More than 200 senior sports marketing professionals from all over Europe gathered at TF1 in Paris last week for the second annual Sport & New Media conference by SportBusiness Group and sponsored by Eurosport.
Kicking off the first panel, Social Media Commerce, Bert Van der Auwera, Brand Manager, Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht, described how Anderlecht uses social media to engage with its fans:
“In Belgium, Anderlecht was the first club to embrace social media. For us, it’s about engaging with our fans, encouraging a community spirit round the club. At the start it was one way, but we have changed our approach and now it’s about conversation, about seeking reaction and opinion from our fans, involving them. That way we can launch new events and release details of new products matching their interests. We find this new approach helps us better reach commercial objectives.”
Ed Wooller, Head of Mindshare Sport, commented: “Social media engages fans, thereby moving them from armchair to active to avid fans, ultimately spending more money in the long run. One avid fan is worth 10 times the value of an armchair fan to sports rights holders and brands alike.”
Matteo Pastore, Director of Media Rights and relations, RCS Sport, agreed: “Social media is about engagement, about building your core fan base but also about bringing in new, younger audiences.”
The panel went on to discuss the best application of social media by a sports body globally, agreeing that the NBA sets the bar high with 120m followers on Twitter and Facebook alone. That said, it has not always been smooth sailing, as like everyone else, it has had to learn the scope and power of this tool ‘on the job’. The NBA has 250 of its major stars on Twitter, which makes control very difficult. This is a challenge that the UK will have to plan carefully for ahead of the London Olympics in 2012.
An interesting debate then got underway, as the rights holders and brands sparred over the level of control a brand can or should expect to have over a rights holders’ social media presence. With social media becoming a staple part of all sponsorship agreements, output through channels like Facebook and Twitter will become even more carefully monitored. Bert Van der Auwera argued that a rights holder that gives up control of social media is leaving itself open to major problems, as they are then relying on a brand – without intimate knowledge of the fans – to manage the relationship. Digital Marketing Manager at UEFA Events , Dejah Meldem, described UEFA’s policy for sponsors, saying that rights holders must instead carve out exclusive social media space for brands to activate their rights.
Next, Alexandre Callay, Director, Eurodata TV Worldwide, introduced some interesting points:
- The average person watches 3.45hrs of TV per day, +6min in the past 5 years
- Football is still king of sport on TV, reaching 241m per year people in China alone
- China is the fastest growing consumer of sports content in the world, with 34.5m viewers watching the French Open as China’s first female professional player, Li Na, won in 2011
- Local talent still provides a huge drawcard for audiences, as they engage in their attempts
- 2-screen viewing is growing, as media owners increasingly take audiences beyond the TV through digital add-ons like the live timing in Formula 1, deepening the viewer experience
- Stepping beyond that is direct digital/reality fusion, seen in only a few place so far – such as the gamer who this year won a place to drive in the winning Nissan team in the 24h Le Mans
A combative Ciaran Quinn, Director of Strategic Business development, Deltatre, kicked off panel two by challenging his fellow panellists and the audience on the topic ‘The One Screen Reality’
Andy Stout, editorial director at SVG Europe picked out the following comments from Quinn: “A 2% value was the figure which was plucked out of a feature in the conference program by panellist Ciaran Quinn from DeltaTre, suggesting that the entire VoD market in the UK was only worth £60m in 2010 compared to £3bn for TV. Elsewhere in the same feature (an excerpt from TV Sports Markets Volume 15 Number 10) Timo Lumme of the IOC suggested that less than 5% of the IOC’s rights fees came from online. So, 2% or 5%, you can take your pick, but it has to be pointed out that even 1% of the roughly $4.5bn that NBC spent on Olympic rights is a serious amount of money in itself.”
Quinn said: “TV will become a one screen hybrid for content consumption thanks to connected TVs. Over 8m of these sets have been sold in the UK and 15m worldwide, a device that didn’t exist until recently. Also, the threat of piracy is lower– it’s almost impossible to steal video and data together.”
