Sports Business

Why Cirque du Soleil, NFL experience could come to Chicago

Why Cirque du Soleil, NFL experience could come to Chicago

With the success of the NFL Draft going mobile, the league may eventually decide to take another NFL experience on the road.

The NFL has partnered up with Cirque du Soleil to launch an interactive exhibit in New York City this fall.

The attraction, titled NFL Experience Times Square, will include interactive screens, an auditorium for 4D shows, coaches clinics, autograph sessions and much more.

[BEARS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

CSN Sports Business Insider Rick Horrow explains why taking the experience on the move could be a good thing for the franchise value of the Bears.

"This is an example of a $25 billion NFL business joint-venturing with another pioneer in the entertainment industry Cirque du Soleil to make it better," Horrow explained. "Here's the case, because the NFL Draft has become mobile with Chicago leading the way, then Philadelphia, the Pro Bowl, the Super Bowl, you can't believe it's not an opportunity for potentially doing this NFL experience along the streets of Madison Avenue, along State Street, as well as Michigan Avenue.

"How about downtown Chicago on the way to other places."

Watch the video above to see what else Horrow had to say about the NFL Experience possibly coming to Chicago.

The Daily Line: Week 1 football picks

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USA TODAY

The Daily Line: Week 1 football picks

The Supreme Court opened the door for sports betting legalization with its May ruling that struck down a 1992 law that banned commercial sports betting in most states. Sports betting is not yet legal in Illinois, but with football season underway, former Northwestern offensive lineman Eric Olson will take a weekly look at the odds surrounding the action on the field.

It is here. Football season is upon us. The best time of year has begun. By way of introduction, I am Eric Olson. I played football for Northwestern from 2012- 2016, started over 30 games at Right Tackle, got a Master’s in Predictive Analytics and love to look at football through the eyes of a sports bettor. I will be writing up my weekly NFL, and a few college picks here at NBC Sports Chicago. With the legalization of sports betting in a handful of states already, and possibly growing to others soon, there will be a lot of new interest and increased awareness on the sports betting factors around the games this year.    The best pieces of advice I can give you are: #1 Don’t bet what you can’t afford #2 If it feels too good to be true, it probably is. And #3 If it feels ugly when you place it, good. Other than that, let’s have some fun and hopefully have some success along the way.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs New York Giants, 9/9 12:00pm CT

The Line: Jaguars -3

Betting Percentage Split: 50/50

The play: Giants +3

The Jacksonville Jaguars wildly overachieved in 2017. The New York Giants wildly under achieved in 2017. Week 1 is a phenomenal time to exploit biases like this from the previous season. In fact, teams that won under six games the year before are an incredible 59% against the spread in week 1 of the following year over the last 8 years. The Giants are not a 3-13 team based on the talent on their roster. Odell is happy, McAdoo and his stupid haircut are out, Saquon is in, the OL is revamped and seemingly there is actually some sort of balance in the locker room. The Jaguars may have the best defense in league for a second straight year, but that doesn’t mean they will recapture the spark they had in 2017. Bortles is still a very, very average NFL quarterback and I am not ready to pencil this team as the new AFC powerhouse for years to come like some people seem so set to do. Take advantage of this situational play and take the team that under achieved the previous year at home getting points with a veteran QB.

San Francisco 49ers vs Minnesota Vikings, 9/9 12:00pm CT

The Line: Vikings  -6.5

Betting Percentage Split: 66% of tickets on the Vikings

The play: Vikings -6.5

Everybody and their mother have the 49ers as their ‘surprise’ team this year. People love to talk about how Jimmy G went 5-0 in his first 5 starts, but look past the fact that he had a pedestrian 7:5 interception to TD ratio, he won his last two games against a Rams team that sat all of their starters and a Jags team that already clinched their division; not to mention, the Niners had one of and will have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. The Vikings return nearly their entire NFC Championship Game roster, make a lateral (maybe slightly upward) move at QB and add Sheldon Richardson to their already stacked defensive line. Simply put, there is nothing, I mean nothing, better than fading over-hyped teams in the NFL. Give me the Vikes to show up at home in week 1 (6-3 ATS at home last year) and take 49ers under 8.5 wins while you’re at it too.

