Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Oct. 16-20

Gridiron Tech is a weekly feature here at Succeed In Football that takes a look into how technology is influencing the football landscape. In this edition, we investigate how NFL teams are utilizing new fan engagement technologies to help enhance the ‘stadium experience’ and creating software aimed at attracting loyal fans.

Augmented Reality next for NFL: The Pokémon Go brand put augmented reality (AR) on the map last year, which prompted the NFL to ask itself, how do we incorporate the latest phenomenon into a user experience? Mobile developer Yinzcam and digital agency Float Hybrid may have the answer. They’ve created software that enables fans to ‘virtually’ paint their face with their favorite team’s colors or put on an NFL helmet and take a selfie, which can then be shared on social media instantly. The Broncos were the first team to offer this on their team app at the end of last year. This season, the Texans and Eagles have also partnered with the mobile developers, according to a statement. “We are hyper-focused on leveraging innovative technologies to create memorable moments that drive emotional connections with consumers,” Keith Bendes, Float Hybrid’s VP of marketing and strategic partnerships, said in the statement. The new AR software has drawn an official sponsor in Bud Light and has since caught the attention of other NFL teams. It would come as no surprise to see all 32 franchises with this offering by next season.

“Fan Cams” meet football: NFL teams are constantly exploring for additional ways to supplement the stadium experience and make it more interactive for the fans. In today’s “Look at me” culture created by social media, it’s crucial to keep fans entertained and involved. Boston-based company Brizi recognizes that, which is why it created robotic cameras capable of taking a fan’s picture on demand. With Brizi’s technology, a fan using a smartphone can control the robotic camera in the venue and have a picture taken that can be shared in near real-time. Thus far, the company has partnered with the NBA, U.S. Open and Australian Open. However, due to larger stadiums, Brizi is still trying to figure out the logistics of partnering with NFL teams. The solution seems to be using more than one camera. Brizi claims that 74% of fans who attend a sporting event snap a photo, and while several teams currently offer panoramic fan shots, they usually aren’t available until the next day. The ability to take a picture or video on demand and instantly upload it to social media is an enticing stadium enhancement but also a way to increase revenue. The camera also records user data of each fan that requests a photo, which can then be used later on to send them future offerings such as a game ticket or merchandise.

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Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Oct. 9-13

We’re back with another sports technology blog, examining some of the latest developments in the sports technology industry and how it impacts the football landscape. Here is the latest news from this past week.

Cruz’s tech views: While former NFL receiver Victor Cruz ponders his next move post-playing days, it sounds as if the sports tech arena has his attention. He was recently asked to speak at an Advertising Week event in New York on how mobile technology and data are influencing the future of sports. Regarding virtual reality, Cruz is excited about what’s ahead. “I think just me, from a fan perspective, if I’m able to put on a headset, the VR headset, and be at the 50-yard line to watch Eli Manning at the 30 and I’m behind him and I can see the entire (play)—in real-time—that’s a game-changer,” Cruz said. He also said he believes Instagram has increased fan engagement. “To be able to be somewhere live and stream it, and everyone can tune into your live channel and see where you are, and pretty much walk up to you if they’re a block away or two blocks away, I think that’s also a game-changer.” Don’t be surprised if we hear from Cruz again on these topics in the near future.

NFL brings back NextVR: Speaking of virtual reality, the NFL and NextVR are back for a second season to bring fans an immersive post-game experience, featuring highlights from five 2017 NFL regular-season games. The show will be hosted by former NFL running back Reggie Bush and broadcast personality Elika Sadeghi. Each post-game highlight will ​showcase the best VR moments from the game and be available to fans on demand. Content will be available for free to fans worldwide on the NFL channel in the NextVR app following each scheduled VR game. The move signals the NFL’s interest in expanding its VR capabilities, though the league is still in the experimentation phase. Games scheduled for broadcast for NFL VR are as follows:

