The Florida Panthers are
leveraging possible lockouts in
the NFL and NBA in ad
While most of the sports-watching public is awaiting the potential doomsday of both an NFL and NBA lockout in the fall, other sports leagues are looking to take advantage.
The Florida Panthers of the NHL, for example, have started using this advertising campaign on their website, which promotes the Panthers as a viable and desirable option for sports fans in normally crowded Florida market come November.
The slogan reads alongside two juxtaposed pictures of Panthers players and a football and basketball in a beach chair in an ocean setting:
In October 2011: We’re Guaranteed to Play. They’re not!
The Panthers’ campaign works under the understanding that many fans may not be willing to commit to buying tickets to Dolphins or Heat games because of the potential lockouts. In the ad, the organization also promotes its biggest matchups of the season with traditional hockey teams that Florida-transplants from the North may find enticing: Montreal, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, Pittsburgh and Washington.
Since the NBA has some time before the June 30th expiration of its current collective bargaining agreement, the focus has been on the NFL’s negotiating crisis and how fans will respond to not having football every Sunday. The United Football League (UFL) is seeking to bank on the potential NFL lockout.
Even though ESPN authorities have said that they have “no current plans” to adopt UFL broadcasts if the NFL season is cut short or cancelled, the league is pushing itself as an option for professional football this fall.
“Every network is looking at content they have to fill in, and people are seeing us as a potential viable option,” UFL commissioner, Michael Huyghue told TSN.
Huyghue said the league lost $30 million in its inaugural season in 2009 and $50 million last season. But league officials are optimistic about where the league could escalate given the potential for a television contract granted there’s an NFL lockout.
“To be candid, we'd be crazy to quit now if there's going to be a lockout,” UFL Founder and Locos Owner Bill Hambrecht told KLAS-TV. “We'd be the only game in town. Almost under any circumstances, we have to see through what's going to happen with the lockout.”
Huyghue insists that the UFL’s plans are not contingent on an NFL lockout. “It's not a business strategy for us,” he said. “It's potentially an opportunity.”
The Florida Panthers and the UFL are two examples among many sports leagues and individual teams that could benefit from the elimination of competing with the NFL for viewership, attendance and attention.
While the Panthers are promoting an NFL lockout in their advertising, Huyghue and the UFL have approached the issue more cautiously.
“There's been so much anticipation for what a lockout might mean,” Huyghue told ESPN. “We're still around. Just breathing has a lot to do with the chance to succeed.”
Whether the UFL or NHL would actually benefit from an NFL lockout is yet to be seen.
Sloane Martin is the creator of the women's sports blog Same Size Balls. She is a sports broadcaster and freelance writer. She can be followed on Twitter.