Josh Walker 

All right, good morning everybody. By now you are well caffeinated and you realize that you are at the sports stage at CES, it's where you are. You guys just heard a great panel about how technology is changing the live experience. At Sports Innovation Lab, we believe that technology is changing the fans expectations because they're walking around CES, they're experimenting with new technology. They're playing with voice technology at home, their expectations from what they get from professional sports is changing all the time. So what you're in for now is a special treat because that expectation that fans have that their live sports experience is going to change really puts a tremendous amount of pressure on traditional sports to innovate. And Taylor Bloom from SportTechie, the founder is going to explore a lot of these topics with the CIO of the NFL Michelle McKenna, and they're going to walk through how Michelle has to balance the pressure to innovate and keep those fans engaged while making maintaining the integrity and the tradition of the NFL which has become the platform for professional sports in North America. So to give you guys a sense of what they're going to cover, let's play a short video to get you all hyped up. Are you ready for some football?

 
Josh Walker 

All right, let's do it.

 
Josh Walker 

Good stuff in their helmet technology pylon cams, advanced statistics. This is a treat. Taylor, Michelle, please join us on stage.

 
Taylor Bloom 

Thank you, Josh. Michelle. Pleasure to be sitting down with you. Thank you for the time. So this is Michelle McKenna, NFL Chief Information Officer. With 42 minutes, we have plenty of time to go in depth. I'm really excited to chat with you. Obviously you are part of the biggest sports league in the US, in the world. There is a lot going on in the digital frontier for the NFL. So we'll get into all that. But I want to start with the easy fun one. You grew up in a small town in Alabama, so SEC football country, and now you're on Park Avenue, working on, you know, the headquarters in New York. Can you take me through that kind of journey? How did your upbringing potentially help you get to this CIO point?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, you know, I did. You're right. I grew up in Alabama where for those of you who follow sec football, football's a religion, so and you have to pick sides and you pick it early. So I guess I was a little bit of a rebel and I bought the tradition and chose to go to Auburn. While my little brother went and played offensive line, well, not so little for Bama, so you know my dad always knew his kid would make it to the NFL. He just didn't think it would be me.

 
Taylor Bloom 

Nice the Dark Horse I love it.

 
Michelle McKenna 

But I was always been like a die hard football fan and have such appreciation of the game and understanding of the game from, you know, really little. So the fact that I worked my way through lots of non sports areas like Disney and Universal Studios and others, and now have brought that same type of approach to sports,

 
Taylor Bloom 

Right. I'm sure that made for some very fun family gatherings between Auburn and Bama. And that's

 
Taylor Bloom 

Yes, yes. Now on that journey from where you grew up, obviously football is part of your family growing up, and then you made a variety of other stops, that I think set you up for your role at the NFL. Can you talk a bit about some of your previous career experiences and then why you were tapped for this CIO role with NFL or why you think that is? Yeah.

 
Michelle McKenna 

You know, I think I've worked at some of the biggest brands in America and I was responsible for technology at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. And the launch of Wizarding World of Harry Potter so I really get, you know, a fan experience. We call them guests. But fans are the best and football fans are the best of the best. And they deserve the best. So one of the things that's very similar between the places that I've worked as the expectations as our hosts just said, of our fans, and what we are supposed to deliver is very high and technology and connectivity and all the things that that can add to the experience is something that I had a lot of experience with, at both Disney and universal and so I think that was the initial reason I got the interview and then I don't know how it happened because I I didn't know anyone at the NFL but it just, it was kind of like it was it was meant to be and it's been a it's been a great ride. This is my eighth eighth season. And that's a lot of fun.

 
Taylor Bloom 

I like the distinction you just made between guests and fans can talk a bit more about how does that differentiation apply to your role in NFL now? So I think that's important.

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah. You know, from a, as I said, You know, I think the passion that our fans have for the game and whether you are a season ticket holder that has had those season tickets handed down to you generation to generation or your brand new fan, this discovering our game, we have to provide the right kinds of experiences that speak that speak to those fans. And that's the same, you know, for customers and other industries and guests in the hospitality industry. But what I've really learned and you know, technology is the enabler, it should really be frictionless and seamless and almost invisible. And it shouldn't be about the technology, it should be about the experience. And when you really get technology, right. That's what happens. And so our goal is to enhance our game and make it the most competitive best product. Sports in the world. And I think this wildcard weekend shows you that we're pretty on target with that. But there's a lot of technology behind all that a lot of data that drives the competitiveness of our teams. And drives the fan experience as well. So that's where, you know, kind of the immersion of technology and experience comes to play and for guests, fans or customers, depending on your, your industry,

 
Taylor Bloom 

Right and picking up on a phrase you just said there Michelle was getting technology right. Yeah. I want to go back to that. And I want to preface that by kind of painting a picture of as the NFL CIO, can you paint a picture of the different technology initiatives you are essentially in charge of, because it spans from player performance to fan engagement to a lot of things?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, I mean, if you watch in any games, you know, I have a team that reports to me that's responsible. I think some of them are here today that are responsible for other communication systems. So when you see a player out there, you know, hitting their helmet because they can't hear, you know, we're having a flight coach to coach communication has gone out. And so it's everything from that to making sure you know, we have all the data that we gather from the sensors that we place on players that drive not only player health and safety initiatives, rules, changes, etc. but also provides fan engagement. So it's a it's a wide breadth of responsibility, but it's it's really enabled by my approach as a CIO has always been business lead transformation and technology will come at the right time. When the business now you have to help them sometimes and you know, to change something that's 100 we're celebrating our hundredth year to change those things. Sometimes it's very difficult but yeah, that's, that's a bit of the breadth of the types of things that I'm involved in.

 
Taylor Bloom 

That's so, 100th year, you have to change some things. I definitely want to get into the tradition vers innovation collision. But going back to that phrase getting technology right now that you painted that picture of the many different tech initiatives you are in charge of for the NFL. What are some examples of you guys getting technology right? Today? I mean, we're in the middle of NFL playoffs, as you just said. So it's a great time. Now this conversation, what comes to mind when you say technology? Right? We have it right right now?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Well, I, I think any of my guys that work for me out there will say do not say it or knock on wood while you say it. You know, you don't ever hear from anyone until it goes wrong. You know, I never worked anywhere where the head football coach would talk about technology in the press conference and slam it and say, you know, it was awful because there was a dropped issue. But I think what we have gotten right is the fact that we have integrated now what used to be very separate entities on the sideline specifically, that managed all communications, as well as, you know, instant replay and those kinds of things. And now that's all managed and coordinated. And that's what's enabled sort of our centralized review process that happens in New York, which I know a lot of people have a lot of opinions about this course. We're always working to make that the best and we're continuing and we're even working on some new advancements in that area. But I think our you know what we're going to get to see a great example of technology done right when the stadium opens here in Las Vegas, I had a chance to meet last night with the folks that are building and the kind of connectivity that's getting built in there. Every time a new stadium comes on, you get a chance to up your game and we're looking you know, very forward to it. The fan experience that's going to happen, you know, here in Vegas,

 
Taylor Bloom 

How how involved is your team with the the New Vegas scene and you're totally right. Every time a new stadium comes out, it just sets the bar a little higher for new innovation. But in Vegas in particular, because it's such a unique sports market. So how involved are you with that?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Our office supports, you know, all our clubs. And from a technology perspective. My team supports them as they do design to make sure that you think about the long range plans. You know, you want to future proof something when you're spending billions. But it's how you know, we're here at a tech conference, how it's impossible to future proof, right? But you need to build in flexibility. So we help with that. And we get to learn from every stadium. I mean, every stadium that's built and then every Super Bowl that we have, we learn a lot. And then we get to bring that to fruition and new state.

 
Taylor Bloom 

Right. Now, speaking of that learning NFL 100 is happening. 100th season. While you've been in your position for the last eight years, what are some of the biggest things you've learned from other stadiums from other teams from other Super Bowls that have happened to us? I mean, you guys put on some of the biggest events in the world every year. So I'd love to hear your perspectives on just what you got wrong, what you learned what you're improving, and things that come to top of mind.

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, you know, my first Super Bowl working was New Orleans when the lights went out. So my first thought was, Oh, God, please don't let me be in charge of anything with power. So thank God I wasn't but we've learned every Super Bowl, we learned something new and I think not just Super Bowl, but you'll hear our Commissioner often talk about always learning and always getting better and always setting the bar higher. And I think Yeah, there are some things that we don't get right. And there are things that in some cities are more difficult than others. So one of the things that I've learned in working now, this will be my eighth Super Bowl is working closely with the host committees in the stadium authorities and all this sort of governmental and different ownerships of the tech and what we're expected to deliver in such a short period of time. Planning is everything. And we have an amazing events team that does such a great job. And one of the biggest learnings, I think, for me after I joined the league was we found that the tech teams weren't brought in until the end, after the vision was built. And they decided they wanted to put this venue here that venue there and then we would be in at the end as the tech team, you know, last in the chain, right, looking like we were blockers when we were really deciding, guys, you got to bring us in when you first think of a venue so that we can, you know, help you bring it to life and that was something that I think we all learned that You know, every company is a tech company now. So you can't leave your technology thought till the end, it just can't, you will fail. Yeah. So I think we used to do a little bit of leaving the technology thought till the end. But thanks to great business partners, I have in across the league and we just not shutting up. We're in in the very beginning of everything now.

 
Taylor Bloom 

And so this goes to talk about the collision of tradition versus innovation. And, you know, the tech partners, you're grouping brought in at the beginning of projects and timelines instead of at the end. In your eighth year now, as a CIO, how has that collision of tradition and innovation changed, if at all, hopefully, I assume it's changed for the positive for for your role?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, you know, I was the first CIO at the NFL, so I not only had to sort of figure out what needed to be changed. But I also had to kind of talk to a sort of a non corporate at you know, sports is a little bit different than a (inaudible) 50 company, which is I was used to big corporate, you know, decision making to different hierarchy.

 
Michelle McKenna 

And I had to learn how to navigate the sports world, but also teach the organization like why I, why I was passionate about these things. And yeah, we are our game has been around for 100 years and as great as it is because of the tradition. So, I think to do my job, and I have to have a healthy respect and frankly, a reverence for the game itself. I mean, it all starts with the game and as long as you keep that in mind and whenever you suggest something new, you keep in mind how it will increase competitiveness, how will make our product on the field better, how fans will be more deeply engaged. And if you can sort of check all those things off, you find, you know, certainly there'll be resistors. But you'll find champions, that that will help you, you know, push it through.

 
Taylor Bloom 

Right. So what's an example of a new tech that your team has introduced or a partners introduced? And then what is the process like for that technology to be implemented throughout the league?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, you know, we, we don't do a lot. We try not to do a lot of top down and we'd like to help our clubs make the right decisions around how they do their own fan experience. But the game itself is managed 100% from the top down so you don't get an option to do or not do some of the things we want to do on the sidelines. However, we are governed by a competition committee that very much regulates, you know, how far we go with things. So for example, when we first started gathering all the data from chips that were placed on players, it was tracking all of their emotions on the field. It was you could instantly see how a play unfolded and what happened or didn't happen. And so we wanted to share all that data with all the clubs and we had a little bit of a resistance because the clubs are like, give me my data, don't give my data to any other club. And then eventually, people began to understand this is just a different form of stats, we share all our stats with every, all the clubs, get all each other's stats, this is just the next generation of those stats. So we partnered with AWS on a big initiative to drive next gen stats to the next level. And that has now really revolutionized how teams plan for do their game planning. And in the beginning, it was met with some resistance.

 
Taylor Bloom 

Why was that?

 
Michelle McKenna 

I think it's just you know, look, if you're a coach that's been super successful, your way and people start talking about things like Advanced Data Analytics, or artificial intelligence, or a machine that can predict what a play is, I mean, it's just like any other industry, right? You're worried about job security.

 
Michelle McKenna 

job security, or

 
Michelle McKenna 

can a younger, less experienced coach come up to speed faster because they now have access and you know what we want to increase the diversity in our coaching ranks, we want to be able to have a deeper bench or talent. So all of these things, you know, they fit our values, but we also we introduce them in a way that they don't disrupt the competitiveness of our game and, you know, you got to get through and pass some pretty opinionated head coaches along the way.

 
Taylor Bloom 

So to speak to that, you know, first Chief Information Officer at the NFL. You just, to switch gears here a little bit. Michelle. You said a great line to me backstage, which is, you know, you're the first CIO or not the first female CIO. And you've been very outspoken in diversity in sports. And obviously, you're in a very high ranking position in a very large league. We just talked about tech and tradition versus innovation. Now, diversity versus tradition, how has that been something you've you've dealt with as a female leader within a big league, and ushering in more diversity into the league and kind of being a role model for a lot of potential females that want to work in the sports industry.

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, you know, something I definitely take very seriously. And I recognize that, as I had told you backstage that, you know, a lot of the opportunities that I've had in my career have begun, have happened because I did happen to choose my dominated fields and male dominated industries. But so I had a lot of bad with advocacy from men along the way. And that's what we really need to make sure happens. And I think at at the league in the last several years, we've been working very hard at that. I mean, we are, we're the first league to develop programming specifically to bring women into our front office positions and clubs as well as coaching on the field. We now have four full time coaches more than any other league. And we do a women in football forum that brings about a lot of opportunities. And I think that's all it is. It's just it's just as simple as making sure you check an unconscious bias you might have at the door. So for example, my football knowledge and IQ is is pretty high. And I still surprised people when I say things. And they're like, wow, you know, a girl really knows football that well? Well, yeah. I mean, I've been trained in football since I was like four years old, right? I think just checking unconscious bias is the thing that the men I work with, they appreciate it when we pointed out and done in the right way you can really make long lasting change.

 
Taylor Bloom 

Right. So you've almost you seen males as allies, essentially, in kind of adding more diversity into your role and other roles around you. Is that fair to say? Is that something that stood out to me that I think is important?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, I mean, look, the last several years if it's taught us anything, it's about how men and women interact in the workplace has changed and now women have a voice about how that works more more than they ever have. And I have been in industries where I've certainly seen the the shadow side of, of those dynamics. But I've also been very fortunate and that I've had so many male sponsors and advocates. And I think it's very important for women that are in particularly in the sports field, you asked for that, because they can't really read your mind that you need help, and that you want a little help getting to the table. And then women need to support each other. I mean, oftentimes, you know, certainly if it's a very thin female staff, sometimes it can get competitive among, you know, the females even more than the men. So I also in our women's interactive network at the NFL, we talked about that. It's also your responsibility to create safe places where women can talk to each other about things and help each other. So like, I I mean, my daughter's graduating in the class of 2020 and I tell her all the time, like, look, you can't be afraid of men like they are. They are going to be a big difference maker in your career, and you need them and you need women. And you need to advocate for yourself and find others to do so,

 
Taylor Bloom 

I think it's really nicely said, and so we've, so far we've set the tone of the tech initiatives you and your team overlook. We've talked a little bit about how kind of diversity is played into your role in that collision of tradition, innovation and where diversity plays in. I want to try to pull from you how new tech ideas and products come about, because it can't just be a bunch of white males saying, look, here's some (inaudible) to us. It's very, it becomes very insular that way so I'm trying to combine all the threads we've, we've talked about to this point and dive into how you and your team in the NFL. That's new technologies, new technology partners, because you know, you guys have a massive footprint so you want to make sure everything is rolled out properly. In the end the technology is right What does that process look like for you guys, when you start net new, we have this great new initiative we want to do and

 
Taylor Bloom 

to be at the front of the line, like you said earlier, not the back. So what does that kind of look, that whole process look like for you guys?

 
Michelle McKenna 

You know, we do do a lot of planning. And I'd say a lot of our success and innovation, because in the sports world, for those of you that work in it, you know, we're we're not big staffed, it's like, again, that was the wake up call I had coming from a big company to sports. So the way we've been able to do some of the most amazing things in the last eight seasons since I've been there has been because we've had great sponsors like Microsoft and Verizon and AWS. And the way those new ideas come about is our sponsorship and partnership teams work very closely with the tech teams. And we will present a need that needs to be solved. And then we'll find the very best partner to help With that, and sometimes it's a, for example, one of the first we did is we needed Wi Fi and all the stadiums. I mean, and believe it or not, in 2012 when I joined, there were stadiums that didn't have Wi Fi. And, you know, I, we had to do some work to convince owners that hey, Wi Fi was is as important as plumbing, like, you must have it right. And we had to find a partner that could help us with that. And so we joined Verizon and extreme networks together to partners in the NFL, and then they went out to every stadium on their own, with our, you know, assistance and through various sponsorship arrangements and deals we were able to go but when I started I think there were like six stadiums with Wi Fi and then within within like, you know, 18 months, all of them had Wi Fi and it's only continued to grow. So I think bringing a need forth and then also are sometimes you know, ideas can come from anywhere and you said it. It's not a group of people that are charged with technology to come up with the ideas. Fans, fans tell us if we listen exactly what they want. Our players tell us what they need. Our coaches definitely tell us what you know. So it is I think a big part of my job is listening. And then connecting dots when I hear one group say they need this and another group say they need this and you know what, it's the same solution that would serve multiple purposes. That's when I know Okay, that's a winner. That one's going to go to the top of the list and I'm going to reach out to our sponsorship group and say, Hey, can you find, you know, the best in class, right? To help us with that?

 
Taylor Bloom 

That's really interesting. And so you, you talked about kind of connecting dots, do you I'm sure you do. But I want to dive into what you guys do to foster those conversations because you have players the coaches, the fans, the ownership groups, the individual venues themselves. What do you guys do to make sure they're all connected? So you're you're not relied on to connect the dots yourself?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, you know, it has been a little bit harder because like when I worked for Disney, you know, I could just walk out and go sit in a theme park and talk to, you know, guests and get like instant feedback. And you know, this is a little harder, it's distributed. But we have a good committee structure of owners that oversee certain areas of the business. So we have a good digital committee and we have a broadcast committee. They make big decisions. And then underneath those committees are working groups that really give us club representation on what they think and how they want to go about it. And we do a lot of in depth fan research. Our marketing team is now embarked on a whole new journey around getting the next generation of fans which means really listing and doing things that we might not traditionally have done like fortnight and distributed on Tik Tok and you know, like, things that the NFL like just a couple years ago would have been like, huh? You know what? we would do that? And now we have a CMO who's really championing that. And so that's the kind of thing that you really need the business champions to be pushing, and then finding the tech solutions to deliver.

 
Taylor Bloom 

And that's a perfect segue into something I want to talk about, which is kind of in the next couple years, what can fans start to expect that you guys are working on now that will really alter or enhance their experience with whether they're at home on the couch or in the stadium, experiencing the NFL products?

 
Michelle McKenna 

You know, we always say the best place to watch an NFL game is in an NFL Stadium, but let's face it, the living room is pretty great. So what we really have to do in our stadiums, and I think 5g is going to revolutionize what happens and what you can do with it. edge computing that it brings. And that kind of speed and connectivity, where we developed an innovation fund with Verizon, and they are a big partner of ours. And we've already rolled out 5g to 16 stadiums this season, including it'll be the first Super Bowl, this coming up Super Bowl that has 5g. Even though there's not as many devices in the marketplace we're getting, we want to be ahead of the devices, we want to be, you know, trying to install it after everybody has a device. I think that'll be one of the biggest things that will wrap because it will allow you to immerse yourself in the game in a different way, holding your phone up to the field and getting instant stats on sort of who's on the field or, you know, something as simple as the virtual yellow line that you get to see on broadcast that you don't see in the stadiums. And there's so much that can happen when you have that kind of speed and connectivity. And that's been one of our biggest challenges because their stadiums are made of concrete and filled with people who are full of you know made of water and two things that signals don't travel through our concrete and water. And I think 5g will really revolutionize the in stadium band experience from everything from food and beverage to ticketing to Ingress egress, and you're inside experience. But there are other things I that are going to be as impactful or more impactful to the longevity and, and preservation of our game for the next hundred years. And that is we launched a partnership with AWS to study using AI NML the mechanics of injuries and how over time using these advanced tools, you know, we hope to be able to predict injuries before they happen and be able to continue to change your roles, like the kickoff change equipment, like new helmets, and new shoes. And what these partners, you know, do for us, I think that's, that's a big part of what the next, you know, 10 years, much less hundred years will bring about is the power of, you know, what, what computing can do to help preserve and grow our game?

 
Taylor Bloom 

And what does the team look like that's working on these new capabilities for the new computing opportunities that are out there? And is that a team that you're overseeing? And making sure you're essentially like hey look, 5g's gonna be everywhere, make sure you're taking advantage of it. How does that prioritization happen within your organization?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, so the 5g example, I mean, most of our efforts and sort of my mode of operation, the way I work is very collaborative. And I try not to be top down unless it's something like cyber security or something like that. Then there's No room for discussion. But for things like, you know, I just make up a, you know, it's usually a team of people, a steering committee that has, you know, interest in at all happening. And at the end of the day, we own the result, which means when you all on the result, you know, it gets done and it gets done. Right. And so 5g, we did say to all the stadiums, you know, you have to have it by x date. So that means let's get going and we by the way of bringing a sponsor to the table that's going to help you get there. So we broker the discussions between our sponsorship team, our tech team and the clubs and we find a win win for all three. And so that's kind of how, how that one comes about. And the same on player health and safety. There's, we have a data analytics team. That's that's led by a really smart group of data scientist, and we pair them with the people that AWS is bringing to the table who are experts and you know, computer vision. And AI and machine learning which we would never have that in house expertise. We've never paid for that in house expertise, full time. But to have a partner that brings that. That's that's kind of how it works. And what I do is, again, a dock connector to make sure I get the right people together in a room and that we don't let one group just go off on a tangent. And they're actually solving the same problem that another group is is doing right, which happens a lot in the tech tech space.

 
Taylor Bloom 

I was going to talk about that and how you align some of your your tech partners. Obviously, you mentioned your Microsoft AWS horizon, some major technology companies. What's that process like to essentially like, here's NFL vision, you can come on board and help us with this and being the dock connector for those out of organization major tech partners.

 
Michelle McKenna 

That's probably been the most satisfying part of my job has been. When I first joined. We were the tech teams really were not in the sponsorship discussion. We got it afterwards, we'd get like, okay, here's our tech sponsor for this. And then we'd scramble to try to figure out how to use them. That has totally changed. The lady who runs all revenue for the NFL, another powerful female at the league. She and I work very collaboratively together and we get to go to executive briefing centers with, you know, the tech giants of the world and pick their brain and learn from them. But what they find from us is such a unique use case that if they could solve this

 
Taylor Bloom 

It's very applicable.