Dallas Cowboys vs Carolina Panthers, 9/9 3:25pm CT

The Line: Panthers -3 (+100)

Betting Percentage Split: 72% of tickets on the Panthers

The play: Cowboys +3

This is an interesting spot for a lot reasons. Two talented teams with a lot of question marks coming into the season. From a betting perspective, we also see one of the most public teams in all of sports (Cowboys) getting only 28% percent of bets. Furthermore, we have seen this line move the opposite direction of the ticket count (you can get -2.5 in some places). In the betting world this is called ‘Reverse Line Movement’ and it usually is an indicator that professional bettors are targeting a particular side. I love siding with the pros here and taking the underdog Cowboys when the public has hopped off their bandwagon. The Panthers lost pro-bowl guard Andrew Norwell in the offseason and will be without Left Tackle Matt Kalil, and possibly Right Tackle Daryl Williams, in week 1, giving what was one of the best units in football last year a ton of questions heading into the season. I like the Panthers to regress this year and the Cowboys to take a few steps forward from their disappointing 2017 campaign. Give me the contrarian Cowboys (a phrase you will not hear often) in week 1 winning outright.

Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins , 9/9 3:25pm CT

The Line: Titans -2

Betting Percentage Split: 66% of tickets on the Titans

The play: Dolphins +2

The NFL is a strange league, especially when it comes to gambling. The Dolphins went 6-10 last year, got rid of two of their biggest stars in Ndamuking Suh and Jarvis Landry (and Jay Ajayi late last season as well), have injury concerns at QB and play a playoff team in week 1 with a QB who many people think is poised to make the proverbial leap this year. Well, I am not one of those people and I am not a believer in this Titans teams. While getting rid of talent like Suh, Landry and Ajayi may look bad on paper, not only do player acquisitions matter far less than the public perceives them to in the NFL, there was a method to Adam Gase’s madness. He has publicly stated that he got rid of these players, who were often polarizing personalities, to change the locker room culture and instill a level of stability. Will this translate to prolonged success in Miami? I’m not ready to make that leap, however I am ready to say it gives them enough of a spark in week 1 at home to beat an overvalued Titans team. Take the Dolphins and the points.

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers , 9/9 7:20pm CT

The Line: Packers -7/-7.5

Betting Percentage Split: 53% of tickets on the Packers

The play: Packers – 7/7.5

Somehow, after being one of the most boring teams in the NFL for the past couple years, the Bears are a part one of the most exciting and anticipated games of the weekend. Between the Khalil Mack addition, Aaron Rodgers coming back from injury, Nagy coaching his first game and Trubisky finally getting some freedom, this game has some genuinely interesting storylines to follow. From a gambling perspective, this game was as high as Packers -8.5 at one point and since the Khalil Mack addition it has moved all the way to -7 in some places. With the betting ticket disparity being so even, it’s most likely not professional action moving the line, rather bookmakers knowing that the public will be willing to pay a steeper price for the Bears with added excitement. Khalil Mack is a phenomenal player, as a former offensive lineman, players like him give me nightmares, however, on Sunday, his role will be limited and not nearly worth the 1.5 points they are giving him. Take advantage of this Vegas overreaction and take the Packers at -7 if you can get ‘em.

