Paid channels on YouTube: ideal monetization of sports content -
In a blogpost YouTube let’s us know that direct payment for subscribing to YouTube channels is being rolled out now. Content owners/creators now have more (and most certainly: better) options to monetize their content. Not only advertisement, in content sponsoring/product placement, but also direct payment as a monhtly subscription.
It will be only a matter of time before pay per view will be added as an option as well. Sports organizations who are distributing tons of high quality content via YouTube now (see for example the MLB and IOC), have a solid new stream of income to pay for their expensive content.
How bright the future will be depends on one factor: are people willing to pay in the perceived free environment that YouTube is.
Hat tip to Francisco.
Creativity rules the sports world -
It is one of my favorite mantra’s: sports is not ruled by politics nor by (sheer) money, but by creativity. This (somewhat arbitrary) ESPN list of sports influencers supports this point.
Not Nike’s CEO, but Nike’s three best designers are on it. Not NFL or NBA but EA Sports is on the list. Not ESPN it self but the boss of Grantland (ESPN’s best blog) is one the few influencers.
Mark my words: creativity will be the new currency in sports.
“The following is a forward-looking list: eleven of the most influential people, businesses, entities and brands in sports. A list of the people in sports who not only are making epic moves but also are moving us. ”
How running became the new clubbing -
The second wave of running (90/00’s) has been attributed mostly to ladies picking up running. This is true and it brought a different attitude to the “sports” of running. It became a lifestyle sport, just like skateboarding or surfing. Music, experience and tight knit communities are key in the future or running events. The Guardian takes a leap from the given that sports and music have become inseperable:
“Running should be joyous, celebratory and a shared experience, rather than merely the pursuit of arbitrarily shifting personal goals.”
With that running will be more and more an urban sport, attaching it self to the natural habitat of the greatest number of runners.
TV's Death by Mandoline -
Great piece on how the internet-ization of TV is eating away all that was setting TV apart from the same internet: broad crowds, quality and content outside your own comforting bubble.
“The Internet is wonderful when it satisfies your interests, but worrisome when it allows you to filter out any and all dissent.”
Same could be said for radio and print of course.
Demytification is here, Nike needs to reinvent it's branding -
As I said before, demythification is here. The marketing mojo of (fabricated) stars seems to be at the end of its course. Nike needs to reinvent its branding strategy and stop pinning their brand on the name of the glorious few.
Nobody is perfect and in these times everything comes out. So start creating many “little” heroes instead of a few “big” heroes.
If the growing spectacularisation of media culture began to undermine belief in the spirit world, the widespread dissemination of video technology hastened its decline. — By Stuart Walton - Aeon - seeing and believing
More than 2.700 people gathered in Boston for the 7th annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. The number of attendees was up more than 25% from 2012 and only a handful of these people were from Europe. Too bad that this subject is still underdeveloped over here, but fear not: here is an extensive report of the two days full of sports, analytics, business, social media, society and science. “The most tribal thing in our current society is sports.”
Seven years ago a few “sports data nerds” decided to gather around to share experiences from the nascent field of sports analytics. The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was born (SSAC for short, hash tag #SSAC13). The foundation of the conference lies in the most statistic sport of them all, America’s favorite past time: baseball. The rise of 3D analytics has given this field an enormous boost: Will the ball pass the plate left or right, with or without curl and will it go to the left or the right in the field? The statistics can easily be compared to penalty notes of soccer goalkeepers, but then “on steroids”. After baseball most other sports followed, although the statistics are easier to use for sports with a lot of goals like basketball than sports with fewer goals like soccer.
Nowadays the analysis encompasses much more than the sports on the field. Who are the talents to be drafted (think Moneyball), how are injuries prevented or treated, how to make money in sports, how to keep your fans engaged? Statistics and analysis can be found in every aspect of sports.
The importance of sports
Michael Lewis, writer of the famous book Moneyball, asked Nate Silver the prodigy of statistics worriedly: “Why has your talent been wasted for such a long time in sports?” A subject that was recurring during the two days of the conference. Yet the triteness of sports was denied even harder most of the time. And by many of the big names of US sports. Paraag Marathe (COO of the San Francisco 49-ers) and one of my favorite speakers of the conference, put it like this: “When a father and a son go to the Super Bowl together, that forges memories for a life time, there’s nothing trite about that.” John Skipper, CEO of ESPN, could not be clearer: “The most tribal thing in our current society is sports.” Nothing in our current times brings people (especially men) together like sports.
That business of sports
Using sports analytics is a business decision. Even though sports can hardly be called a business. Skipper of ESPN again: “Sports is the largest American industry for which profit is not the measure of success.” And the owner of the Houston Rockets added to that: “Twenty years ago I had 5 people working front office and I made a million in a year. Nowadays I have a hundred people working front office and I still make a million in a year.” And his business might be considered a good sports business, because many teams write in red ink.
In the end analysis of the sports on the field, will be beneficial for the business off the field. More matches won, but more important better-scouted talent and fewer injuries all turn directly or indirectly into more revenues or less costs. They turn into better business.
