One of the true oddities about the NFL is the Green Bay Packers, the team that hails from a small town in east central Wisconsin. With a population just over 100,000, it is – by far – an anomaly when you consider that pro teams in all sports are all in much bigger markets. Notably, the Packers are celebrating their 100th anniversary in the NFL, and is the only non-profit, community-owned team in major league sports in the U.S.
A visit to Lambeau Field in on my bucket list – a trip back in time to smash mouth, cold weather football. And as NFL fans know only too well, the team has been immensely successful over the last century: 4 Super Bowl wins, including the first two in the biggest championship series that started in 1967.
And the glory on the field continues to this day. So far, this season, the Pack is right where they usually are – leading the NFC North division with 6-1 record. The team's QB – Aaron Rodgers – is one of the best in the game, a player who very much represents the Packers' long tradition of gutsy, gritty leaders.
I got my education about Packers football when we hired Lori Lewis (pictured above) several years ago. I'm not going to suggest that Lori's Monday morning moods were dependent on how the Pack performed the day before. Or maybe I will.
When she first started at Jacobs Media, Lori and I made a trip to Chicago and then rented a car to drive to the Illinois Broadcasters Association conference in Bloomington/Normal. We jumped in the car, and there was the glorious Chicago skyline through the front windshield.
As I started too “ooh and aah” about the magnificence of this beautiful midwest city, Lori replied that she hates Chicago – everything about it. Now, as a Detroiter, we revere the Windy City, often visiting on getaway weekends. So, I wanted to know the source of her disdain over one my all-time favorite back cities.
After a little digging, it came out:
“The Bears play here. And I hate the Bears.”
Well, there you go.
Lori represents that Green Bay mindset. And the more you learn about the Packers organization and the unique relationship they have with their fans, the more you understand the brand depth, the raw passion, and the emotional roots this franchise has earned, from Vince Lombardi to Bart Starr to Brett Favre.
It's not just about the team or the game on the field. The Packers organization is a smart and savvy organization. This includes taking advantage of digital media, and the ways in which sports fans indulge their habit.
When we look at the Sports Radio P1s in our Techsurveys, we almost always see an audience ahead of the curve – whether its listening to podcasts, owning and using smart speakers, and watching streaming video and listening to streaming audio. In short, making use of the media tools that helps brings teams and the sports they play to life is a common activity among hardcore fans, satisfying their insatiable love for the game.
In Techsurvey 19, we learned that “smart TV” ownership is growing. In fact, a majority of our 50,000+ respondents (54%) own one. Sports fans? They're #1 across the 14 formats included in our survey.
Something tells me the Packers do their homework. They know their fan base very well. And to that end, they announced last week the launch of a free, connected TV app, available to their fanatical fan base via Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku devices.
The team realizes that while the main action is on the field – and Lambeau is indeed a special place – Packers fans need to take it the total experience on the devices and platforms of their choice: radio, TV, the website, a mobile app, podcasts, and now this new content stream available on connected TVs.
The Pack's new app provides a ton of on-demand content – a rich menu of news, highlights, videos, features, and press conferences, along with a host of Packers TV shows.
For Green Bay denizens – and the thousands of Packer fans around the country – this new app provides a perfect, big screen living room/den/man cave experience. And it communicates that the team “gets” the inbred fandom that is vintage Green Bay.
Our mobile apps company, jacapps, has experimented with connected TV apps. We even developed one for Emmis' “Where Hip-Hop Lives” app a few years ago. Like the Packers app, it featured video, interviews, music, and other lifestyle content available to fans of the genre in a comfortable, group experience. The channel had robust content, and the app was built to show that off in a highly visual way not usually associated with radio.
All of a sudden, a radio station becomes a multi-media brand, especially if it has visual assets like Power 106 and Hot 97 had.
When we think of traditional brands – whether they are radio stations that have been around for decades, TV and movie series (Marvel, “Star Wars,” “Downton Abbey”), and yes, sports teams – providing fans and followers with a unique way to experience them goes to the core of stoking fan interests and enthusiasm.
It's what keeps them coming back for more content, event attendance, and merch purchases. And like so many web-based products, a free mobile app – especially in a big screen format – is a gateway drug for generating even more passion, enthusiasm, and revenue.
So, kudos to the Packers for stepping out on new platforms to engage its fans.
And now we'll all know what Lori Lewis is watching – Sunday afternoons, Monday nights, Tuesday mornings, and Wednesday afternoons.
And maybe right now.