“Gentlemen, We Will Chase Perfection”: The Extraordinary Success of the National Football League (NFL)

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CASE STUDY. The National Football League (NFL) is one of the most lucrative professional sports leagues in the world.

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“Gentlemen, We Will Chase Perfection”: The Extraordinary Success of the National Football League (NFL): Abstract

The National Football League (NFL) is one of the most lucrative professional sports leagues in the world. A multi-billion dollar enterprise with millions of fans filling stadiums or riveted to their screens on game day, the NFL and its teams have, over the years, been led by strong personalities who have built up an empire that is the envy of managers in every other professional sport. The result of a merger between two leagues, the NFL has experienced phenomenal growth since its founding in 1920.

Its business model has evolved significantly over the years. One of its distinguishing features is its revenue-sharing model, which favours parity by distributing revenue generated by the League evenly among its teams. Despite its commercial and financial success, however, the NFL has had to pay particular attention to its brand image, which has often been tarnished by incidents related to player conduct off the field, as well as to issues related to the protection and health of players. The encounter between a successful business model and the management of the various crises that have marked the contemporary history of the NFL makes this organization a fascinating subject of study for anyone interested in management.

Teaching objectives

  • Allow students to analyze the NFL
  • Allow students to study the NFL’s business model based on factual and historical elements
  • Allow students to assess the NFL’s business model based on its links with public institutional actors
  • Acquaint students with the Business Model Generation (BMG) analytical framework
  • Allow students to apply the BMG based on an organization’s performance
  • Encourage students to reflect on issues related to the NFL’s social responsibility, based on its management of human capital (the players)

Main themes

  • Business strategy and relationships with business partners
  • Branding, and ethics and corporate responsibility
  • Application of an analytical model so as to better understand the success factors of an organization in the entertainment industry

Concepts and theories

  • Business Model Generation (BMG): The BMG’s 9 building blocks are applied to the case of the NFL (customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources key, key activities, key partners, cost structure).
  • The notions of ethics of responsibility and the belief ethic are also discussed.

Additional information

Also available in French.

Teaching notes are available for teachers only. Contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre for more information.

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