Sports is no ordinary business. Or as Jonathan Kraft (owner of the New England Patriots) put it eloquently: “The ultimate metric for team (owners) or even leagues should be impact on the community.” Center around the contribution of the team to the community, which makes sense. It will put sponsoring in a different light as well.
Sports business is fans business. The analytics of the fans is called fanalytics and at least four panels revolved around this subject. Darren Rovell seated the most prominent. The panel mentioned many numbers. Ticketmaster analyzed that the purchase of ticket shared on Twitter has the value of $20 and on Facebook only $6. These are hard numbers for a ‘soft’ channel as social media. Those tickets are in 80% digital tickets for the MLB. Still 20% of all MLB tickets are paper tickets, although this number is decreasing rapidly. A digital ticket does not mean that the MLB (or any other sports league or franchise) knows who comes to the stadium, let alone where someone is in the stadium. Soon this might be the case, but two important conditions must be met. 1) Connectivity in the entire stadium (wifi and/or 3G/4G). From scratch this will cost $ 8 million per stadium, as Rovell has learned. 2) Getting the fans “into the app environment.” As the owner of the Giants claims, in two years ordering hotdogs from your seat should be possible. You need to get the order your self, because a runner with orders to seats is almost impossible in a full stadium.
Staying relevant in social media
Getting to know your fans even better is best done in going where your fans are going: on the blogs, Facebook, Twitter and on the other social media. Social media maven and quote machine Gary Vaynerchuk joined the panel on social media with one of his clients, the Brooklyn Nets. Vaynerchuk: “Power in social media is in the defense, not the offense. React to what happens, be prepared.” It is one of his well-known mantra: answer the questions your fans ask you on social media. He puts his money where his mouth is: directly after the panel he answers my questions on Twitter.
Omid Ashtari (Chief of sports and entertainment of Twitter) delivers three important lessons. The first one goes on where Gary left off: be prepared! He mentions the famous Super Bowl in the dark example of Oreo. The second lesson: social media is not all one bucket! It is not one channel, but many different channels. Treat Twitter different from Facebook. The third lesson of Omid is a very practical one: separate your play-by-play account from the more general news account. Hardcore fans will follow the match close by and demand play-by-play reports. ‘Light’ fans only care for the most important updates and will unfollow of there are too many updates.
“Social media is nothing new,” says Vaynerchuk, “it is about making great content for lovers of sports.” Something media have been doing for ages. The VP for content of Bleacher Report (number 3 sports website in the US) adds to that: “Bleacher Report only produces content for a reason, we call that, efficient content.” He has seven analysts on the pay roll. Something I am very jealous off.
And almost matter-of-fact-ly: “Facebook seems to be losing the younger demo in the US.” Facebook is over the hill for the youth, who is more active on Tumblr and Snapchat.
Too much to information for one blog
As a European I had to adapt to the American sports culture, even though I visit the US a lot and follow US sports (business) even more. With six people from The Netherlands, we had a solid delegation for European standards. And European sports culture has one beachhead at this conference: for the third year there was a soccer panel. Non-ball sports were completely absent, save for one panel on Lance Armstrong and doping. Daniel Coyle, who wrote the book Secret Race, answered my question on the unfairness of sports like this: “Level playing field in sports is a myth, but it should not be built on something illegal.” And he had a solid advice for clean sports. Not just the pro-cycling, but especially for the American leagues of MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL: 1) introduce the biological passport 2) instate a truly independent doping control agency 3) test 24/7.
Secondly as a European I was amazed by how well the American leagues care for their franchises. The NBA has a weekly call with all their teams on (digital) marketing. The MLB has a digital agency, which has built the most downloaded sports app for many years now. The MLS buys all data for soccer analytics and distributes this amongst all her clubs. We trail far behind in Europe on this matter. Also the salary caps are something to start working on now in Europe (this concerns soccer mostly). Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots: “The salary cap [in 1994] brought business sense into the sports instead of pouring in money from outside the business.”
The success of sports – be it in analysis on field or of social media – all starts with taking risks. Marc Cuban, multi billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said that his investment in data analysis only started to make sense after four years. Only then there was enough data to compare. That means for four years you have to believe in the right choice. Even though analysis shifted policy making in sports from an emotional basis to a rational basis, human interference remains necessary.
Some final takeouts
I used 80 tweets to cover two days of SSAC. And I only visited one out of 3 panels, due to the full schedule. So no room here for 3D printing, for DNA testing and for a robot-pitching arm, which can throw balls at the dazzling speed of 400 miles per hour.
I leave you with these thoughts
• Paraag Marathe (COO of the San Francisco 49-ers): “Future value of data analysis in sports is in 1) mental/psychological analytics 2) injuries 3) in game strategy.
• Kevin Demoff (COO of the St. Louis Rams): “There is no middle class anymore in football.” Same goes for soccer and pro-cycling. There are a few stars and the rest are there to fill the pelotons or fields.
• Jennifer Storms (VP of Sportsmarketing of Pepsi): “We do not just attach logos but bring in our own innovation team and use all touch points.” Nothing to add to that.
• Jonathan Kraft (owner of the New England Patriots): “We do not expect to grow business from ticket & in stadium sales. We look for other areas of growth.” Where are these areas? Sponsoring? Media? Or on the soft side, community and society?