We don’t know how much Johnny Manziel is going to affect the Browns product on the field, but we can say that Johnny Football’s first start is impacting ticketing and media coverage. Get-in-the-game ticket prices rose 70 percent, and the average ticket price rose from $123.73 to $181.5. The Bengals-Browns matchup on Fox will be the nationally televised game from western Pennsylvania to southern California. This has to be the first time in a long while that the Browns are the nationally televised game on a Sunday. Brian Hoyer just isn’t a big ratings draw compared to Johnny Manziel.
Manziel is the most hyped quarterback since Tim Tebow. People either want to see him succeed or fail, no in-between. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the former Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner. That means Fox and the Browns are big winners for at least this week.
Manziel has already signed multiple endorsements, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Johnny JamBoogie Snickers commercial Sunday.
It will be interesting to see if other companies activate around Manziel’s start. Most of it will probably be local in Cleveland, but if a company such as Nike has any marketing plans or advertisements ready, this would be the week to use it. ESPN will increase coverage and social media will be commenting on every move Manziel makes.
This is not a make or break for Manziel, but a win will only increase the hype. And if Johnny Football can lead the Browns to the playoffs, we could be seeing something similar to Tebow-mania.
Michael Colangelo is Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute and Senior Editor of The Fields of Green.