Jordan Levin recently marked a year as chief content officer for the NFL. Levin’s colorful career includes stints as CEO of The WB, executive VP at Xbox Entertainment Studios and chief executive at digital media company Generate.
NFL games are one of the few remaining appointment viewing experiences in TV, but Levin is tasked with adding must-see NFL fare beyond the games. He’s also focused on increasing the league’s social presence, including innovative deals with Snapchat and Twitter. The latter will stream 10 Thursday-night games this season as part of the NFL’s “tri-cast” model.
Speaking of those Thursday games, Levin says the monochromatic “color rush” uniforms that made their debut last season and sparked a strong reaction from viewers, will “absolutely” be back. Levin spoke with B&C deputy editor Michael Malone. An edited transcript follows.
What are you most proud of in your first year?
Our team. We reorganized our team to take a content-centric, fan-first approach. We took the network team, digital team, social team and the NFL Films team, and instead of being organized around platforms, we’re organized as a more centralized content engine. We view the world as very flat and view the need to create content that services multiple screens and platforms, each in unique ways that conform to the specific language of each of the platforms, but [through] a central content team.
How do you measure success for the NFL’s Amazon docu-series, All or Nothing?
First and foremost, did we tell a good story? Did we meet fans’ expectations? It’s my understanding that it’s the highest-rated original program in Amazon’s history, defined by viewers’ star ratings [Amazon has confirmed]. We were able to not only meet fans’ expectations, but also tell team stories in a manner that made the teams very proud and elevated their awareness with a larger fan base.
Why is the Twitter deal a win for the NFL?
It allows us to expand our reach across multiple platforms. We have a tri-cast model with Thursday Night Football. We’re integrating the game experience directly with the social media experience. Our programming generates a tremendous amount of social activity. To integrate the games into a social media product interface that finds fans where they’re already communicating is very powerful, not only for fans and the league but also for advertisers.
What does having a team in L.A. mean for the NFL’s chief content officer?
It allows us to be able to access a team in much closer proximity. The Rams are also a very innovative organization, and the potential Latino fan base in Los Angeles is quite powerful and can provide a significant lift to growing the overall fan base.
Tell us about the NFL Network’s new Good Morning Football.
For the first time, we have a morning show in Manhattan and on the East Coast, which affords us a different talent pool. I’m overjoyed to work with [executive producer] Michael Davies—our careers started together at Disney. These shows live or die based on the talent and the chemistry of talent, and I think we have a great ensemble. We’re learning as we go, but the reception has been very positive. It’s got a very different feel and flavor, which allows us to serve a core fan base, but also reach out to new fans with a different voice.
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.