Since joining the National Football League as president of digital media and the NFL Network, Maryann Turcke (MEng 1993) has been trying to tackle an unusual problem for America’s most popular sport: declining viewership.
TV ratings for NFL games were down seven per cent in 2016 and 10 per cent in 2017. 1 Turcke says this is largely due to evolving viewing habits influenced by mobile technology, social media and web streaming trends. Super Bowl 2018 viewership stats seem to confirm her assertion: TV viewership was down eight per cent over the previous year, but it was the most live-streamed Super Bowl ever. “The way audiences consume content is changing,” she says. “We have to adapt our strategy to follow them where they go.”
Turcke says her engineering education equipped her with the expertise to manage large projects and use data analytics in decision-making. And as the president of Bell Media, she modernized CTV’s morning show.
Turcke oversees the NFL Network, 2 which is distributed over cable and satellite platforms, as well as NFL Films and NFL.com. With her team of 700, one way she is growing the NFL’s popularity is by producing compelling stories about players’ lives and their community work. Her strategy also includes increasing distribution on digital sites, such as airing football games live on Amazon. “At Bell, our philosophy was: pick a screen and fill it with goodness,” she says. “We want fans to get the content they want – games, statistics, commentary – anywhere and any time.”
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre