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Laura Froelich | Senior director, head of US content partnerships, Twitter

Laura Froelich, head of US content partnerships, Twitter. (Photo, Melina Pardo).

Laura Froelich was among the 10 executives whose work in 2018 we believe indicates the direction of the sports business in 2019 and beyond.

While speculation continues to grow about how the eventual, long-awaited arrival proper of the so-called ‘FAANGs’ (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) will affect sports broadcasting, Twitter continued to redefine the sector in its own, relatively quiet way in 2018. Laura Froelich, its head of US content partnerships, has led this push.

The company’s deal with the NBA to show alternate camera views in the second halves of games, focused on one specific player, demonstrates precisely the strength of Twitter’s partnership strategy under Froelich, and her understanding of the social media platform’s place in the sports broadcasting ecosystem.

Rather than trying to compete directly with its bigger, more monied rivals, Twitter has played into its status as a ‘second screen’ platform, something fans engage with alongside the main event, not in place of it. As Froelich herself admitted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, “Twitter conversation has always been a complement to live action on TV.”

The NBA deal takes that philosophy and runs with it, offering a tantalising hint of where Twitter might move in the near future.

With Verizon shelling out several billion dollars for the streaming rights to NFL games over the next few years, leaning further into that space feels like a wise strategy for Twitter to pursue, staying out of the costly fight for full-game rights but still capturing a significant proportion of the audience with innovative smaller deals.

Similarly, the long-term partnerships it has fostered within sport – with broadcasters such as Fox Sports, to produce a magazine programme from this year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup, for instance, as well as with rights-holders like the PGA Tour – demonstrate Froelich’s desire to cement Twitter’s place in the sporting conversation without sinking billions of dollars into rights deals.

Froelich was a panellist at the first ever SportBusiness Summit held in Miami last year. Watch her talk about Twitter’s second-screen content partnerships in the video from the Summit below.

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Our other nine trailblazing executives are:

Adam Silver | Commissioner, NBA

Alfredo Bermejo | Digital strategy director, LaLiga

Barney Francis | Managing director, Sky Sports

Darren Eales | President, Atlanta United

David Szlezak | Managing director, EHF Marketing

Joanna Adams | Chief executive, England Netball

Kerry Bubolz | President, Vegas Golden Knights

Sean Jefferson | Director of partnerships, Man United

Simon Denyer | Chief executive, DAZN Group