News Column

Fitch: Wiring NFL Stadiums Key to Improving Ticket Sales

January 30, 2014

NEW YORK --(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Enhancing in-game experiences through wi-fi access and other measures should mitigate the National Football League's risk of weaker ticket sales and resistance to ticket price increases, Fitch says. Approximately 20 of the league's 31 stadiums now offer wireless access. As the Super Bowl approaches, the National Football League and its franchises continue to improve stadium Wi-Fi and cellular capabilities in an effort to bolster the in-game fan experience and drive stronger ticket sales. This effort should help offset the risks to attendance of improved television technology and the lingering effects of the recession. Some costs of upgrading wireless offerings, improving scoreboards and other in-game audio and video features could be financed through a large capital expenditures plan called the NFL Ventures G-4 Program. Qualifying projects can get loans of up to $200 million during the construction period with the amount determined on a case-by-case basis based on the member clubs' financial contribution to the project. Seven projects are currently approved under the G-4 Program, including facilities in Atlanta , Carolina, Cleveland , Green Bay , Minnesota , Philadelphia and San Francisco . NFL Ventures issued debt in 2013 to support a number of these projects. Advertiser participation can also lower capital costs for these improvement projects. Some stadiums have created partnerships with Verizon or AT&T in which the sponsoring company pays for enhancements in exchange for advertising at the stadium. A number of companies implemented improvements, both permanent and temporary, to the infrastructure at Met Life Stadium in preparation for the Super Bowl. Demand for NFL televised content continues with the 2013-14 season experiencing stable regular season television viewership while some playoff games garnered significant viewership increases. The NFL's contracts with CBS, NBC , FOX and ESPN from 2014-2021 are valued, on average, at $4.99 billion annually, equalling approximately $155.9 million per year for each franchise. However, mobile distribution is also rising, allowing fans to remain connected to games, scores and fantasy league updates at all times. Before the 2013 season, Verizon agreed to extend its exclusive contract with the NFL at a rate 40% above the previous contract's value. Verizon will pay approximate $250 million per year to allow its subscribers to stream all live NFL games on the NFL Mobile app. Additional information is available on . The above article originally appeared as a post on the Fitch Wire credit market commentary page. The original article, which may include hyperlinks to companies and current ratings, can be accessed at . All opinions expressed are those of Fitch Ratings. ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS . IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE ' WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM '. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE. Fitch Ratings Chad Lewis , +1-212-908-0886 Senior Director Global Infrastructure Group 33 Whitehall Street New York, NY or Charles Askew , +1-212-908-0644 Analyst Global Infrastructure Group or Rob Rowan , +1-212-908-9159 Senior Director Fitch Wire 1 State Street Plaza New York, NY or Media Relations Elizabeth Fogerty , New York , +1-212-908-0526 Source: Fitch Ratings

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