Insights from Foley’s Webinar on Media, Digital, Broadcast and the Olympics
One hundred years ago this summer, we effectively celebrated the birth of sports media when Jack Dempsey knocked out France’s Georges Carpentier in Jersey City – marking the first multimillion-dollar boxing match, but also the first sporting event broadcasted on national radio. Some say this is the birth of sports media, and over the past century we’ve seen this evolve into something far more than what was then imaginable. What has this evolution looked like? What role do things like streaming, digital, and social media play in today’s sports business landscape? And how will the 2020 Olympics be impacted by a limited media and fan presence?
That’s what Foley & Lardner and host Rick Horrow of Horrow Sports Ventures explored in the fifth installment of their Leadership Insight series, The Comeback: Sports in a Worldwide Pandemic. Here are some of the key takeaways and learnings from each panelist’s conversation on the business in and around sports media, digital, and broadcasting – as well as the Olympics.
Zach Leonsis; SVP of Strategic Initiatives; Monumental Sports & Entertainment
Vertical Integration at MS&E: Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MS&E) is responsible for many teams, leagues, facilities, and other sports business operations across the country – integrating these and finding ways for them to work together gives them a leg up in the industry. Scott highlights just how much scale matters when it comes to finding efficiencies in expenses, featuring shared services across organizations, or heeding insights from business intelligence and data-based management tools.
- Navigating the Pandemic: MS&E has thought of the pandemic as a 1,000-day episode, and while the sports industry has made a comeback – that comeback is not complete. That said, Zach is confident in the comeback and believes the learnings of the pandemic will be valuable going forward. One theory they’ve bought into over the pandemic is: ‘bricks are out, and clicks are in’ – which is why they’ve tracked developments like cord-cutting, streaming, the evolution of cable, the rise of NFTs, and advancement of sports betting.
- Managing Gambling, Esports, and NFTs: MS&E works across many of the quickly evolving industries within sports media – which comes with its challenges, but also opportunity. For example, in gambling – media is just now starting to tease sports gambling experiences, but there’s a long way to go for full integration. In esports, Zach believes there’s a tremendous media viewership component for the industry on a global basis – the question is how you integrate the various platforms touching the product. Finally, NFTs create an enormous risk / reward proposition, but he believes value can be created if you’re first, or one of the first.
Phil de Picciotto; Founder and President; Octagon
- Impact of Olympics on Post-Pandemic Sports: The Olympic games have a real opportunity to change how we think about post-pandemic sports business. The postponement has had an enormous impact on logistics, corporate activations, and networks, forcing organizations to consider things like risk-management and assessment at a global level, how deals are negotiated and what the terms are, a heightened focus on athlete and fan health, and how to coordinate better on an international scale.
- Athlete Brand Development and the Olympic Impact: The market of opportunities for athletes, particularly amateur athletes, has expanded in recent weeks with changes to name, image, and likeness rules. But for any athlete, building a brand is ultimately about performance, so when a global event – like the Olympics in 2020 – is no longer there, they were forced to find a different platform to remain relevant, so they turn to the larger media marketplace – which puts most at a disadvantage when it comes to building and sustaining their brand.
- Where is Sports Business headed in the future?: While difficult to pinpoint, there are several things we should keep our eyes on to understand where the industry is headed: (1) the connection to its fanbase – everyone from owners to players to corporations have a role in this; (2) technological advancement and integration – particularly tech’s ability to globally integrate; and (3) sports leaders seeking ways of innovation and adopting the trends of the world.
Alev Kelter; Seven’s Player; Women’s USA Rugby
- Using the Sports Platform: The platform sports provides affords the opportunity to reach millions of people. For Alev, her goal with this platform is to not only inspire children to get out and play every day, but also to encourage everyone to be confident, disciplined, and follow their passions.
- Adjusting to COVID-19: Three months from the pinnacle of her sport, the Covid pandemic forced the postponement of the 2020 Olympics. At the time, it was devastating for Alev and her team, but in a way they had trained for this – they trained to be adaptable. So, instead of turning inward, they turned outward, focusing on how they could help their community and teammates in such a difficult time.
- Focus Post-Playing Career: With the downtime brought by the pandemic and the postponement of the Olympics, Alev had the opportunity to think about what she wants to do once her playing career is over. She used the break to think through what the next step in her career might look like; identifying opportunities to grow her network and seeking out the things and people that inspire her.