Football does not need any help in gaining popularity in America. Still, that has not stopped people from trying. The latest experiment is the Alliance of American Football, a developmental spring league that is attempting to use the sport and enhance it with technology for both fans and players.
Founders Charlie Ebersol and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Bill Polian have tweaked America’s favorite sport to address plays that are considered the least interesting and time consuming. They have also discarded plays that have proven to be most dangerous.
Such rules getting the boot are kickoffs, extra points and field goals ending games in overtime. Other modifications include shortening the play clock and settling for ties at the end of a game.
In the past other leagues have attempted to compete with the National Football League (NFL), such as the XFL, which will be attempting a comeback in 2020.
Ebersol told CBS Sports that he did not consider other leagues, including the NFL, as competition because the AAF is hoping to gain interest from not only football fans, but the tech and sports betting worlds.
“Quality football is important, but football is not the engine,” Ebersol said to Fox Business. “It’s not the economic engine of this business year one. The long-term goal is to build a technology company that has a multi-billion-dollar valuation, and so we’re going to invest heavily in putting good football on the field that mimics the NFL in terms of the quality and the type of play, so that our technology can travel to not only the NFL, but other sports and other industries.”
The AAF spent more than a year developing its mobile app, which will allow fans to livestream each game and interact with the broadcast, all while accessing integrated fantasy options and real time stats.
This data could become invaluable to gambling operators such as their exclusive gaming partner MGM and other potential clients. The results and technology could provide other sports leagues another option to interact with their enthusiasts and gather significant information with relation to the industry.
Ebersol’s goal is not to reinvent football. The focus of the game encompasses the players and most importantly the fans and their engagement. Players in the AAF can receive bonuses which are partially dependent on their contributions to the community.
“Our business started as a technology business,” Ebersol told Variety, with his prediction that the technology made from this venture will end up being more profitable than the AAF games themselves.
Like the XFL, USFL and other leagues that have wilted in the past trying to compete with the NFL, the AAF only has a short time to prove it is viable or else people will tune out. But if it can prove to be successful in the tech world, it will have been more successful than any of its predecessors.
“We’ve talked to our investors about this the way you would talk to investors about a tech investment,” Ebersol said to Fox Business News. “This is about raising multiple rounds of investment. We’re not looking for the traditional model, where you’re just looking for people that are excited about football. You’re looking for people that are looking for a multiple on their investments around what the business can do.”
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