  • Packers at Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 15
  • Chargers at Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 29
  • Cowboys at Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 12
  • Broncos at Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 26
  • Cowboys at Giants, Sunday, Dec. 10

Amazon releases TNF totals: We previously discussed how Amazon paid $50M for streaming rights to the NFL Thursday Night Football package, five times more than what Twitter paid last year. So, what did it earn them? Amazon reports that Amazon Prime Video, broadcasting the NFL Thursday Night Kickoff pregame show and Thursday Night Football, reached 1.7 million combined viewers in 184 countries and territories and all 50 states, with an average worldwide audience watching for at least thirty seconds hitting 391,000. That’s a mega worldwide demographic, which is probably why Amazon is charging $2.8M for ad packages, according to Reuters. In comparison, the average viewership on Twitter during the 10 live-streamed games was 266,000 last season.

Parting Shot: Social media can be a useful resource for breaking news, as it happens. At the same time, it can also be a very dangerous and costly tool. We often preach to young athletes about the penalties for social media misuse but the warning should be heeded by everyone. The latest example comes from 24-year NFL veteran OL coach Chris Foerster of the Miami Dolphins. A video featuring Foerster went viral Sunday night, which shows him talking into his cell-phone camera before snorting three lines of powdery substance and then stating he was off to a meeting. It didn’t take him long to become an ex-Dolphins coach. Here’s a good rule of thumb to adhere to: assume everything in your phone can/will be hacked. Assume everything on social media can/will be viewed, even if you delete it. So, the next time you hit send, post or record, ask yourself, would I want the world to see this?

Thank you for reading. Be sure to check back at Succeed In Football for weekly sports tech updates, football industry trends and latest news updates. Do you work in football and are looking for an edge? Be sure to visit our partner site: www.InsideTheLeague.com!

2017 Total Former Draftees Still Active, by Team

For the last three years, we’ve totaled up the number of active NFL players drafted by all 32 NFL teams and listed them by total. We’ve seen it as a ‘stealth’ predictor of regular-season success, and a decent indicator of which teams will make the postseason.

Admittedly, this year, the numbers don’t support our three-year theory this year.

As we look at the totals for all 32 teams, the top five teams are quite the surprise. While there have been some surprise teams in the top 10 the last couple years (see 2015’s results here and 2016 here), this year, the top five teams are decidedly not looking like playoff participants barring a serious surge.

Cincinnati (60), San Francisco (54), Baltimore (52), Green Bay (51) and Oakland (51) are the first five teams in draftee totals. Their cumulative record so far is 8-12. Granted, it’s early, and only two of the teams (Cincinnati at 1-3 and San Francisco at 0-4) have losing records. Still, 8-12 is something less than a ringing endorsement of our study.

My theory is that this year is an anomaly because, in most cases, these teams are struggling with weak quarterback play. I’ve previously discussed how play under center can adversely or positively affect a team’s success, and also what percentage of a team’s success is dependent on the starting signal-caller. Four of the five teams’ starting QBs are in the bottom five of ESPN’s season rankings. The other quarterback is Aaron Rodgers of 3-1 Green Bay.

Here are a few thoughts on the rest of the full list.

  • While the buzz around the league is that analytics are the next wave, maybe the next wave should actually be letting your coaches do the bulk of your scouting, as the Bengals have always done. There are other teams that rely on the coaches to help in the decision process (the Broncos come to mind), the Bengals are the clear leaders.
  • Speaking of Denver, the Broncos are No. 6 with 50. Then it’s the Cowboys (49), Eagles (48), Texans (47), and the Browns (yes, the Browns) and Seahawks (tied at 46). Keep in mind that Cleveland’s new draft philosophy is to stockpile picks and hope for the best, so the Browns’ totals are a little skewed.
  • Turns out 45 former draftees active in the league is the median number. Four teams (the Lions, Chiefs, Dolphins, Steelers and Redskins) are tied with 45 former draftees still in the league.
  • Last year’s Super Bowl combatants, the Patriots and Falcons, finished No. 20 and 28, respectively. Again, I think the numbers are tainted by the fact that the Patriots have arguably the best quarterback ever and the Falcons had the 2016 NFL MVP under center.
  • Rounding out the bottom five with the Falcons with 28 draftees were the Colts and Saints, who each tied at 28. The Chargers were 31 with 31 draftees and the Bears were last with 28 draftees. Here’s where the numbers really checked out. The only two of the last five teams with non-winning records are the Falcons (3-1) and the Saints at 2-2.