Bonus College Game:

Duke vs. Northwestern, 9/8 11:00 am CT

The Line: Northwestern -3

Betting Percentage Split: 75% of tickets on Northwestern

The play: Northwestern -3

Full transparency here: I am going to take Northwestern every week. While I hate seeing the public all over the Cats, as we typically fair better in the underdog role, this line indicates that these teams would be a pick-em on neutral field. I do not believe this to be an accurate assessment of these two teams. The two biggest questions coming into the season for NU were the health of Clayton Thorson and who was going to replace the production of RB Justin Jackson. Well, in week 1, Clayton looked phenomenal in his limited role, which will only increase week to week, and Jeremy Larkin went for 143 yards and 2 TDs on 26 carries in his debut as the starting RB. The Cats had arguably one of the most impressive week 1 victories going on the road, in prime time, against an upstart conference foe in Purdue and I love them to carry their 9 game win streak into this game and keep rolling. In what was by far their most disappointing result of the season, Northwestern got rolled by Duke last year, give me the Cats, all day, at home, in this revenge spot.

Sports business: Using targeted promotions to earn more dollars

Sports business: Using targeted promotions to earn more dollars

In Monday's episode of National Public Radio’s (NPR) Fresh Air Joseph Turow, professor of communications and associate dean for graduate studies at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, ominously "Warns That Brick-And-Mortar Stores Are Watching You."

While this may seem a bit like the real-life equivalent of "Big Brother" from George Orwell's book 1984, Turow is describing the reality that the tracking companies do in e-commerce has moved more fully into the offline stores. Using technology including mobile applications, iBeacons, loyalty cards, geo-targeting, and geo-fencing companies have more information about customers in-store buying and behavioral patterns. This enables companies to design targeted adds and promotions specifically tailored to customers that can increase the likelihood of them making a purchase.

While the ethical implications of this activity would require and entirely separate blog post, Turow and host Terry Gross discussed an important idea that comes from having this technology. In the past, companies have focused on rewarding and retaining loyal customers. Those are the customers that keep coming back and buying a company's products or service offerings. Because the cost of keeping a customer has been much lower than attracting a customer it would seem to make sense that companies would want to focus on keeping the customer's they have.

However, this may no longer be the optimal strategy for maximizing revenue growth. Instead, companies should be focused on the marginal customer rather than the most loyal customer. A loyal customer is loyal for a reason – he / she likes the company's service offerings. Why spend money on advertising and promotions if that person is already likely going to buy the product anyway?

Instead, targeted promotions should be focused on customers that will only make a purchase if they are influenced in the right way. For example, let's say a customer is indecisive about buying a pair of jeans. In the past, this customer may have tried a pair of jeans on and then left the store without purchasing them. Now, a customer can download a company's app to access additional content, deals, and other helpful information. In return for delivering these benefits the company can receive information from the app that shows the location of the person while he/she is in a store. It can then use a geo-fence, a virtual fence that surrounds a geographic area, to determine when a customer leaves a specific geographic area. If this customer leaves the store without making purchase after spending a certain amount of time (i.e. the time to try on the jeans) then the company could send a targeted ad saying that the customer has 15 minutes to come back to purchase the jeans at a 15 percent discount. Essentially, companies now can identify "disloyal" customers and then attempt to bring them back to stores to make purchases.

Using technology to reward "disloyal" customers is something that sports organizations need to increasingly focus on given the demands of the business. More specifically, there are loyal fans that are going to buy tickets, watch games, and purchase merchandise even if they do not see any advertising from a team. These customers add significant value and should not be ignored. However, sports organizations want to focus on targeting the marginal customer using new technology to encourage ticket sales, in-venue purchases and increase game viewership.

The added benefit of using technology and customer outreach in this way is that it should increase sponsorship revenue as well. Not only can sports organizations use targeted promotions to help their current sponsors expand reach, but organizations can also show how these targeted marketing efforts cause lifts in purchasing. For sports teams, clearly communicating how sponsorship/marketing assets are used to create a lift in sales provides powerful evidence of how similar tactics can drive new revenue for partners. Rewarding "disloyalty" seems counter-intuitive, but there are many ways that targeting marginal customers should lead to substantial revenue growth.

Adam is the CEO and Founder of Block Six Analytics. He is also a lecturer for Northwestern University's Masters of Sports Administration and the co-author of The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders For A High-Performance Industry.