Will Cain is a rare conservative voice at ESPN.
Others like Curt Schilling, Mike Ditka, and Britt McHenry have been for fired for their political leanings.
While others at ESPN downplay the troubles of the NFL, Cain issued a stark warning to a league that’s starting to crack.
Cain pointed out that the NFL should be concerned about Vince McMahon bringing back the XFL.
During Friday’s “First Take” on ESPN, Will Cain brushed off the notion that the XFL will fail like it did the first attempt, arguing that the NFL should be worried this time around because the league is losing viewers while college football ratings continue to increase.
“The NFL should be paying attention,” Cain told moderator Molly Qerim.
He continued, “I know what sport dominates in America, and it’s the sport of football. Any threat to the NFL will come from within that house. If you want to see where viewers are going, where eyeballs are going: championship game down eight percent in the NFL, divisional round games down as low as 2009 in some windows, down as low as it has been in 15 years. And what’s happening at the same time? College football going up. Americans love football. That will be the threat to the NFL.”
Cain went on to explain that it would be wrong to bet against XFL CEO Vince McMahon, who Cain said has learned from his previous XFL venture that lasted only one season due to ratings.
The NFL has lost viewership, ad revenue, and general appeal. The brand is as fragile as it’s ever been in the past 30 years.
Any type of disruption could significantly hurt the league’s business model, especially when commissioner Roger Goodell has aspirations of taking the league international.
There are certainly areas where the XFL can exploit NFL weaknesses.
From Conservative Review:
Eliminate instant replay.
Doing so will create more drama and controversy. Yes, that may mean imperfect outcomes, but the public has become so sick of the NFL’s over-the-top attempts to get it right that the market is ripe for some good old-fashioned hate over the refs getting it wrong. And if anyone knows how controversial storylines can pay off at the box office, it’s Vince McMahon.
Place teams in major markets that don’t have NFL franchises but love football, like Birmingham, Alabama.
Why did I pick Birmingham? Well, aside from the fact it’s a bigger television market than Jacksonville, New Orleans, and Buffalo, where the NFL currently has teams, it’s also the number-one market for college football ratings each year. Also high on that list are Oklahoma City and Columbus, Ohio, which don’t have NFL franchises, either.
Incorporate daily fantasy football into your game-day experience.
There are two reasons the NFL is idiot-proof, regardless of how much they turn it into a humanities class at Berkeley. One is gambling, which the XFL will get access to if the product is good enough. The second is fantasy football. In 2013, Forbes estimated that fantasy football was a whopping 70-billion dollar industry — and that was before daily fantasy football really began to take off.
If I were McMahon, I would create my own exclusive daily fantasy mechanism for XFL game days.
Put the fans on the field with modern innovation.
Why not helmet cams on a player in each position group, with a live feed hosted by an online media partner for fans who want to be right in the middle of the action? Let fans hear what’s being said during timeouts and huddles in real time. Let fans hear the smack talk between the players, too, which will only add to the development of individual personas that create drama and controversy.
Also, McMahon has promised to make the game apolitical, which is clearly what the fans want, as evidenced by the extreme backlash to the anti-American anthem protests.
It’s highly unlikely the NFL would ever be overtaken, but losses in revenue and fan interest could irrevocably damage the game and its potential for long-term growth.