Here’s the full list:

Team Total draftees
Cincinnati Bengals 60
San Francisco 49ers 54
Baltimore Ravens 52
Green Bay Packers 51
Oakland Raiders 51
Denver Broncos 50
Dallas Cowboys 49
Philadelphia Eagles 48
Houston Texans 47
Cleveland Browns 46
Seattle Seahawks 46
Detroit Lions 45
Kansas City Chiefs 45
Miami Dolphins 45
Pittsburgh Steelers 45
Washington Redskins 45
Carolina Panthers 43
Tennessee Titans 43
Minnesota Vikings 42
New England Patriots 42
Arizona Cardinals 40
Los Angeles Rams 40
Buffalo Bills 39
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 39
New York Jets 37
Jacksonville Jaguars 33
New York Giants 33
Atlanta Falcons 32
Indianapolis Colts 32
New Orleans Saints 32
Los Angeles Chargers 31
Chicago Bears 28

 

Ask The Scouts: How Do Injuries Affect Draft Status?

It has been a while since the last entry in our Ask The Scouts series, so we thought we’d pose an interesting question to our friends in the business and get their responses. This week, we asked about the impact of medical history on draft status:

How many prospects would you say are either (a) lowered down the draft board or (b) marked as almost undraftable, simply due to injuries/health rather than ability? 

Here are a few responses.

  • “Probably about 100.”
  • “I would say guys that are affected by injuries yearly would be in the 40-50 range, as far as losing value due to them. Think we might end up with around 15 on he average being completely off the board, then 30-35 might lose some value.”
  • “I would be afraid to take a wild guess. That is usually done right before the draft by the medical staffs and players vary from team to team. Player A may be off the board for one team but on the board for another according to what their doctors say.”
  • “My guess would be 20-25%, maybe 33%,of prospects have some type of physical issue that needs to be considered in determining ultimate value. Any prospect that has had a major surgery is tagged. Any prospect that has games missed in multiple seasons is tagged even though they may be minor surgeries. Those prospects who get hurt this year who will be unable to be full speed for mini-camps are also tagged.”

This turned out to be a productive question that garnered many responses. We’ve got several more responses in our Friday Wrap, which goes out to about 4,000 people in the football world — agents, scouts (and ex-scouts), financial advisors, active NFL players, prospects and their parents, and many others associated with the game.

It’s totally free, and it comes out (surprise, surprise) every Friday afternoon. Interested in receiving it? Sign up here. And welcome aboard!

Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Sept. 25-29

With fewer viewers watching NFL games on TV, the race for online video content amongst social media heavyweights is on. The NFL remains the most valuable programming in the United States, and while Facebook recently unveiled Facebook Watch, a new platform for shows, Amazon Prime has been at the forefront with its Over-The-Top content (OTT). Here’s a look at some of the latest developments from this week:

TNF comes to Amazon: Earlier this year, Amazon won the rights to stream the NFL Thursday Night Football package to the tune of $50M, which was significantly more than the $10M Twitter paid the previous year. They outbid companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook. TNF kicks off on Amazon Prime tonight, with the Bears visiting the Packers. It’s the first of 11 streamed games that will be made available to their millions of subscribers across the globe, which includes over 200 countries. Some of the branded programming content includes the Amazon TNF Kickoff Show featuring Tiki Barber and celebrity chef Curtis Stone and Trivia with Alexa, in tandem with Amazon’s custom viewing boxes. The brown boxes, colored like a football, have a “Thursday Night Football” logo and a “Stream Live with Prime Membership” bug. With the 2018 TNF streaming package soon up for bid, you can be sure their competitors will be watching closely to determine how much this NFL offering is actually worth. If last year’s negotiation is any indication, the bid for next year’s rights could exceed $100M. 

