Mark Quenzel '82, an executive at the NFL Network and Emerson Alumni Association Board member, pictured with Donald Hurwitz, interim chair of the Marketing Communication Department, receives a plaque as recognition of giving the Irma Mann Distinguished Lecture on March 19 in the Bordy Theater. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)
National Football League Network executive and Emerson College Alumni Association Board member Mark Quenzel ’82 spoke to students in the Bordy Theater on March 19, discussing everything from the NFL’s monstrous success to its plaguing scandals.
Quenzel, who currently serves as the senior vice president of programming and production of the NFL Media Group, offered valuable advice to students looking to make it to the top. He was invited to campus to give this year’s Irma Mann Stearns Distinguished Lecture.
“The key to getting on top, and staying on top, is creating valuable partnerships,” he said.
Partnerships, particularly sponsorship partners with the NFL, are what Quenzel says makes the league so successful. He laid out the massive numbers associated with the NFL, including the 202.3 million unique viewers for NFL football games this past fall, the 114.4 million average viewers of the 49th Super Bowl this year, and the billions of dollars in transactions made with NFL partners. But, Quenzel says those numbers could potentially be in danger.
“Digital media is in danger of making television the next newspapers…You don’t have television sets anymore. You’re watching on mobile devices…That’s where the future consumer is,” he said.
Adaptation to the new digital landscape may be coming at a cost to the NFL, which relies on a limited number of games and creation of major spectacle events during those games to drive historic ratings. While Quenzel points out that social media provides an opportunity for the NFL, he also says it presents a difficult challenge.
“The big impact of digital media and social media is there are no more countries…you can reach a consumer anywhere in the world with social media. You can’t do that with standard television. We have to figure out how to deal with this.”
“The big impact of digital media and social media is there are no more countries… you can reach a consumer anywhere in the world with social media. You can't do that with standard television. We have to figure out how to deal with this.”
As the NFL fights a battle with digital media, it is also dealing with enormous controversy. The most memorable scandal within the league, and just one of multiple domestic violence scandals plaguing the NFL, includes Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was discovered to have punched his fiancé in the face before dragging her unconscious body. The NFL initially only suspended Rice for two games, and eventually changed its policy to deal more punishment in instances of domestic violence after significant backlash.
“We made a couple of big mistakes…As part of a brand, we made a decision based on what happened with Ray Rice and domestic violence…the socially responsible thing to do was discipline, but so is education…Either you’re about fixing a problem or punishing it. Punishing is part of it; fixing is all of it.”
Quenzel says that in addition to initiatives on childhood obesity and breast cancer awareness, the league is supporting “teaching young men how to deal in relationships” in order to combat domestic violence.
“Social responsibility is a big one. You have to give back. And, by the way, you should give back,” he said.
The man who is responsible for the Super Bowl halftime show also gave some simple, but very useful, advice to students regarding their future jobs.
“Don’t ever forget that someone’s paying you…if you don’t know the numbers, if you don’t know how your piece of the puzzle fits into the numbers…you are out of a job.”