Editor’s Note: You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t written for the blog much lately. I have taken on the CMO role at my company, KORE Software, which involves an increased focus on creating content for the company blog, podcast and more (you may want to check out the KORE blog here). This is a piece I published yesterday on that site, but I felt that it could be useful and interesting to my readers here as well. Enjoy!
Last week I had the chance to be in Nashville attending the SponsorshipX conference leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft. On the Thursday afternoon during our lunch break, I took a walk around the NFL Fan Experience area just outside Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans.
I couldn’t help but notice all of the league partner activations going on, and in particular, how many of them included key strategic components from data collection and social integration to product education and rewards. This is an area of the business my company is particularly passionate about based on our KORE KONNECT activation platform for brands and rights holders.
I took several pictures that you can see below and shared some of my thoughts on how each activation effort aligns to the brand’s partnership goals. Enjoy!
The Pizza Hut tent encouraged fan to hop on stage and dance with JuJu Smith-Schuster via an AR experience. Everyone that did this had a chance to opt-in afterwards to get a copy of their dance video, so we already have digital data collection. They were also encouraged to share via a branded hashtag to distribute this content to a wider audience, which will also be measurable via that hashtag. And of course, they all got a free slice of pizza!
Visa had a very large activation space that was focused on educating fans about their tap-to-pay technology in their newer credit card products. I talked to one of their on-site staff who mentioned this is a key initiative as most consumers will receive a card with this feature soon, and it creates a more secure experience.
They tie this education together with fun examples, such as “tap to turn on the jukebox,” and incentives, such as tap to win a prize or $5 to participate in a tap to pay demo. Finally, they use the activation in partnership with Chase to reward Chase Visa customers, reinforcing the value to NFL fans of being a Visa card holder.
Similar to the Pizza Hut example, Bridgestone created a fun way for fans to be interactive with the brand, first with a football toss through Bridgestone tires to win a prize, and then the longer line which allowed fans to catch a pass while diving into a Bridgestone foam pit. It was that 2nd option that their staff captured via video for each fan that, with opt-in, could be shared with them and in turn shared to social media.
Verizon kept it simple with a few branded Verizon “trucks” and staff on-site to engage with fans one-on-one. Staff could sign up fans on the spot for Verizon services and answer questions from existing and potential customers.
Snickers powered the “Network Desk” experience where fans could be on-stage and at the broadcast desk for NFL Total Access presented by Snickers. Staff would take a photo/video of your time at the desk, and with opt-in be able to share that content back to the fans.
The NFL itself put a lot of energy into mobile-based data collection via a dedicated app that encouraged fans to check-in at various stations throughout the Fan Experience. The app was required for fans to play the various NFL branded draft/combine style activities, such as the Vertical Jump and 40 Yard Dash. Fans also had the chance to win prizes by scanning the QR code at various locations throughout the Fan Experience. This platform represents a tremendous data collection opportunity for the league.
Here are a few more photos of other brands and fan engagement opportunities I saw during the event. I hope all of the examples above and below give you some good ideas on how to think about your experiential assets in a strategic and data-driven manner!
I recently had the chance to sit down with James Giglio, CEO of MVP Interactive, to talk about his background in the sports industry, how technology like VR and AR will continue to impact the fan experience both at home and in arena, as well as a recent project he worked on with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center.
James, first off, tell us a bit about how you got into the sports industry?
Six years ago, I was working as a director at an advertising agency handling the installation of ad campaigns for vacant storefronts. I started noticing a broader trend of brands infusing technology into campaigns to increase engagement but didn’t think there were any real conduits to showcase this vision. One night while out to dinner, I couldn’t shake the idea from my mind so I began rough sketching an immersive kiosk and gaming wall that could be used to engage with sporting fans. Once I realized what this could become, I began outreach to all of the local teams around, and the Rays took my call. I pitched them the idea to what is now known as MVP Interactive. Although they didn’t initially sign on, the conversation gave me the confidence to start. From a dinner sketch in March of 2012 to becoming a Founder and CEO in May of that same year, we have since then worked with a plethora of major league sports teams ranging from the Minnesota Vikings to the New York Rangers.
You work a lot in AR and VR. What’s the difference between them, can you share an example of how each is used around fan engagement?
The difference between the two is that virtual (VR) reality gives unprecedented access to users as they are virtually in a new environment, compared to augmented reality (AR) which informs users by layering realities.
Do you see VR and AR are more critical for the in-venue or the at-home fan experience?
That is a good question and will be primarily dictated by the advancement of the actual technology. For example, VR is not yet at consumer scale in which most households can not experience a 360 viewing experience so an engagement like that has been primarily a feature for the in-venue game day experience. However, AR is inherently more mobile so users devices and television content providers will be able to transmit some level of AR over the air.
