The BBC’s Saturday night football show started in 1964 and still sets the weekly agenda for the sport that dominates the UK and the League that enthralls the world.
So it is incredible to think that it took until 2007 to hear the voice of a female commentator.
In this podcast, Jacqui Oatley MBE talks to me about the attention she received on the back of that appearance. We also discussed the state of play for women sports broadcasters and journalists in the UK. What is changing, what is not and, as usual, how social media has changed the landscape.
As you’ll hear, everyone, including me, has a lot to learn.
2:30 Looking back on the publicity when she became the first female commentator on Match of the Day
“I didn’t want to be a celebrity, I did not want to be a token. I did not want to be different from any of the men”
6:52 Being a role model for aspiring women reporters
8:18 Her advice to young female sports reporters
10:45 The effect of social media to sports reporters, especially female ones
Jacqui Oatley: women's football is generations away from equality, but it's getting there - YouTube
14:30 Taking on the ‘trolls’ - how, when and why
18:10 How social media has exposed more sexism
21:31 The effect of motherhood on her career
25:45 The pressure to change yourself
28:45 Why cricket appears more accepting to women broadcasters
33.35 The recent appointment of the first female chair of the Football Writers’ Association
35:20 The Women in Football movement
Jacqui Oatley on Women's Football and Women in Football - YouTube
39:25 Subtle sexism v overt sexism in the workplace - which is worse
41:30 The problem of women not having the confidence to apply
PS. Apologies to all, especially Jacqui, for the error in research I made in this podcast. I have an excuse but it is exactly that, an excuse and not a reason. That is not good enough. I left it in as lesson to myself to improve in this area. In the future, I will look to get an interview with a representative of Women in Football to expand my knowledge. It is too close to do one back-to-back. However I will ask. Apologies again, Rich.
The emerging football leagues around the world might consider the J.League as a model.
Since starting in 1993, it has formed the foundation upon which Japanese club teams have become a force in the AFC Champions League and their national side regulars in the latter stages of major international tournaments. They even co-hosted the World Cup in 2002.
Now, the J.League is looking to expand overseas using digital as a driver.
Kei Koyama, from their international development department, spoke to me about the past, present and future, including the J.League furoshiki (translated as 'wrapping cloth'). This is a digital asset hub which allows them to create better content quickly and efficiently.
England's national sport has been under pressure for many years, with the four-day County Championship widely perceived as the domestic competition in the most precarious position.
However, there has been genuine hope in the blossoming audience for a relatively basic video streaming service synced with the traditional radio commentary.
Ben Warren, Somerset CCC
It is a League-Wide scheme developed by the England and Wales Cricket Board but Somerset CCC have been at the forefront. Digital marketing & communications executive Ben Warren runs the service for the club.
Like many county devotees, he is fiercely protective of a game that is overlooked but far from unloved.
With a controversial new franchise-based tournament starting next season and threatening to take attention from the longer-form game, the pressure is on.
But can digital media really help save county cricket?
1:48 Content strategy in a nutshell and how it has evolved
3:50 Live streams of the four-day games - the proposition and the surprising popularity
6:14 The quality of our video product "far away from a TV product"
9:37 500,000 views in 35 days last season and 100,000 for the first three days in a pre-season friendly
13:34 Whether the new digital product is a lifeline for county cricket?
16:01 Early thoughts on monetisation
18:31 "The product is not a level where we would expect a fee"
22:21 Would sponsorship be possible when your product is using BBC commentary teams
24:43 Tapping into the passion of the Indian subcontinent
27:01 Engagement patterns and utilising wifi at the ground
29:35 The different cadence of county cricket. The value in being 'quality background noise'
30:31 Fulfilling the expectations of the crowd for a live experience
31:32 The digital team at Somerset and covering away games
32:19 The in-play clips of boundaries, milestones and wickets. The popularity (around 10m view last year) and the system that creates them.
33:45 Has the new digital content really brought in new spectators
36:01 Don't put paid-for walls around a new product
37:10 What will be the effect of the Hundred?
41:24 Taking lessons from the franchise model in cricket and starting from scratch
44:43 "IPL is the perfect scenario for content"
46:20 The trick of getting fans engaged in new stories
47:50 Who creates great content in county cricket
49:34 Somerset's developments in the upcoming season
In terms of digital and social media, Major League Baseball is perhaps the most enigmatic sport in the world.
