NBC Sports announced on Wednesday the launch of its first team-wide fan club featuring the Loyola Chicago men’s basketball team through the company’s name, image and likeness platform NBC Sports Athlete Direct. The players will use their NIL rights to promote the club and provide virtual access to its members.
Fans can join the club for $29.99. The participating players will receive a share of the revenue through the NIL opportunity. Members of the fan club will receive an autographed team photo, access to a podcast episode featuring several players and a virtual meet and greet at the end of the season.
“The way we see things right now is we’re in the first inning of a nine-inning baseball game,” NBC Sports SVP of Strategic Initiatives and Head of Diversity & Inclusion Damon Phillips said in a phone interview. “The key right now is to continue to learn and build institutional knowledge about what works, what doesn’t work and then also continue to iterate to make sure we’re taking those learnings to apply them to new products.
“I’m a big believer in trying to A/B test things as well. Our first kind of iteration of the fan club was an individual player, Chris Tyree, who’s a phenomenal student-athlete, and this next iteration is looking at an entire team participating so we can compare and contrast, and see which model works better or it might not be an ‘either or.’ It could be an ‘and.'”
USA Network broadcast to promote Loyola Chicago fan club
The broadcast of Saturday’s men’s basketball game between Loyola Chicago and George Mason, which airs on USA Network at 2:30 p.m. ET, will feature several promotions for the fan club. NBCUniversal owns USA Network.
Phillips said NBC’s longstanding relationship with the Atlantic 10 Conference, which officially added Loyola Chicago as a member last summer, played a role in the selection of the Ramblers for the team-wide fan club. NBC Sports owns television and streaming rights for some A-10 men’s and women’s basketball games.
NBC also has a regional sports network in Loyola Chicago’s market with NBC Sports Chicago.
“We believe that being able to integrate and promote NIL products within the game broadcast is a big, competitive differentiator for NBC Sports,” Phillips said.
Phillips said viewers can expect to see promotions for the NBC Sports Athlete Direct fan club through graphics and an on-screen QR code, which will take users to the fan club’s website. Each participating athlete will receive a unique code, which will track the sales of club memberships for each athlete.
“It’s a learning opportunity,” Phillips said. “They’re learning about customer acquisition again. They’re learning about how to bring fans into the experience and they’re also learning about commerce.”