 
Michelle McKenna 

 It's very applicable. So yes, it gets a big splash from a marketing standpoint to associate yourself with the NFL, but when you solve something for the NFL like our schedule, or when you help us solve for, you know, the types of things that we're doing like on the sideline with Microsoft and how they helped us that makes if you can solve a tablet surviving on that field in those conditions with that kind of usage. You, you really configure out most of corporate america how to use it in most of corporate America. So what I love is that our lab, our field, and our experiences are so unique, that these, these tech partners love working with us. And that's how we end up getting, you know, AWS to the table. And, you know, our sponsorship team works really hard on all that. But they've also found that even companies that were non traditional tech companies are now tech companies so Visa and others that they're, they're all interested in how to activate through technology. And so I think a lot has been written about the intersection of CMOs and CIOs and CTOs and CEOs and how, how that's changed a lot of companies and I think in the sports world, where, you know, traditional sponsorship partnership integrates, and do it does it really well. I think that's that's where you get those those big aha opportunities,

 
Taylor Bloom 

Much more than slapping a logo on something and

 
Michelle McKenna 

You know, what, people, that logos now, right, they want you to use their product, and we are we have needs for all these products. And so, it's, it's great. We, you know, all of our sponsors and partners have have been so supportive and helpful. And, you know, certainly we have an agreement that we have to follow and the lawyers always make sure we're staying in our lanes, but the collaboration that is I feel like in my career I've gotten to have with some of the best has just grown me exponentially more than I would have. I'd have just stayed a CIO at Disney or, you know, even though that was the path I was on, I thought it was going to sort of slow down and go to sports. Unfortunately, no, actually, all right. And now, you know, the exposure to these partners, has opened up a whole, whole nother, you know, career almost of, of opportunities. So,

 
Taylor Bloom 

speaking of other opportunities, you're on a number of boards, as well, in addition to your role with the NFL. Can you talk a bit about First of all, what those are for the audience and then how those experiences might play into your CIO role with the NFL.

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, I was very, you know, happy that the NFL was supportive of me serving on corporate boards because it was something I was doing before I arrived with the NFL and I think it's important to always bring new and fresh ideas, however you can get them. And then you can certainly come to great conferences like this. But when you get to be in on the ground level of decision making of companies that are really doing very cool things that you know, aren't in conflict or competition, or you know, certainly you have to make sure you're in the right boards, but one of the boards I'm on is a company called ringcentral. And I joined it very early in the process. And you know, we have watched that company go from sort of startup to grown up to the leader and UCAS and the top in the Magic Quadrant, to watch that happen. And to watch the change and the pace of change and the speed of change, and how they had to adjust, you know, really helped me bring that back to the NFL NFL and say, Look, guys, we have to be a lot faster because, you know, we can't, you know, just wait for everything to be perfect. We've got to take some some risk. And that's one of the things I've learned is you know, taking measured risk. And having a chance to to serve on boards in the Silicon Valley where there's been a big push to add female directors has been great to because, you know, back to the advocacy thing I got my first board seat from a guy from Khosla Ventures, who gave up his board seat so that a female could join the board. That's how committed he was. It was like they wanted to, they found me and then there wasn't a spot. Like you know, no one wants to roll off these successful board so you kind of have to wait for someone to retire. And he was like, Look, I already serve on I'm gonna roll off this board to. So yeah, the board service has taught me a little bit about you know, all of those things as well as how to manage and you know, sort of champion diversity and inclusion as well.

 
Taylor Bloom 

And that's a great example going back to our diversity topic of having a very generous male figure as an ally, to put you in a position to be on that board. Yeah. I love that. That's, that's, that's very exciting. So we're obviously at CES 2020. With sounds, it just sounds so futuristic. The panel I just did before this, I kind of concluded by asking him, Where will we be in 2025. So I want to go into that a little bit with you, obviously, these panels about the NFL digital frontier, how you're approaching the next hundred years of the league. I would love to get as forward thinking as we can get with you. And our in our last few minutes here of if we were to be here, you know, five years from now just sitting next to each other what would be your main focus is then and best accomplishments then that you've kind of accomplished since 2020. And so, obviously, 5g is big right now and that's you talked about how it's going to change a lot of things around the league. What are you really focused on over the next five years, which would be your 13 years Your role in the CIO if you're still there, yeah,

 
Michelle McKenna 

let's hope I am.