Has any of the buzz about VR worn off? Is it still resonating with fans?
By in large, the overall VR market has cooled to a degree for similar reasons as above. The technology and its costs have not reached a level for it to be an ubiquitous consumer product but in contrast, that is the exact reason it’s still a novelty for fan to participate in an experience when it is available.
You recently worked on a Family Fun Zone project at Wells Fargo Center. How did that come together?
Well like most of our projects, the opportunity came through from our sales efforts and our reputation for creating immersive venue experiences. Timing is always an important factor for a project like this so thankfully, the Wells Fargo Center and Flyers were in the middle of a renovation project for the arena so adding these elements was a natural inclusion.
What feature of that experience has generated the most positive reaction so far?
That’s a tough one since we feel each creates its own unique and memorable experience for fans. However, I’ll have to say the virtual goalie game has continued to be very popular because it allows fans to participate in the very sport they are attending – virtually of course.
What is one piece of advice you’d give teams when it comes to in-venue fan engagement?
To continue to keep the focus on the fan. It’s really great to witness their reaction in participating in a really cool piece of technology that feels exclusive to the game day experience. With our experiences in particular, it also allows for continued amplification and dialogue after the game – which continues the memory.
Have you ever wondered how teams turn around all those incredible Instagram photos and other social media images so quickly? Well watch this video below for an inside look at the New York Jets photography process on gamedays and you’ll see how they can get those shots from “on the field” to “on your phone” in an instant.
Rael Enteen, the Jets Director of Digital and Social Media, explained:
If we don’t turn content around quickly, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot as far as volume. The more volume we can put out, the more eyeballs we’re bringing to our account and the more followers we gain. And that’s what makes this whole operation run.
Chelsea Football Club Foundation Announces New Program with EVERFI to Bring STEM Education to Students in Harlem
Official Release: Earlier this week, the Chelsea Football Club Foundation, and education technology innovator EVERFI, Inc. officially launched the Digital Blue – Career Inspiration program bringing hands-on STEM teaching to 25 schools in Manhattan at no cost to the schools, inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals.
The Chelsea Football Club Foundation and EVERFI announced the new project during a visit with students at Frederick Douglass Academy where they joined students and educators to discuss STEM careers.
“Using the power of sport we believe we are uniquely positioned to assist people of all ages and we hope everyone who takes part goes home inspired by what they have learned about science, technology, engineering and math,” said Simon Taylor, Head of the Chelsea Foundation. “We are delighted to be expanding our work in Harlem and New York with this exciting STEM-focused project.
Digital Blue- Career Inspiration, the interactive STEM education program powered by EVERFI and supported by The Chelsea Football Club Foundation, introduces middle & high school students to exciting careers in technical fields and uses gamified lessons to encourage and prepare students for a career in STEM. As part of the course experience, students will virtually hear from Chelsea FC and Chelsea FC Women players, Chelsea FC Foundation executives who’ll talk about the importance of STEM education and how these topics are part of key careers in the industry.
“It’s critical that we equip young people with the science, technology, engineering and math skills needed to inspire educational pathways to careers in these growing fields,” said Brian Cooley, EVERFI’s President of Sports and Entertainment. “We’re incredibly excited to work together with the Chelsea Football Club Foundation to bring this resource to students in Harlem.”
The Chelsea FC Foundation’s Digital Blue – Career Inspiration program offers students the opportunity to enjoy interactive content designed to reinforce key STEM skills while exploring exciting STEM careers that await.
During the visit, coaches from the Chelsea Foundation’s international department visited a class of Digital Blue Scholars to get a first-hand experience with the course. Following their time in the classroom, the coaches hosted a soccer skills lesson, teaching the students how STEM is relevant on the field, as well.
Eighty percent of the nation’s fastest-growing careers require skills from one or more STEM fields. The digital program is designed to spark curiosity in STEM and introduce middle school students to a wide variety of exciting STEM career options. When navigating the course, students reflect on activities they enjoy and receive feedback on how those interests can translate into STEM careers that power innovation.
Editor’s Note: We need more and more of this from sports teams, leagues and college athletics. Sports and STEM have such a natural alignment that’s multiplied exponentially with the rapid evolution of how data, biometrics and technology is changing the industry landscape. Students often have such affinity towards sports that it should be a tremendous platform to channel that affinity into STEM education.
Official Release: A little over a month after the #inviteHER campaign was launched, the initiative today becomes more than a concept but a call-to-action with help from celebrities and social media influencers across the golf and lifestyle spaces calling on their fans and followers to take part. This #inviteHER Day asks golf enthusiasts to use social media to extend an invitation to the women in their lives to join them for a golf experience, whether it be on the course, driving range or Topgolf facility.