Rhys Beer, Commercial Director, Perform commented: “Connected TV will simplify the viewing experience. The common view is that the many platforms available make for a confusing offer to audiences. Added to that, catch-up TV is growing all time in sport, especially with big events like Wimbledon happening during the working day and the Rugby World Cup 2011 in the opposite timezone. This allows for far more viewer interactivity and engagement in the viewing experience.”
Aidan Cooney, CEO of Opta: “Rights holders have divided to conquer and sold the rights to different media and inflated the prices accordingly. Too many people though are just streaming video and not utilising the platforms properly.” Opta has been adding metadata to sports footage since 2002 and now collects, packages and distributes data on around 60,000 fixtures per year from more than 30 sports in around 70 countries, so Cooney knows how to drive the new screens with interactivity.
Answering a question from the audience about the value of 3D TV vs HD TV, Quinn continued: “Infrastructure providers will need to do more to embrace 3D TV before it can begin to work.”
Beer agreed, commenting: “When Perform broadcast the England vs Ukraine World Cup qualifier 18 months ago infrastructure was our biggest concern. As we were breaking new ground with a game broadcast only on the internet, we had to work closely with major ISP providers to ensure quality.”
Moving on, Luke D’Arcy, former commercial director at Marussia Virgin Racing, now EMEA Growth Officer at Momentum, showed the audience how Virgin worked to bring the F1 world closer to fans through digital and social media. Having worked in Formula 1 myself for many years, I don’t underestimate what a challenge it would have been to introduce these new ideas. D’Arcy described how Virgin introduced its 100m customers globally to Formula 1 by bringing fun and interactivity to online communications. Richard Branson’s bet with rival team boss Tony Fernandez was amplified magnificently online globally. The pair, also owners of rival airlines, staged a bet that would see the losing team boss at the end of the year appear on the rival airline as a “Trolley Dolly.” Branson lost!
Frederic Saint-Sardos, Head of Digital and Brand Content, Havas Sport & Entertainment presented research results on the ‘Future Consumption of Sport’, with data from around 2,000 respondents:
- The research looked at TV, mobile, internet, press and radio in GER, ITA, SPA,UK and FRA
- The showed that TV remains king, when combining HD, 3D, On Demand and Internet TV
- The research also found sport is not passive, 7 out of 10 sports fans check results each day and 58% of respondents think their sports consumption will increase in the future
- The peak age group for sports consumption is 21-30 years old
- Around 5% of fans now have a 3D TV and over 50% say it’s now a buying consideration
Saint-Sardos was then joined on stage by Arnaud Maillard, Internet and New Media Director, Eurosport and Ed Wooller, Head of Sport at Mindshare to discuss the sports fans relationship with their mobile phones. The panel agreed that while TV remained the main platform, new technologies like tablets and smart phones were opening opportunities for interaction and monetisation. Much debate ensued, with a question from Robin Clarke, head of sport at SMG Sport sparking discussion around the role of mobile versus other platforms. It was agreed it remains a supplementary device.
Onto the final session of the day, John Phillips, Senior Vice President digital marketing ATP World Tour and Richard Johnson, Director of Corporate Communications, Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) both presented extremely well on the challenges and opportunities for rights holders in the new media world. Johnson, whose mantra is ‘baby steps’, walked us through the changes this fairly traditional organisation had to make in order to accept the type of access social media gave fans. Listen and learn was his advice to other rights holders. Phillips agreed, advising they “be fast and be friendly – tell short stories, make it easy for fans to follow and engage.”
To find out more about what was discussed, search #snm2011 on Twitter or visit www.sportandnewmedia.com
For a photo gallery of the event courtesy of Action Images please click here.
Rachel Froggatt, Director of Sport, Braben
Sport and New Media was organised by SportBusiness Group. Sponsored and hosted by Eurosport and partnered by Havas Sports & Entertainment, Opta, Action Images, Braben and TV Sports Markets. It will return in Spring 2012.