NFL, Facebook partner: The NFL and Facebook announced a multi-year deal Tuesday to deliver official NFL video and other types of content to fans around the world. The NFL will publish NFL Game Recaps and official highl​ights from all 256 regular-season games (as well as the playoffs and Super Bowl) that will be available globally on Facebook. In addition, NFL Media, the League’s owned and operated media division, will distribute uniquely packaged content from its award-winning production arm, NFL Films, on Facebook’s Watch platform. NFL Turning Point, Sound FX and NFL Game Recaps will be posted each week during the NFL season and will be available to people in the U.S. on Watch. “We’re excited for Watch to become a destination for NFL fans to catch up on the latest on-field action and connect with one another,” said Dan Reed, Facebook’s Head of Global Sports Partnerships, in a released statement. “These full-game recaps and shows will deliver comprehensive coverage while enabling the active NFL fan communities on Facebook to watch and debate the top storylines from each week.”

Head help ahead: In other NFL-related tech news, the league announced that it has awarded a total of $426,000 in grants to three firms as part of its HeadHealthTECH Challenge, which is designed to advance improvements in those areas. Baytech Products of Asheville, N.C., was awarded a $178,000 grant to build and test its prototype HitGard, a multi-component helmet system. Also receiving $148,000 will be Windpact of Leesburg, Va., to support prototyping and testing of its Crash Cloud, an impact liner system using restricted air flow and foam in helmets. Getting $100,000 will be 2ND Skull of Pittsburgh, Pa., to further evaluate the effectiveness of its skull cap in reducing impact forces and developing a second-generation version. Launched in November 2016, the TECH Challenge series is operated and managed on behalf of Football Research Inc., by Duke University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Scouts on Scouting: Kebric, Kingdon Answer Our Questions (Pt. 3)

Today, we offer the final segment of our three-part series with former Raiders scouts Jon Kingdon and Bruce Kebric,  two of the co-authors of Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield.

Do you think Al Davis would follow the trend of hiring young people with minimal football background or would he seek more experienced scouts for his staff?

Kingdon: Outside of Ron Wolf, Bruce Kebric and myself, the scouting department was primarily comprised of former players so I imagine he would have continued that process.

Kebric: No. He wanted experience and expertise.

What’s the biggest mistake a team can make in scouting and evaluation?

Kingdon: It’s important that a scout have a conviction in his opinions. I worked with a scout that would change his grade from a second round to a seventh round to a third round depending on what was the latest report that he heard. It’s a lot easier to defend your own opinion than someone else’s. A scout needs to be strong enough to admit when he is wrong and strong enough to admit when he is right. You can’t be afraid to make mistakes. Scouting is the process of humans evaluating humans so by definition, you are going to be wrong sometimes. Just learn from your mistakes. If you make a mistake, make it a mistake of commission, not omission.

Kebric: Hiring friends and “yes” people. You need people who do the work, stand up for their convictions, but are willing to admit a mistake. The best advice that I ever received came from a veteran coach who  early on in my career said, “Believe your eyes, not your ears.”

The spread offense has created challenges for scouts, especially when it comes to evaluating the OL and QBs. How would Al have dealt with this challenge?

Kingdon: Scouting is scouting. Probably the same issues came up when teams were running the wishbone, wing T and run and shoot offenses.

Kebric: I think that the lack of patience more than the collegiate offenses is the primary problem. Players at these two positions are immediately put on the field today instead of being given two or three years to learn the NFL game.  I watch Aaron Rodgers and wonder what his career would have been like if he had been forced to play immediately.  Everyone wants instant success.  Years ago, teams had three- and five-year plans; now it is one and two.  My first two years with the Oilers, our record was 2-26.  The next two it was 17-11 and then it was on to “Luv Ya Blue.”  Do you think we would have been around for Year 3 today?

