First and 10 years ahead: ESPN participates in panel on NFL’s future

(From l-r) Mike Tirico, NFL executive Troy Vincent,'s Rich Cimini and ESPN EVP John Wildhack.(Photo Credit: Maria Salatino)

Several ESPN employees participated in a symposium at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on Oct. 18 that examined the future of the National Football League.

Monday Night Football’s Mike Tirico, a Newhouse alum, hosted the event, which included fellow Syracuse graduates Patricia Betron, senior vice president of multimedia sales, writer Rich Cimini, and John Wildhack, executive vice president of program acquisitions and strategy.

There were other top industry veterans attending as well, including Melissa A. Richards-Person, senior director of advertising and promotions with Papa John’s International, Mark Rooks, senior marketing director with Pepsi Sports; and Troy Vincent, a 15-year NFL veteran who now serves as the NFL’s vice president of player engagement.

The event was divided into two panels: “Moving the Chains: Keeping the NFL Business Model Strong” and “Yards after Contact: Keeping the Fans of the NFL Connected.”

The first meeting covered the economics of the NFL and the relationship between the league and its advertising and marketing partners, while the latter session explored the issues facing the NFL, the players and the media in keeping fans engaged with the product.

A full auditorium attended the day-long, on-campus event, which was also streamed online and promoted via Twitter using the #NFLnext10 hash tag.

“The popularity of the National Football League is at an all-time high and it’s showing no signs of letting up,” said Wildhack.

“I was proud to participate in the Newhouse symposium. It was a great experience because the event drew upon some of the industry’s top minds to discuss how the NFL has become the most powerful form of entertainment in this country and how it can sustain that position into the next decade.”

Panelists discussed how to reach new demographics, particularly women and Hispanics; fantasy football and the proliferation of NFL content through different media; and the rise of social media as areas of opportunity to ensure the continued growth of the sport.

While only time will tell what the NFL looks like in 10 years, it’s clear that these kinds of forward-thinking events at the Newhouse School and other universities only will help the upward trajectory of sports while providing a great learning opportunity for the next generation of industry leaders.

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