OCTOBER 19th, 2017

Last week saw the annual Leaders in Sport Week take place across London. From 2nd – 6th October the who’s who of global sport, technology and entertainment descended on England’s capital for a series of knowledge-sharing, experiential, networking and social events that took place across the city. Here are our key takeouts from the week.

The week opened with the Broadcast Disruptors session at the BT Tower which delved into the latest technology being embraced – or not – by the sports broadcast industry. Our very own James Rushton was joined by Ralph Rivera CTO of Eurosport Digital and Phil Lynch, CEO of Media at Manchester United to discuss taking sports broadcasting to the next level. The panel extensively debated how OTT is becoming the new norm and James talked openly about some of the technical difficulties DAZN has faced and overcome.  Mind-sets might take a little longer to change according to Rivera: “The difficulty isn’t in the technology, the difficulty is in the mental model that storytellers are used to for linear broadcasts.”  Think global, act local was the mantra from Lynch with the admission that it requires a huge investment in the international resource.

Fan engagement and delivering the ultimate fan experience is playing an ever-increasing role in the world of sports. Sporting organisations and clubs alike are keener than ever before to deliver the best fan experiences, a theme that became evident in the session led by Dewayne Hankins, Chief Marketing Office of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. Hankins focused on the delivery of the Blazers’ fan-first social strategy, with the Portland side having been recognising of being at the forefront of innovative fan engagement. When it comes to social, Hankins puts it best: “if you’re not thinking about mobile first, then you’re not doing it right.” Delivering on a fan experience requires, being able to capture, understand, and respond to what fans desire in those experiences.

Kevin Brilliant, a behavioural scientist at the Chicago Bulls, mirrored the thoughts of Hankins and went on to explain how the Bulls engage fans in offers through his lens of behavioural economics. Hankins The big reveal piece of insight was about ‘endowed progress’. The theory here is that there is nothing more motivating than believing you’re progressing. Partner offers to the Bulls fan base perform far better when that fan base is made to feel like they’ve progressed to a point where they feel like they deserve the offer.

In a time when social media continues to develop new ways to engage fans on a daily basis, the Social Fanalytics session considered the question of whether ‘secondary fans’ are the next major target segment for football clubs and whether they can they be engaged via social media? Possibly and yes, in the view of AS Roma’s Head of Social and Digital Media Paul Rogers. The idea of reaching the wider football community not with the aim of trying to convert a Juventus fan into a Roma fan, but, for example, by creating content that might make Roma a Manchester United fan’s ‘favourite Italian team’ has kept Rogers and his team busy over the summer. Travel tips for tourists to Rome and Spotify playlists are just a couple of the content types the club has trialled, much of it laced with a touch of humour. Social ideas like this are playing a huge role in defining the modern day sports fan, and here at DAZN we take our social media very seriously, it’s a key tool in engaging with our fans and hearing what they want!

The digital landscape of 2017 can be a difficult one for a rights holder to navigate. Content is king, we’re constantly told and rights holders have to keep sponsors happy. David Cipullo, Infront Sports & Media’s Media & Marketing Competency Centre Director and the man tasked with activating Wanda’s top-tier sponsorships had some advice to rights holders, “You’re not the Vatican. Have fun with it. You don’t have to own everything – take some of the earned media, some of the user-generated stuff and put it on other platforms. You can afford to free yourself up.”

The top sporting leagues and organisations across the world are having to dedicate a lot of time to marketing their brand not only in their own country but across the world. The ‘Leagues going Global’ session was a perfect opportunity to hear from representatives of two of the most exciting and well-known leagues from across the world. Although they are massively recognised globally, they still face problems when it comes to achieving global status. It was interesting to learn from those at La Liga that the biggest challenge they face as an organisation is to be known globally for having more than two teams (Real Madrid & Barcelona) and more than two players (Ronaldo & Messi.) Often the rest of the league is constantly overlooked and it’s worth recognising that Spanish teams have been the most successful in the world in recent times, not only in the Champions League in which Barca and Madrid constantly feature but in the Europa League as well.
On the other side of the world, the Major League Baseball find it of imperative importance that their international development is distinctive and not just additional.

The week also presented an opportunity for DAZN, as well as the wider Perform Group, to celebrate. The Leaders Under 40 Awards, held at the stunning Natural History Museum, is an event we targeted being at around 6 months ago when we submitted an application for James in the ‘Entrepreneurship’ category. Whether it’s managing the world’s greatest athletes, marketing the world’s biggest brands, implementing new and innovative technologies, running a company with thousands of employees or driving eye-popping revenue; these talented individuals are moving the sports business industry forward. The Leaders Under 40 Awards were created for them – to uncover their work and celebrate their success. There is a vigorous Global Nomination process, with 585 global nominations from over 50 countries. The winners are then decided by 87 judges and result in 1 Class of 2017. We’re delighted to say that our CEO James Rushton was indeed named as one of the Class of 2017. It was fantastic to share the evening’s celebrations with Shaun Koiner from our media division who was on stage in the Digital category. Well done Shaun & James!