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Rethinking Sports Through The Lens Of Media, Data And Fans | AdExchanger – AdExchanger

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The Sell Sider” is a column written for the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Alessandro De Zanche, an audience and data strategy consultant.

Sports federations, leagues, clubs and athletes are fighting for their future. In a matter of weeks live sport evaporated due to COVID-19, with some events postponed and others officially concluded long before their planned end dates.

In Europe, where the pandemic arrived earlier than the United States, live sports video streaming dropped 91% by the last week of March, according to Conviva.

The absence of live games and active competitions has removed “the product” from sport fans’ lives. However, if from a monetization standpoint sport is a product, for its audiences it is definitely much more than that.

The advantage for the sport industry, compared to other verticals, is a religious-like attachment and passion for the different disciplines, leagues, clubs and athletes that can span the entire length of their fans’ lives.

Unfortunately, the sports industry never fully capitalized on this unique advantage, and sports organizations failed to build success on solid audience and data strategies.

The sports industry instead lived in complacency, fueled by TV rights, sponsorships, ticketing and merchandising, all dependent on the physical existence of competitions or championships, rather than focusing on a crucial pillar: the unrelenting passion of fans (and their spending power). The nearly automatic and almost effortless revenue streams and immense popularity blinded many and prevented them from realizing that for most, the foundations were missing.

As a result, when the live events all stopped a few weeks ago, the emperor found itself without clothes.

What future changes could mitigate the dependence on live events?

Becoming a digital platform

One major shift should be the transition from a passive digital presence to an active one. The current approach is passively built around the live event, game or competition, which attracts an audience depending on interest in the event itself and then releases the audience until the next event. I visualize it as a burning pile of paper, which produces a huge and bright flame but extinguishes itself within a few minutes, if not seconds, after the paper is consumed.

An active approach starts from the fans and exploits the events, one after the other, season after season, to grow the audience and “digitalize” it. It would create fidelity and loyalty and enable a data and content strategy focused on personalization, engagement and monetization.

This approach turns social media to sports organizations’ advantage, where they can promote themselves on social networks while attracting audiences onto their own digital properties. The objective is the creation of an environment where fans can satisfy their attachment to the league, club and athletes and stay as close as possible to them.

It means, effectively, turning the league, club or athlete into a virtual platform of interconnected digital properties with an underlying data collection and activation infrastructure, which grows with time through a virtuous cycle and becomes the core experience for fans and audiences.

It opens the opportunity to own and manage several channels, from esports to media, which are crucial to maintain engagement and communication with audiences, especially when live events are not being held.

More importantly, it becomes the platform onto which sponsorships can be plugged in and activated. So can merchandising strategies, again without depending on the live event, not to mention all the relevant revenue channels surrounding competitions, such as ticketing.

Sponsoring isn’t – or shouldn’t be – just the act of stitching a logo onto a shirt or physical or virtual space. It should be the association between a brand and sport organization, through which the connection with the audience happens. The stronger the bond between the sport organization or athlete and the fans, the higher the emotional value of the sponsorship, peaking during competition but also kept to a high level outside of it.

Sports organizations also have the urgency to reinvent their content strategy and realize their potential for evolving into media owners. They could become a reference for their audiences, rather than representing the weakest link in the discussion and commentary outside the court, often with a marked imbalance of influence between organizations and their players.

Fading influence

The urgent need for a strategic rethinking is underscored by what recently happened with FC Barcelona. Lionel Messi, arguably the world’s best soccer player, set off a bomb by lashing out at the club’s hierarchy on Instagram, leaving the club running for cover and unable to match the visibility and audience of its most representative player.

A few days later, a TV station also accused FC Barcelona’s board of hiring a social media company to create fake accounts and launch a smear campaign against some current and former players to enhance the image of the club’s president. True or not, the damage has been done.

These incidents involving one of the world’s top soccer clubs shows how far sports organizations are from owning their own strong and influential media platforms.

For the same reason, in the last few weeks, nearly all sports media owners have seen their content sources disappear almost completely: No scores, no tables, no games. The lack of differentiation across most sports media outlets is striking.

The news media offers sports organizations and traditional sports media owners a useful lesson in improving their presence. The commoditization of news has pushed the category into a long decline caused by, among other things, the free availability of news. The lack of differentiation, in turn, diminished monetization opportunities. The issue has been partially overcome by publishers moving away from breaking news and creating differentiated and unique content, such as commentary, reports and insights.

The good news is that audiences’ attachment and passion for sports typically lasts not just for the moment but also across fans’ lives.

For sports organizations and sports media owners, it’s time for reflection and seizing the opportunity to reposition themselves more strategically in a world moved by new criteria and dynamics, but still fueled by the same fire burning in fans’ hearts.