Among those taking part in the day are golf influencer Ashley Mayo (Twitter: @AshleyKMayo), golf-shot trick artist Tania Tare (Instagram: @taniatare63) and entertainment influencer Alicia Quarles (Instagram: @alicialquarles).
“We’re thrilled to see of people from all walks of life advocating for the mission of #inviteHER,” said Ashleigh McLaughlin, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy for the LPGA Women’s Network. “An invitation is a simple yet powerful way to encourage someone to try something new and with the help of influencers sharing this message we know more women will be inspired to take part in golf.”
To follow along with the first #inviteHER day, visit the #inviteHER social hub and join the conversation using the hashtag #inviteHER and tag @wearegolf (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), @LPGAWomen (Twitter) and @LPGAWomensNetwork (Facebook, Instagram).
In August the U.S. golf industry – driven by WE ARE GOLF, a coalition of leading organizations working together to communicate the game’s economic, charitable, environmental and fitness benefits – launched the #inviteHER campaign, which encouraged current golfers to extend an invitation to the women in their lives to start playing the game.
Powered by the LPGA Women’s Network and WE ARE GOLF’s Women’s Task Force, golfers – men and women alike – are urged to bring friends, colleagues and family to join them on the course through online resources and social media assets. The #inviteHER movement seeks to create an enjoyable, welcoming experience for those interested in trying the game or picking it back up – whether through a group lesson, complimentary clinic, driving range session or on-course experience.
#inviteHER’s primary objective is to grow awareness and participation among women and girls through the power of an invitation from one of the 24 million American golfers. The game should more closely mirror U.S. demographics as only 24 percent of the current golf population is female.
Want to get involved? #inviteHER encourages all golfers to support the movement by posting on social media about how they plan to encourage women to take up the game.
Editor’s Note: I think a social-driven campaign like this to encourage more female participation in golf or any sport really is a good idea. This seems like a great program for the LPGA to be a part of in efforts to grow their audience. Hopefully the weather this weekend is nice and we see a lot of extra activity on the links!
Today’s post is courtesy of guest writer Sal Siino.
It is undisputed that traditional television is entrenched in a battle against persistent ratings declines, rising rights fees, changing consumer habits and the rise of deeper-pocketed, technology-first competitors. As television executives map out their next moves, it is paramount that the retention of live sports rights comprise the bedrock for their evolving strategies.
With its large audiences and attractive demographics, live sports rights have long been the foundation of broadcast network programming. In fact, the Fox broadcast network was launched on the back of its then-perceived overpayment for NFL live game rights – which served as the immensely successful lead-in programming for The Simpsons and Married With Children. In addition to propping up the ratings for subsequent programs, sports historically accounts for a disproportionate level of ad revenues – Kantar Media estimates that nearly 40% of broadcast television revenue in 2015 was tied to sports programming (1).
Historically, television broadcasters and sports right owners had a reciprocal relationship. While the sports rights owners provided content rights to drive massive audiences, the broadcast networks provided unrivaled distribution and monetization options. With limited channels and shelf space to broadcast live games, sports rights owners needed the broadcasters for exposure to build their fan bases and extend their other lines of business. Gone are the days when a fan could choose from a handful of games to watch on any given Saturday. Today, digital and cable television now offer hundreds of channels all pining for differentiating programming. This past Saturday alone, more than 50 college football games competed for eyeballs across the television, OTT platforms and websites in the U.S. Many of the sports leagues and federations now believe that their fan following is built on solid ground and readily transferable with palatable impact from a higher channel dial position or distribution via OTT.
Although broadcast sports rights fees have been escalating for decades, the last ten years have ushered escalation rates previously unseen in the industry. This surge in sports fees is largely attributable to increased competition, changing consumer habits and faster ratings erosion for non-sports programming.
This increased competition comes from multiple sources. Most noticeably, the behemoth tech companies with the deepest of pockets (eg, Facebook, Amazon & YouTube) have entered the bidding arena for sports rights – and those entities are not necessarily looking for a positive ROI in the near future as they leverage sports content to build out their businesses. In addition, the trend towards traditional media consolidation (eg, AT&T-Time Warner merger & pending Disney – 21st Century Fox acquisition) further creates deeper pocketed bidders looking for greater scale in revenue and programming. Also in the mix are recently launched dedicated sports-oriented OTT platforms (eg, DAZN) capitalizing on the increasing consumer willingness to seek out and pay to watch their favorite teams. A final leg of increased competition comes from the sports rights owners themselves – with the rise of big data, rights owners are retaining more games for their owned and operated offerings (eg., NFL Network, MLB.TV) so they can control the available consumer and data insights.
The increased bidding competition is just a piece of this changing puzzle. It is well established that younger audiences have vastly different viewing habits, including unprecedented mobile viewing, cord cutting, time shifting, and simultaneous social media engagement.
