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Innovation and networking to the fore as SPORTEL returns to Monaco

SPORTEL CEO Laurent Puons outlines how the event, synonymous with the growth of the sports media sector, is ready to bring the industry together once again on its return to Monaco after a pandemic-enforced hiatus.

SPORTEL is welcoming back delegates to its first face-to-face event in more than a year-and-a-half with an agenda underpinned by emerging innovations and long-awaited networking opportunities at Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum from October 5-7.

Laurent Puons, CEO, Monaco Mediax

The familiar setting will bring together decision-makers who are ready to explore the latest trends and strategies that are driving the recovery of the industry.

Most importantly, the opportunity to connect in person once again will be an enticing prospect for sports media executives who are set to gather in the Principality from across the globe.

“We are still in the process of recovery, but the quality of participation is guaranteed,” says Laurent Puons, CEO of Monaco Mediax, which organises SPORTEL.

“We are now back with our 100% in-person event and we will continue to develop emerging sectors such as esports, live sports betting and immersive technologies, to offer new cross-over opportunities to our clients. The trend towards the development and adoption of new technology is ongoing, and is still well represented throughout the market.”

Global appeal

Inevitably, with ongoing travel restrictions across many parts of the globe, this year’s gathering in Monaco will have more of a European feel.

However, a quarter of registered participants will arrive from outside the European Union, and some of the industry’s biggest brands from the Americas have also confirmed their attendance.

A broad variety of the sector’s stakeholders will be present, including broadcast networks, rights-holders, sports federations, leagues, distributors, OTT platforms and sports technology providers, with more than one-third being content-buyers.

Perhaps most significantly, more than 50 companies will attend SPORTEL for the very first time.

The essence of SPORTEL will be familiar to delegates, with numerous networking lounges providing opportunities to forge fruitful new partnerships.

“SPORTEL will not change significantly,” Puons adds. “This is why we decided to keep it 100% live with many networking lounges.

“Naturally, we have had to adapt to the pandemic, especially with extensive sanitary measures in place. Thanks to the actions taken by the Monegasque Government and the hosting venue, the entire SPORTEL team is working every day towards organising the event with the best possible safety measures in place.”

New features

One of the new features at the event will be ‘Speakers Corner’ – an open space at the heart of the Ravel Exhibition Floor, which will include a combination of innovative presentations, expert panels and engaging masterclasses.

“This conference set up is highly visible, with easy access for attendees to pop in and catch a session in between their busy meeting schedules,” Puons adds. “The goal of the SPORTEL masterclasses is to provide key insights and thought-provoking discussions between influential industry executives for our community to evaluate and help them make informed decisions when evolving their business strategies.”

Puons highlights esports – which will come under the spotlight at SPORTEL Monaco – as an example of a parallel ecosystem that has developed at the event over recent years.

“We will be highlighting how the crossovers if done well, are opening up new opportunities for partnerships, audiences and data usage, as the lines blur between tradition and innovation,” he adds.

“We will also address how digital media and OTT continue to transform the broadcast industry, and debate whether the bubble has burst on media-rights strategies in light of the pandemic.

“Plus, new for this year, we will be looking at how female leaders and audiences are shifting the perception of sport media. It will be an exceptional programme that will be very popular with attendees.”

Speakers Corner

Conference presentations at Speakers Corner will provide a platform at the event for exhibitors or delegates to shine the spotlight on their cutting-edge products and solutions.

“They provide a great way to illustrate their innovative services and offer key insights and take-aways for the audience,” Puons adds.

The impact of the pandemic will also provide a consistent backdrop to discussions, with executives ready to reflect on the strategies that have helped to steer their companies through a tumultuous time and towards a brighter future.

“The pandemic has been bad for everyone and has impacted all parts of the industry,” Puons said. “The essential topics that will be raised at SPORTEL are how they overcame these challenges and which strategies were adopted.

“For example, esports had a decisive advantage, unlike other segments of the sports and entertainment industry, as they were able to continue their operations. They just had to change certain habits and make sure that the players still had a chance to play and the fans had something to watch – and it is what they did by shifting to online-only formats.
“It is the same logic for the fast-tracking of immersive technologies that were offering an array of creative near ‘live’ and engaging experiences, such as state-of-the-art crowd noise and virtual fans in stadiums engaging in real-time experiences during games.”

Changing landscape

Another key issue that is set to be a major topic at SPORTEL is how the pandemic has changed the negotiating landscape for rights deals between the media companies and content owners, who are packaging up and distributing their offering across a wider range of media partners.

A broader pivot to digital platforms is another subject that is certain to be discussed.

This year, SPORTEL was among the industry organisations to enhance their digital offerings, launching SPORTEL+ eTALKS, a series of free-to-attend webinars.

“SPORTEL Monaco is primarily a convention and marketplace, which our clients have told us works best for them as a face-to-face and physical format,” Puons adds.

“During the hiatus we took the opportunity to introduce the SPORTEL+ eTALKS and this successfully enabled us not only to keep connected with the community, but also to welcome newcomers to discover the SPORTEL brand. It’s a product we can use to support SPORTEL’s messaging as a complement to our live events.

“When we took the decision to organise a 100% live event, we obviously had to adapt our pricing and cancellation policy in order to reassure and secure our participants. Therefore, for the first time in SPORTEL’s history, there was a very early bird price in place when registrations opened. Later, we continued to offer attractive rates with a very flexible COVID-19 refund & substitution policy.”

With so many of the sports media sector’s constituents ready to return to Monaco after such a long wait, it is clear that for the industry’s most influential decision-makers, there is nothing quite like meeting in person.

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