NFL Should Look Within To Expand Fan Base

Nike signing Jets QB Mark Sanchez to a 4-year deal is only be a footnote this week, but years down the road it may become a seminal moment in NFL marketing, the first deal for someone that could become its most marketable player. The teams threw the league a bone with this one, putting a star QB of Hispanic decent with a polished personality, good looks, and on field potential into the biggest market in the country, on a team about to move into a world class stadium. All the stars are aligned.

It was obvious to everyone in sports that Sanchez holds tremendous marketing potential from the day he left USC because of his heritage and pedigree, and that potential only increased when you add NY to the mix. However, this opportunity transcends any one athlete. It’s represents a chance for the NFL to penetrate an entirely new demographic. One the league has struggled to gain traction with, and thus far the one battle it’s lost with soccer.

The Hispanic population is the fastest growing of any ethnic group in the US, and they will represent a significant portion of the growth in spending power over the next few decades. Saying the NFL needs more Hispanic fans to remain the number one sport for the next half century may not be an overstatement.

Though the NFL already commits community and youth initiatives to this effort, developing a more thorough strategy to market to Hispanics in the US would benefit the league more than its efforts to put a Super Bowl in London. Why bring the fight overseas to foreign soil, in a place where you can’t deliver consistent content when you still have not conquered the home land. In addition, the US Hispanics, the entire country of Mexico is a potential extended market, one that may be as interested as the country north of the border the NFL is so desperately trying to win over.

Of course, the chips need to fall into place on the field for Sanchez to become the face of the league, but if they do he will be the successor to Favre, Brady, and Manning as the NFL poster child. Instead of playing games in London, perhaps the NFL will decide to play games in LA again and just maybe a franchise will wind up there again. Sanchez could help make all this happen.

If the player succeeds, its up to his advisors and the league to shift its focus away from Europe and back to its growing its core fan base in the US.

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