Follow Alessandro De Zanche (@adzandads) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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The Media Kitchen wins Pillway, launches first campaign – Media In Canada

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The Media Kitchen wins Pillway, launches first campaign

A primarily digital campaign will target older adults and caregivers as the online pharmacy looks to grow its base.

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A primarily digital campaign will target older adults and caregivers as the online pharmacy looks to grow its base.

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#BlackOutTuesday spreads across social media in protest against George Floyd killing – CBC.ca

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Major broadcasters, music streaming companies and more are joining with celebrities and music labels in halting or altering their regular operations Tuesday to express solidarity with U.S. and international protests against the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

ViacomCBS Inc. said it would be on “on pause” for #BlackOutTuesday to reflect on recent events and to shift focus from “building business to building community.”

On Monday, the company had its channels — including CBS News, MTV and Comedy Central — transmit eight minutes and 46 seconds of breathing sounds with the words “I can’t breathe,” denouncing the incident last week that sparked mass protests across United States and abroad, including in Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

A Minneapolis police officer was arrested last week on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for his role in the death of the 46-year-old Floyd.

Streaming giant Spotify Technology said it would feature an eight minute and 46 second track of silence in select podcasts and playlists on Tuesday, while also halting social media publications. Apple Music said it would use the day to reflect and plan actions to support black artists, creators and communities.

Hitting pause on music industry 

On Monday, a host of record labels announced they would mark Tuesday by suspending business, delaying new music releases, and pledging support for racial justice organizations fighting inequality.

The initiative originated with #TheShowMustBePaused, an effort led by record industry executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang calling for an intentional disruption of the work week to protest against the deaths of black people in police custody.

They also issued a call to action, with suggestions that ranged from supporting the family of Floyd to learning about racial justice to joining grassroots anti-racism campaigns and protests.

“Our mission is to hold the industry at large — including major corporations and their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people — accountable,” the organizers said in a statement.

“This is not just a 24-hour initiative. We are and will be in this fight for the long haul.”

Social media participation

Dozens of artists and sports stars have spoken out against Floyd’s death and the racism they say lay behind it as the protests spread. Multiple musicians, including Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande and Jay-Z have spoken out in response to the death and subsequent demonstrations, some of which have turned violent.

On Tuesday, celebrities such as Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Kylie Jenner all went dark on social media to acknowledge Floyd’s death. 

NBA stars including LeBron James and Steph Curry posted an empty black photo on their Instagram pages. The league’s official page posted the same photo with the hashtag “#NBATogether.”

Pushback on social posts

However, there has been pushback against some of these attempts at solidarity via social media.

Many people have been posting dark squares with the hashtags #BLM and #BlackLivesMatter.

Black activists have pointed out that including those tags drown out the existing posts, which share information about current protests, important resources and documentation of violence. 

In other cases, social media commenters are challenging the sincerity of both companies and individuals who have created “in solidarity” posts, questioning whether their real-life actions, choices and decisions reflect the same anti-racist sentiment they are currently expressing online.

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Media firms, celebrities join #BlackOutTuesday protests – The Globe and Mail

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A #BlackOutTuesday Instagram post displayed on a phone on June 2, 2020 in Wallington, England.

Mark Trowbridge/Getty Images

Major broadcasters, celebrities and music streaming companies including Apple Music and Spotify turned off or made changes to their services on Tuesday to mark their solidarity with protests against the killing of George Floyd.

ViacomCBS Inc said it will be on “on pause” for #BlackOutTuesday to reflect on recent events and to shift focus from “building business to building community.”

The company on Monday had its channels, including CBS News, MTV and Comedy Central, transmit 8 minutes and 46 seconds of breathing sounds with the words “I can’t breathe,” denouncing the incident last week that sparked protests across America.

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A Minneapolis police officer was arrested last week on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for his role in the death of the 46-year-old Floyd.

Celebrities including Rihanna, Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Kylie Jenner all went dark on social media to acknowledge Floyd’s death.

NBA stars including LeBron James and Steph Curry posted an empty black photo on their Instagram pages. The league’s official page posted the same photo with the hashtag “#NBATogether.”

Streaming giant Spotify Technology said it would feature an 8 minute and 46 second long track of silence in select podcasts and playlists on Tuesday, while also halting social media publications.

Apple Music said it would use the day to reflect and plan actions to support black artists, creators and communities.

Dozens of artists and sports stars have spoken out against Floyd’s death and the racism they say lay behind it as the protests spread through U.S. cities.

Leading record labels said they would mark Tuesday by suspending business and working with communities to fight racial inequality.

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“Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart!,” Rihanna wrote on Instagram.

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