December will bring a new season of the National Lacrosse League, the largest men’s professional indoor lacrosse league in North America, with the league announcing the Twitter Game of the Week schedule for the second year in a row, featuring a free live broadcast of a key matchup as well as playoff and Champion’s Cup games and league-wide highlights, on its platform throughout the season. Games will also be simulcast live on NLLTV.com starting Dec. 8 with Toronto/Buffalo. Meanwhile, the org comes off an off-season that saw the addition of a new franchises in San Diego and Philadelphia (for 2019) and a game between the Saskatchewan Rush and Calgary Roughnecks on Saturday that drew a record preseason crowd of 22,462 fans.
Cynopsis spoke with NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz on the league’s growth and what lies ahead.
Sakiewicz on media partnerships: This is the second year of the Twitter Game of the Week Partnership. This features one game a week free to all Twitter users whether you are logged in or not. Fans can watch the entire season live through our own OTT platform, NLL TV. Live games are part of paid packages (full season and single game), but there is also free content featured there. The Colorado franchise does have an RSN deal with Altitude which features all the Mammoth games. The NLL is positioning itself as a digital first, video first league. We feel that we have a moment in time, and this moment has been a convergence of digital media, the popularity of the sport (fastest growing sport in the US) and the cost efficiencies to reach our audience to grow the league exponentially.
On NLL Productions: NLL Productions was a major success this year with the production of over 500 hours of live and on demand content. NLL Productions is adding new on camera talent this year with Ashley Docking, and now has studios on both the East and West coast. Biggest successes were averaging just over 344,000 viewers on Twitter per game, giving fans access to the entire schedule of games (never been done before in league history), surpassing our subscriber and revenue goal by double and Tyson Geick of NLL Productions has been nominated for a Notable award as rising star in Canada.
On expansion: Expansion is a key pillar of our 5-year strategy. San Diego is the combination of a five-star blue chip owner, Joe Tsai, who has a passion for lacrosse and the right arena deal in a passionate lacrosse community. It has expanded the NLL to its most Western point in the US. We are focused on thoughtful expansion—not just awarding teams to the highest bidder. It must be the right owners, with the right arena/lease deal with the right plan for operation of the team.
Key targets are NHL/NBA owners and other building operators since it is really a plug and play model—they have the infrastructure, they know how to operate a franchise successfully, they have arena/lease deals, and they want more content programming for the arena.
On schedules: San Diego and Philadelphia won’t begin play until the 18-19 season, so the conferences remain unaffected for the 17-18 season however, the playoff format has been changed to single elimination games in the division finals. For 18-19, we are exploring a few options: the realignment of conference, a weighted schedule and the addition of more games in the schedule.