 
Michelle McKenna 

You know, again, back to what I said about the most important thing we have is the game and our product. So I hope that, you know, five years from now, I'm talking to you or someone about all the advancements we've made in understanding player health and safety and that it's changed not only how our game is played, but how other sports are played, and how we've had an impact across the whole of sports by investing in, you know, a deep level understanding of our players health and safety. I'd have to be able to say we have a whole new fan base of people that had never watched American football and never understood American football, that are now playing fantasy, who want the feed of anything and everything we can provide.

 
Michelle McKenna  

That our games are, you know,

 
Michelle McKenna 

strong and competitive as always, but we find new and advanced ways to make sure that the game stays as great as it is. But also put things in, you know that, you know, we have chips in the ball, we have chips in the players, we're not that far from chips in the field and you know, chips in the sticks. We have cameras in all the pylons we have. We have so many of the pieces and parts, I think five years from now, I'll be talking to you about how we integrated all those pieces and parts to even take the game, you know, to the next level.

 
Taylor Bloom 

Is there a point where there's potentially too much technology where it's just every kind of overdone? Is that possible?

 
Michelle McKenna 

It absolutely is possible. And I'll go back to what I said in the beginning which technology should never be done for technology's sake. And if it doesn't have a purpose that it meets, and it's, you know, it's overkill, then we should not do it. And we is that doesn't mean that we shouldn't r&d, because there could be a point in the future where this could mean a lot. So I'm always encouraging r&d. But yeah, I mean that many pieces and parts that that means there's that many other points of failure as well. And you can overcomplicate something that in its purest form, doesn't need complicating so the running out of the sticks to measure whether you have a first down or not, do we really need to do that in the future, but maybe we will still will. You know, there are things where you don't just need to do it just because you can. You need to do it because you should and because it will make the experience better. It'll make our coaches and players the best they can be. And you know, as long as we keep coming back to those core values, then I don't think will overtech it.

 
Taylor Bloom 

And that goes back to your theme of like getting the technology, right.

 
Taylor Bloom 

Is that? How do you I want to get into like our last minute here, obviously NFL is a major business and as a bunch of devoted fans around the world to say the least, how do you ultimately show the ROI of these new tech initiatives, whether it's chips in the football 5g in the stadiums? I mean, there has to be some accountability, obviously, for your role. So that's going back to our main theme of innovation versus tradition. And it was a great business. How do you incorporate innovation without upsetting the people that profit from the business?

 
Michelle McKenna 

Yeah, you know, I think anyone would say growing a customer base or a fan base is a good thing. And technology can help you acquire new fans that you never would have acquired or You would have acquired them at a much higher cost. So I think any investment in fan acquisition and fan growth really shows we have our digital team and our insights and data scientists, they have modeled the customer lifetime value or the fan lifetime value. And there's a real ROI on investing in fans and growing fans and making sure that's on the right trajectory. So those those are very easy one to one, you can totally prove it. It gets a little harder when it comes to the game because that's about preserving the legacy of the competition. And it might not have a direct ROI. But what it does have is the longer our our star players can be on the field, not injured, playing, drives, ratings, ratings, drive, network contracts with drives huge amounts of revenue, right? And the new ways that we distribute content now, instead of just distributing, you know, long form, you know, live games, the ways you can distribute now in smaller segments is a whole new monetization model around taking your digital content library and making it in a way that you could easily make it accessible to people who want snippets of NFL content, and pay us for it and, and track where that ends up and track the ROI on that and you know, marketing technology, and also just ad tech these days, you can really track where your content ends up and how you monetize it. So I think all of those come into play anytime we want to do a really big investment and you know, without it, you know, it's a question about you know, should we? So, that's a little bit about you know how that works.

 
Taylor Bloom 

Right? Well, Michelle, thank you so much for the time on stage. Thank you everyone for attending. I hope you learned a lot from Michelle. Michelle McKenna. Thank you

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