In Al’s final days with the Raiders, the team didn’t enjoy a lot of success. The same could be said for a lot of the game’s legends (Beathard, Landry, others). Is there a shelf life for success in the NFL? 

Kingdon: There’s no way to come up with a palatable answer to this question.

Kebric: Merely a lack of patience on Al’s part. His mounting health problems created a desire for instant success and as the book mentions, he never recovered from the loss in the 2003 Super Bowl. Al won three championships with two coaches over a 19-year period. After that, he was making near bi-annual changes with both his head coaches and the offensive scheme (Vertical vs. West Coast).

Scouts on Scouting: Ex-Raiders evaluators Kebric, Kingdon Answer Our Questions

On Tuesday, two of the co-authors of the new book, Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield, Jon Kingdon and Bruce Kebric, answered our questions about the book and about scouting in general. We had a few more questions, and their answers are below.

Did Al evaluate scouts and front office personnel? If so, how?

Kingdon: In his own way, Al would evaluate the scouts.  He would rely more on the opinion of the better scouts in the department. He was very loyal to his employees and did not fire people easily. If someone proved to be disloyal to him or the organization, that was certainly grounds for termination. The coaches were a different story.

Kebric: He did know who could perform and who could not but remained loyal to certain individuals. On a number of occasions, he would tell us just to “work around so and so.”  Of course, this created a burden on the rest of us.

Al was an innovator. How would he look at the rise of analytics in the game today?

Kingdon: I once heard a historian talk about the greatness of our founding fathers like Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison and Adams.  They wrote this amazing document using quill pens in bad light. It would be amazing to think what they could do with the facilities of today. I think the same think about Sid Gillman, Al Davis and the other great football minds that would sit in a room, cutting and splicing film as they put together their offenses.  I’m sure that Al would have analyzed the analytics from all angles and perspectives and found a way to maximize its use in ways that may not have been considered.

Kebric: Perhaps, because of his health decline, Al did not adapt to modern devices (e.g., computers, cell phones, etc.).  He remained reliant upon daily faxes and used an overhead projector to detail particulars of the Lane Kiffin firing. I once made mention to him about all the data that could be located on a computer and he replied that, “Jon Kingdon provides me with that information.” The book contains a comment from Al to the effect that history repeats itself and that what worked in the past once again will work in the future.  He never really left the 1960s (Sid Gilllman’s vertical passing offense, etc.) and so, analytics would have been a tough sell.

Thursday, we ask Jon and Bruce the biggest mistake a team can make during the scouting process; how they think Davis would have dealt with evaluating players in college offenses that don’t translate to the NFL; and why some scouts and executives lose their effectiveness over time. Don’t forget to check in tomorrow, and make sure to check out their new book.

 

Two Ex-Raider Scouts, Now Authors, Reflect on Al Davis and the Game

If you read our weekly Friday Wrap (and if you don’t, you can register for it here), you know that there’s a new book out called Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield. It’s written by Bay Area sportswriter Steve Corkran along with two men who knew Davis well: former Raiders scouts Jon Kingdon and Bruce Kebric. Also, Gary Peterson served as editor.

I’ve known Jon since the late ’00s in my days running all-star games, but only recently met Bruce (and his friendly and engaging wife, Liz). They’re both promoting the book around the Bay Area and nationally, so I took the opportunity to ask both of them a few questions about past Raiders drafts, as well as the scouting business. They were kind enough to spend a little time answering those questions, and we’ll have them for our readers this week. Here’s the first excerpt.

Looking back to your four decades with the Raiders, which draftee’s success (or failure) surprised you the most?

