React LLC Reveals Pandemic-Proof™ Football Schedule with 37.5% Fewer Games, Potential 4.6% TV Audience Increase

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React partners with Definitive Business Solutions, Inc. to optimize 10-game team schedules based on the NFL’s proposed 16-game 2020 match-ups.

And think about what happens if the season comes to a halt by not making the schedule Pandemic-proof™, and TV revenues suddenly go to zero, and stay there. It’s not too late to avoid this…yet. - Matt Birk, Commissioner of Sports, React LLC

Less than three weeks after floating the concept of a Pandemic-proof™ schedule for sports leagues, React LLC (“React”), creators of the Super Squares® live mobile game show, today released a “ready for prime time” schedule for the 2020 NFL season. React partnered with Reston, Virginia’s Definitive Business Solutions, Inc. (“Definitive”) to optimize the framework first introduced on July 21st. Remarkably, the 10-game “Twin Division” schedule consists entirely of pairings already scheduled by the NFL for the 2020 season, successfully culling six, primarily out-of-conference games per team. The expanded “Game Gaps” (days between games) proposed by the 17-week version provides an average of 12.4 days between games, compensating for the potential contraction of COVID-19 by multiple players on a team, without necessitating a multi-game quarantine that could delay or suspend a season already in progress.

While the 6-game per team reduction would reduce the overall number of NFL games from 256, to 160, the addition of a second nationally televised “late” game on Mondays and Thursdays is being proposed to offset much of the related losses of a reduced schedule. React is also releasing with each visualization a TV Audience Impact Analysis. Preliminary estimates demonstrate that the TV audiences over the revised season schedules could potentially increase, despite the reduction in total games, from 4.6% to as much as 11.6% when compared to 2019 estimates.

The “Twin Division” schedule, in both 17 and 20-week versions, a TV audience impact analysis, and analysis of varied “encampment” activities proposed by React can be downloaded at http://www.react.net/schedules. Visitors can also review and download the July white paper that first introduced the concept of a Pandemic-Proof™ Schedule.

React has received significant interest from professional sports insiders and media outlets since the initial framework was published last month, particularly when applied to the upcoming launch of the NFL season. “Once people looked more carefully at the economics behind the plan - which balances player safety and family life, team and player financial requirements, and fans’ voracious appetite for live football on TV – most ask, ‘Can I see a schedule on paper?’ We kept refining the concept, and now we have tangible proof in both 17 and 20-week formats,” remarks Matt Birk, React’s Commissioner of Sports. When asked which version is most likely to appeal to team owners and players, Birk suggests “…the 17-week version will have the least impact on the actual length of season, and it’s the one I think most players will instantly embrace.” Matt serves as the Commissioner of React, LLC, having formerly served as the Director of Football Development for the NFL. Birk joined the NFL after retiring from the Super Bowl XLVII Champion Baltimore Ravens, and is a six-time Pro Bowl, two-time All-Pro, and 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award recipient.

React’s CEO Frank Maggio partnered with Birk to develop a basic framework that would meet with the approval of most or all sports stakeholders, including fans and advertisers. Maggio’s unique background in media, media measurement, game theory and business strategy led him to look outside the company he founded for the computational power necessary to finalize an actual, working schedule. “The number of parameters required to intelligently meet the new challenges of COVID-19 are extraordinary. Along with abiding by the time-honored scheduling logic of the NFL and adding the right balance of TV revenues to offset the economic losses of partially filled home stadiums and fewer games, a workable solution requires capabilities and software that isn’t off the shelf,” notes Maggio. “We needed expertise in logistics and optimization, and Definitive was up for the challenge.”

John Sammarco, Definitive’s President, began discussing optimization with Maggio several weeks ago. “For years, we’ve wanted to apply our Definitive Pro® system to both the schedules and economics of sports, but that’s always been pretty locked up,” remarks Sammarco. “This is not only a great opportunity but also a worthy cause. We were happy to dedicate time and resources to address today’s new challenges, and we’ve enhanced our system to tackle the ‘Schedule Difficulty’ parameters that Frank put in front of us.” Maggio reinforces the value of the React-Definitive collaboration: “Collectively, our solutions can optimize the economics of team match-ups and provide insights into which networks and platforms are most viable for broadcasting and streaming new inventory. This is an opportunity to think smarter about the entire sports ecosystem during the pandemic.”

