some bits featuring Los Angeles Rams players in order to build a bridge between the two sports.

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