Thanks to Larissa Mouttou from AFL Queensland for taking the time to share her insights about digital, fan engagement and her experience in working with NRL and AFL.
If you missed the conversations on the #ama channel, you can read the transcription here including the followup questions from other members.
Q. Sean Callanan: what differences and similarities have you found moving from NRL to AFL?
A. Larissa Mouttou: Great question, and one I am often asked having worked at club level in both the NRL and AFL (Sydney Swans, Manly Sea Eagles & Parramatta Eels), and now governing body with AFL Queensland.
The most striking difference I have found between the two codes relate to the maturity of the markets each of the teams operated in.
While I was at the Swans, Sydney was still a one team town with a well supported and mature fan base. The Swans dominated the AFL landscape in the Sydney market both in terms of fan support and content (if you wanted to watch AFL live in Sydney, a Swans match was your only option).
With half of all NRL clubs based in Sydney, there was a huge difference in a market environment where fans had an abundance of choice for at match content.
Now I am back with the AFL in Queensland, I am seeing a combination of those two experiences. The Lions are a well established brand in a predominantly NRL market and experiencing all the challenges that go along with fighting for market share, while the SUNS are establishing an AFL side at the elite level of our game in a community with a long history of AFL participation.
Q. John McCauley: wondering what your outlook is on the growth of Rugby worldwide?
A. Larissa Mouttou: Hi @johnmccauley.
The success of the Toronto Wolfpack in sports mad Canada has been a pleasure to see in North America and with the potential for a New York franchise Rugby League certainly has the potential to grow internationally.
Last year's RLWC was incredibly entertaining and demonstrated that there is broad international fan appeal for rugby league. The Tongan fans set a benchmark for supporting their national team on the international stage.
The hype rugby league can generate is immense. Providing opportunities for fans to connect with rugby league internationally is going to be the key to just how well it can grow across the globe.
Q. Dan Gardner: do you think we could see that type of growth in the USA for the AFL as a potential target market?
A. Larissa Mouttou: Hi @Dan Gardner
No doubt the fast pace and unique nature of AFL would be appealing internationally. The biggest challenge for AFL in achieving any substantial growth has been securing the appropriate green space for the traditional format of the game. The vast majority of sports are played on rectangles not ovals! Modified formats like AFLX are going to be crucial to giving AFL a platform for international growth.
Q. Jason Davis: What digital innovation have you seen in terms of fan engagement at games in major codes in AU
A. Larissa Mouttou: Morning @jase
You really start to show your age when you think back to all the innovations that have been made in fan engagement over the years!
I remember back at the SCG Trust running card printers in the office 24 hours a day for months to fulfill membership renewals. Now with clubs like GWS leading the way with wearables, team guernseys and ticketing have been combined.
It will be interesting to see what innovations come as a result of the Sydney Football Stadium and Parramatta Stadium redevelopments in NSW, hopefully the tenant clubs of these venues take the unique opportunity to push the envelope forward in digital fan engagement.