Michael Lipper: investment lessons from the Super Bowl
Following a trip round Asia veteran investor Michael Lipper gives us his insight on its biggest financial hubs and reveals how watching the Super Bowl can make you a better investor.
by Michael Lipper on Feb 14, 2012 at 09:42
My recent trip to Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai stimulated thinking and reading about investing in China. This was my first visit to Asia during a Super Bowl, and this blog post will focus on notes made while watching the game on a Chinese-language station.
The second of my two blogs from Shanghai summarizes my observations regarding investing in China.
As some of the members of this blog community know, I have the privilege to manage the defined contribution money for the National Football League and the Players Association. Thus, watching the Super Bowl is something of a pleasurable requirement wherever I happen to be.
This year I found that viewers in Shanghai were treated to the same excellent camera work from the same network that many of you saw.
Lessons for the team owners
In terms of the league activities, the NFL owners operate through a series of committees. (This is an excellent example of successful self-regulation, which in the past has worked quite well for the financial community.)
The Competition Committee develops the rules of the game that is fair for all thirty-two teams and their players, with a focus on what appeals to their fans, (both in the stadiums and in front of their television sets). One of the folklores in the league is that on any given game day, any team can beat any other team.
Even with this principle, before the season began there was not a single expert that believed that the eventual winner of the Super Bowl would be the New York Giants. Through the complexities of the game schedules, the eventual winner got to play in its finest game of the year. (That should be some consolation to the chair of the committee, who just happens to be the main owner of the great New England Patriots, who almost won.)
For many years the team owners have been trying to export the game beyond the US. While there were a few advertisements on the Chinese language station, there were a lot fewer than what we would have received at home.
The fewer ads financially supported a much-worked single commentator. Watching from Shanghai, I could see how often nothing was happening on the field. These programming gaps were filled I am sure, in the home market.
My conclusion from this observation is that the league has a big marketing effort ahead of it if it wants to build a fan base in Shanghai with its twenty million-plus population.
Lessons for the team cities
Teams often take on the attitudes and personalities of the cities they call home. Boston was founded on an idea, in this case, religious freedom. Residents of the city became the intellectual spur that led to the American Revolution.
The first signer of the Declaration of Independence was the governor of the state. Later on, Boston would become famous for developing trust law and acting conservatively for others. Its football team, the New England Patriots (originally the Boston Patriots), played largely to these tunes, with finely executed, and generally conservatively managed plays.
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