We are constantly told that America’s pastime is past its prime. It is an ‘aging sport’ that is struggling to hold on to the coat-tails of the major players, NBA and NFL whilst coming under increasing pressure from up-and-coming sports like soccer.
Click for Julian’s LinkedIn proflle
However, MLB Advanced Media and incarnations were at the very forefront of innovation long before other sports started to plough resources into digital and continue to be a leading light.
The Colorado Rockies are not the most fashionable team in baseball but they have built a reputation for quirky interaction and content with personality.
Julian Valentin leads the strategy at Coors Field. With the 2019 baseball season fast approaching we discussed the past, present and future for the Rockies and how the hell his team covers 162 regular seasons games!
3:00 The Rockies content strategy in a nutshell
3.50 The targeting and segmenting
5:00 Coping with that huge number of games
7:10 Turning a ‘chip on the shoulder’ into a positive
8:30 Creating content around that
9.40 Interacting with the fans and, when necessary, standing your ground
10.51 What tells them that fans want their attention
11.16 Buy-in from the top on reacting to fans
13:02 Creating continuity of voice
15:07 How they staff a game
17:07 The advantage of having a dual role – social media and player relations
19:40 The ideas that have worked… and the ones that have failed.
20:52 The KPIs they look to
22:31 Why “be interesting” is not enough as content strategy. It must be attached to a Rockies feel
24:02 The analytics tools he uses
25:10 The relationship between MLB and the clubs
26:25 The legacy of MLB Advanced Media and its digital/ social media innovation
28:44 MLB’s rules changes and the Facebook deal
31:34 Publications strategy, is it worth it?
33:45 The value of very long-form content
37:45 Why still images can be > video
39:45 The move towards monetisation
42: 34 Cultivating creativity
44:16 Does being an ex-pro athlete help his role?
46:37 The content emphasis placed on the home opener
48:12 His favourite MLB content teams
50:01 Looking outside of sport for inspiration
52:13 The difference in tone and voice for college teams vs the pro teams
53.03 Where to take sports digital and sports content
The Sunday Times described Alex Fynn as the ‘Spiritual Godfather of the Premier League’. He is uncomfortable with the label but, in many ways, it is an apt description. The marketer and author also had an influence on the inception of the Champions League and he is critical how both conceptions have developed.
Increasingly, football clubs come in groups. The nature of ownership has changed much since the patronage of British industrialists started ‘works teams’ at their factories. In fact, the only real remnants are some of the nicknames.
These days, wealthy owners have multiple teams in different leagues on different continents. Sometimes there is an obvious vision, sometimes not.
US-based soccer investor Jordan Gardner is taking a different approach. He has already taken stakes in clubs in the UK and Ireland but his next venture will be different. He is leading a consortium that hopes to take over a top-flight Danish club and change their business model. A major part of that is developing talented players from the overseas, primarily the fertile development area of the US, then selling them on to major clubs.
It is a twist on an established approach and the among the first to link the North American game and Europe in such a direct way.
How he got started
The logic behind his approach
“You can't run a sports club, just like a business. But you shouldn't run it just like a passion project where there is no sound business acumen to it.”
His experiences at Dundalk and Swansea. Assessing the change in the business model after relegation
If you have chosen a league, how do you choose a club?
Selling the vision to the community and supporters
Is Europe a real pull given the insular nature of the other main US sports?
The MLS system v the European system for youth development
The emphasis on getting the environment right
The advantage of not having to sell to Barcelona at the moment
Moving beyond Moneyball
The comparisons with Man City’s global approach
“We're looking at players that are very young, coming in on mostly free transfers a. and a small enough scale where we can kind of get players, I don't want to say that are under the radar, but a different profiles player than, let's say, a large European club is looking at.”
Why the UK is not the most attractive league for this idea
Why “clubs don’t really try to achieve a sustainable model”
“I think the problem with the way so much of the revenue is skewed towards television, it does not incentivise the club's to innovate when it comes to other revenue streams”
The importance of communicating the philosophy
“A lot of clubs and owners aren't out there in terms of communicating exactly what the philosophy is, in terms of, ‘are we spending money? and ‘what are we spending money on?’