Alongside sports programming, local news broadcasts historically comprised a big part of the identity of television channels. Today, however, adults are relying less on television for news, and younger people turning to digital outlets as their primary news source. Likewise, scripted network television is most susceptible to further disruption. The dominant OTT platforms have already inflicted potentially irreparable pain in the traditional television distribution model. The results of the 2018 EMMY Awards exemplify this changing of the guard as Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was the biggest program winner and Netflix tied HBO with the most awards. While the OTTs have achieved tremendous success with scripted programming, Amazon, Facebook and YouTube are still in experimentation mode with live sports programming and have yet to achieve traditional television-like audiences for a live sporting event.
In 2017, 62 of the highest-rated 100 telecasts were sports events – and many of the others were live telecasts of awards shows and political events (2). With only a limited number of audience-driving live awards shows and the often non-exclusive/commercial nature of major political events, regular DVR-proof, live programming is essentially limited to sporting events. Accordingly, sports is the last category of exclusively available, must-see television content. Without live sports, the traditional television model will succumb completely to the competition.
All of these adverse trends fuel the following disturbing statistics for traditional television networks:
82% of traditional pay television subscribers would scale back their subscription if they no longer needed sports (3)
27% of people have cable subscriptions because of sports (4)
91% of fans subscribe to pay television for access to live games (3)
63% of all sports fans are interested in paying for an OTT service (5)
As a result of all of the consumer demand tied to sports programming, traditional television networks risk complete disruption and cratering their businesses should they fail to put forward winning bids to retain marquee live sports rights. Even if these increased bids result in near-term, negative double-digit ROIs, survival of the traditional television players relies on the retention of live sports.
In order to execute this increasingly expensive strategy, the traditional television networks must continue pushing for more efficient ways to bundle advertising inventory and develop more a la carte pricing options for select tiers of live sporting events. In addition, these traditional players must better lever their exclusive windows for sports rights and create more short-from and shoulder sports programming to feed the increasing demand for this content. Finally, the traditional TV networks must embrace the rise of e-sports and make early, long-term bets on these younger-skewing live event rights before some of these rights potentially undergo significant appreciation in value.
Sal Siino is the former Senior VP of Global Content Distribution and Business Development at WWE; Co-Founder, President and Chief Operating Officer of WeMash; and former EVP, Partnerships & Chief Revenue Officer of Bedrocket Media Ventures, where he partnered with established brands including Univision, PGA Tour and MLS, to develop pioneering online destinations and branded YouTube channels to reach audiences on all screens.
Sports Business Week (aka #SBWeek18) is back for 2018, with networking events taking place around the world from October 15th to the 30th (we had to expand the definition of “week” in order to make sure we can host events in as many cities as possible). This is a great opportunity to come out and network with other sports business professionals that work or live in your area. All backgrounds are welcome, from those just starting out to industry veterans.
The format of the evening is very casual, featuring 2-3 hours of open networking over drinks with your industry peers. All of our events will be listed below as the details get finalized.
Tickets for most events are $5 in advance or $10 at the door with proceeds being donated to The V Foundation for Cancer Research. As a reminder, we do NOT make any money from these events. The goal is the same as it has always been – to help fellow members of the sports business community connect with one another while supporting a great cause.
The list of cities is still a work in progress, so scroll down to see if your city is ready to go. We’re always on the lookout for new hosts, so if you want to help, please let us know!
Atlanta, GA – Details TBD
Boston, MA – Wednesday, October 24 at 5:30PM at Sports Innovation Lab (WeWork, 200 Portland Street, 3rd Fl)
Charlotte, NC – Details TBD
Chicago, IL – Monday, September 11 at 5:00PM at Theory Bar
Cleveland, OH – Details TBD
Dallas, TX – Details TBD
Denver, CO – Details TBD
Detroit, MI – Details TBD
India – Multiple Cities – Details TBD
Indianapolis, IN – Details TBD
Kansas City, MO – Details TBD
Los Angeles, CA – Details TBD
Melbourne, Australia – Details TBD
Miami, FL – Details TBD
New York, NY – Wednesday, October 24 at 6:30PM at The Liberty NYC
Oklahoma City, OK – Details TBD
Philadelphia, PA – Tuesday, October 23 at 6:00PM at Xfinity Live
Phoenix, AZ – Details TBD
Salt Lake City, UT – Wednesday, October 24 at 6:00PM at Fiddler’s Elbow
San Diego, CA – Thursday, October 25 at 6:00PM at Grizzly (3861 Front St)
Time for another edition of Infographic Friday, and this week we have a very timely one about the World Cup, courtesy of Statista.
Where the World Cup Threatens Productivity the Most
This infographic shows what nations will likely be most and least impacted in terms of business productivity by this year’s World Cup, based on what nations are participating, what countries follow soccer/football the most and what time zones the games are in.