One of the often-overlooked casualties of the upcoming NFL season will be the negative financial impact of home games that require even more staff and security to comply with new health requirements – with 75% or fewer fans in the seats. Matt Birk is quick to point out that a reduction in games that would otherwise cost team owners from half a million to two million dollars each, ultimately translates to a savings that benefits everyone. “Our solution reduces losses at the stadium level, which could approach a quarter billion dollars nationally, while increasing them through television revenues. And think about what happens if the season comes to a halt by not making the schedule Pandemic-proof™, and TV revenues suddenly go to zero, and stay there. It’s not too late to avoid this…yet.”

An overview of the Pandemic-proof™ team pairings and schedule, as revised, include:

  • A 160-game regular season, with 153 games having offering players Game Gaps of 10-14 days, and 7 games with 8-day Game Gaps (and 13+ day Game Gaps to follow). The 17-week version proposes staggered conference starts in order to facilitate two televised games every Monday and Thursday.
  • A 17-week per conference version that will require one conference play one week earlier (and end one week earlier) than the current proposed NFL schedule, in order to avoid delaying the scheduled start of the post-season.
  • A 20-week version of the schedule that will extend the post-season by two weeks, but which could increase overall TV audiences by 11.6%. Only the first two weeks of matchups are optimized, to illustrate the methodology, and to allow for further optimization by stakeholders.
  • No interconference play until the final championship game.
  • Each team competes twice with division rivals over the course of the regular season, and once with a “Twin” division (East plays West, and North plays South for this season.)
  • The post-season is not addressed under the pairings just released. The July 21st release suggested elimination of wildcard or consolation tournament entries, with only division champions progressing, along the lines of NCAA basketball’s “Elite 8” format. Should the COVID-19 restrictions be lifted by January 1st, the normal post-season parameters could be instituted.
  • “Encampment Cycles” of 5 days per game (spanning two days before a game, game day itself, and two days after a game). The plan proposes both the home and away teams attend and encamp in a single facility, with testing every day while encamped, as well as two days of home tests before entering encampment. The plan does not address testing during player downtime.
  • Bolstered TV game time slots (2 Monday and 2 Thursday games every week) with reduced weekly Sunday games. As a result, there would be a 40% increase in nationally televised prime time games, which may be structured to accommodate East and West coast time zones.

A second set of proposed schedules and match-ups, featuring a “Schedule Difficulty” variation, is expected for release by August 10th – precisely one month before the planned start of the 2020 season. Based on preliminary analysis, React and Definitive believe Wednesday evening games may be required to accommodate a 17-week regular season under the additionally restrictive parameters.

About React

Founded by adtech and media measurement maverick Frank Maggio, React LLC is an experiential advertising technology and entertainment company that thinks of “advertising as a sport™.” By adrenalizing advertising™, React excites audiences with rewarding, branded two-screen experiences during the most viewed and attended sporting and media events in the world. The company’s commitment to “respect, protect, and reward attention” honors user privacy by never selling or sharing personally identifiable information. Details about React can be found at http://www.react.net, and Super Squares® details are available at http://www.SuperSquares.com.

About Definitive Business Solutions, Inc.

Definitive Business Solutions is headquartered in Reston, Virginia. Definitive provides innovative and proven business solutions to federal oversight agencies and select industries. They specialize in delivering projects and programs, facilitating technology and business investment decisions, and managing enterprise risks. Definitive’s solution portfolio includes Definitive Pro® which provides a collaborative process to build consensus and make complex, multi-criteria decisions in a wide range of scenarios. Definitive Pro® has been awarded three U.S. patents and is provided as a managed service hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Details about Definitive can be found at http://www.definitiveinc.com.

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Solomon Howard
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