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How Is the Super Bowl Like the Economist? February 4, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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In the Sunday Times, Richard Siklos makes a running start at a really interesting logical leap connecting event programming like the Super Bowl with weekly publications like the Economist and the New Yorker whose print editions hold their own in a 24/7 digital age . But then he plunges off the cliff, failing to deliver the connection.

    The Event, of course, is the most elusive and desirable of all media constructs, whether it’s “event television,” “the movie event of the season” or the release of the final “Harry Potter” book…To my eye, part of the Super Bowl’s pre-eminence stems from one of the savvy and counterintuitive ways in which the National Football League has reinforced its brand value: by emphasizing its scarcity.

The NFL’s magic, Siklos points out, lies partly in its relatively few, weekend-only (mostly) games, but also in the league’s rigorous — fascist? — control of the Product. (He doesn’t talk about Amuhrica and war metaphors and violence and culture, but he could.) He also says the NFL embraces new media, “But there is a difference between enhancing the brand and watering down the stew.” Unfortunately, the story doesn’t illustrate how to manage that difference. It seems to have something to do with publication frequency and, perhaps, not publishing everything online. Or maybe not.

Heck, it’s only a column. A free one even. What’d I expect?

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