Kingdon: The late-round picks that make it are always the most satisfying. Ron Wolf getting the team to draft (DT) Reggie Kinlaw, who had a very good career and (who was) dominating in the Super Bowl win versus Washington. La’Roi Glover, another defensive tackle, who we battled to draft and went on to a great career. Unfortunately, it was done with the New Orleans Saints.  Another was Ronald Curry who was a quarterback out of North Carolina that we tried as a safety and then went on to become a very fine wide receiver.

Kebric: As stated in the book, the players that we did not draft (Brett Favre, Aeneas Williams, Steven Jackson, etc.) stand out more than the ones we did draft. During my early years with the Raiders, I lived in Houston and scouted the Southwest. Two players that I recommended who performed beyond my expectations were SS Vann McElroy (Baylor) and DE Greg Townsend (TCU). The biggest disappointment had to be (former No. 1 overall) JaMarcus Russell (LSU), who I had rated as my third best player for the 2007 draft (behind Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson).  As the book relates, we told Al that JaMarcus needed a structured environment but such was not provided in Oakland.  We basically gave a young man $30 million and let him roam the East Bay.

Is life better overall for scouts now than it was 10 years ago? 20 years ago?

Kingdon: There has been a great evolution in scouting. When I was first hired, scouts would be lugging projectors around to the schools to watch their film. Sometime you would have to watch the film against the wall in the bathroom of a locker room. Going from film to tape and finally to digitizing also makes things a lot easier. Now the teams have film on every school from the prior season and receive it as the season progresses. Scouts are now able to watch a team’s film prior to showing up at the school, enabling the scout to determine where the players he is scouting line up prior to arriving at the school, saving time and allowing the scout to go right into the evaluation process.

Kebric: Worse. The (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones mantra of “hiring 25-year-olds and paying them $25,000 a year” seems to pervade the league.  When I entered the NFL in 1968, the scouts were held in much higher esteem since the majority had been NFL players, NFL executives or NFL/college coaches. Of course, until the late 1970s, the draft was held in early February, which did not permit the coaches to be as involved as today.

Wednesday, we ask Jon and Bruce how Al Davis would look at the analytics wave in football, and how Davis evaluated his scouts and draft team. Don’t forget to check out the book on Amazon.

Gridiron Tech with Rick Serritella: Sept 11-15

In order to cater to the ‘superfan’ among the NFL’s most passionate supporters, Super Bowl champion and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has announced the launch of his new app, TraceMe.

The new project provides an immersive, interactive and content-filled experience between fan and celebrity, according to the company. Users will have access to a weekly Wilson-led podcast as well as insight and tips on how to train like the QB.

“Now that it’s football season, my No. 1 priority is leading the Seahawks to another Super Bowl victory,” Wilson said in a statement. “TraceMe is going to help me on that journey by providing me with a direct line to my most passionate supporters.”

The app recently announced a $9 million Series A funding round led by Madrona Venture Group. Among a group of angel investors is Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Here’s a look at other new developments on the grid horizon, courtesy of Rick Serritella.

Lynch Out Loud: The comeback of Raiders OH Marshawn Lynch is paying dividends for the budding reality show star. That is not a misprint folks. The character once known for not speaking to the media at the Super Bowl will now be the focal point of a reality show produced by Bleacher Report. The show, “No Script,” will begin streaming this month on Facebook Watch as the social media titan attempts to compete with Amazon and Netflix with original sports video content. While their new video offerings are barely even a month old, Facebook has opened its bank account to ensure this project gets off the ground quickly. Lynch’s deal is reportedly in the millions, according to Reuters, while the Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook intends to invest up to a billion dollars on original shows.

More reality programming: As the market for original sports content heats up, Amazon announced a new show featuring the University of Michigan football team and head coach Jim Harbaugh. The show will spotlight players and coaches in day-to-day life on campus and provide an inside look at practice and game day. “We are proud to partner with Amazon Prime Video in documenting our University of Michigan student-athletes’ daily experiences and lifelong lessons learned both on the football field and in the classroom,” Harbaugh said in a statement. It will be produced by BTN Orginals and the Montag Group, and will be released in January. Meanwhile, the NFL Network has two other docu-series ready for launch. “Football Town: Valdosta, GA,” is produced by Panthers QB Cam Newton and chronicles the 2016 Valdosta High School football team. The new series airs Tuesday nights and will be followed by “Elite 11,” which tells the story of the nation’s best young athletes as they look to follow in the footsteps of others such as No. 1 overall draft picks Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston and Jared Goff.

Six more seconds: Last week, we examined the introduction of six-second ads on NFL broadcasts. It didn’t take long for other to follow. According to Adweek, look for six-second ads to begin appearing on YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, among other platforms. It’s the latest attempt to keep advertising relevant as modern attention spans decrease. In a new ad campaign aimed at potential advertisers, YouTube claims  that millennials and members of Generation Z aren’t the only demographics that watch online video. The plan is to eventually phase out longer ads traditionally used at the outset of such content.

 

 

 

Weekly Gridiron Tech Report with Ric Serritella

If it seems as if a day doesn’t go by without news of a new football livestream offering, you’re right. With media entities such as Twitter and Facebook now over a decade old, the millennial generation has become accustomed to watching football online, which means increased revenue opportunities for the NFL and more smiles on owner’s faces.

With that in mind, here are some items of interest from NFL Draft Bible’s Ric Serritella, especially to those people seeking to find a niche in the game.

Six-second ads: During the offseason, the NFL announced its intention to eliminate the ‘double-up’ commercial breaks. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s when broadcast networks decide to go to commercial break following a touchdown, then again following the kickoff. These ‘double ups’ have helped the league generate about $3.5 billion for the five networks carrying their broadcasts (CBS, Fox, ESPN, NBC and NFL Network). On the other hand, they’ve irritated fans and made for longer games at a time when attention spans are getting shorter.

With the growing influence of social media, the average user’s attention span has drastically decreased. According to a recent Microsoft study, the average attention span is now eight seconds, down from 12 in 2000, which would make it shorter than a goldfish.

So what’s the answer? Six-second ads. Fox is the first to announce this offering. Ads will debut on America’s Game of the Week and be deployed in a variety of forms, including a shorter commercial load or in-game execution, designed to “most seamlessly integrate with each type of sport.”

C-USA goes with Flo: Whether you’re away from home, out of market or on the go, the recent increase of online livestream channels has made it easier to keep up with every college football team. The latest to enter the arena is FloSports, which has signed an agreement to broadcast Conference USA games.

The deal includes exclusive live and on-demand coverage of three regular-season games featuring Charlotte, Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Louisiana Tech and Rice. Though lacking the national exposure of the Power Five conferences, most of which own their own network, Conference USA is leading the charge as an early adaptor to Over-The-Top (OTT) content. They also struck a deal with Stadium, in addition to beIN SPORTS, which makes its 2017 Conference USA debut Saturday with FIU’s home opener against Alcorn State, the first of 10 Saturday evening games on the network.

Though NFL broadcast networks generated a bundle in ad sales, the biggest money-maker for NFL owners comes from TV deals. Last year, the league earned $7.8 billion in TV broadcast rights. That means each NFL team earned $244 million from broadcast deals before the season began.

NFL expands social networking: As the league continues to turn toward livestream online network deals, a recent shareholder report by Twitter signals that an increasing NFL presence on social media is arriving faster than we ever imagined. According to the report, last year’s Thursday Night Football (TNF) livestream package drew an average of 3.5 million unique viewers per game, with 55 percent under the age of 25, an indication of the strong demographic metrics most advertisers covet.

The success was so great that Twitter lost out on the TNF package to Amazon this year, which paid $50 million for the rights to the package, five times more than what Twitter paid the year before. However, Twitter managed to keep skin in the game by agreeing to a multi-year deal with the league to provide uniquely packaged official NFL video.