On May 9th we headed to the BT centre in London for the two day, Telegraph Business of Sport conference 2017. The event played host to a series of panel discussions, keynotes and masterclasses, attracting 200 senior influencers – from brands, rights-holders, broadcasters and innovators in the field of sport. We were delighted to be invited to the event where our CEO, Ben Smith, took to the stage on Day Two to share some of Laduma’s experiences and insight with the attendees. Here are our top 5 key takeaways from the event.
1. Fan-focused tech
Our CEO Ben Smith discussed the current market of fan-focused tech alongside Alexandra Willis, the Head of Communications, Content and Digital, The All England Lawn Tennis Club. Sports teams and events worldwide are looking for new ways to use emerging technologies such as VR and AR to overcome their challenges, particularly around fan engagement. Willis explained Wimbledon are in a privileged and unique position that they do not have to worry about ticket sales because they are significantly over-subscribed. This, however, poses a different challenge of keeping fans who aren’t able to attend the event engaged via various platforms. Some of their ideas for using VR included getting inside Andy Murray’s head as he steps up to serve on centre court, sitting next to Sue Barker in a television study or playing the role of umpire. Is that something you would be interested in viewing in VR? Laduma captured 360° content at Wimbledon 2016.
2. The future of broadcasting
With platforms like Facebook LIVE offering rights holders an alternative way to reach their audience, what does the future hold for traditional broadcasting? How can sports get out from behind the pay-wall without becoming commercially unviable? A great example of this is when the table tennis England vs Greece European championships qualification was streamed on Facebook LIVE via SPORT Bible’s page attracting 2.2million views, suggesting going forward this may be an alternative more cost effective platform for rights holders, than traditional TV broadcasting. What do you think?
3. China’s influence on the UK’s football market
China has had a growing influence on the European sport of recent years and recently is taking football very seriously. President Xi Jinping, a keen football fan, wants China to not only host but win the World Cup and sees investment in grassroots schools and pitches as the way forward. In addition, Chinese clubs, backed by state and private funding, are signing some big names in world football – and in their prime, rather than early retirement. Oscar, the gifted Brazilian, moved from Chelsea to Shanghai SIPG in January for a fee in the region of £60m at the age of 25. When it comes to players, salaries are eye-catching, but they aren’t everything. Players also want titles and glory, and the prestige of a winner’s medal from the main leagues and cups in Europe. Will the resumes of Oscar and Tevez be so celebrated with a Chinese Super League title on them?
4. Where will eSport go from here?
eSports, which if you did not know is playing video games competitively against others online, is not viewed as a sport in Britain. It is classified as a game, in the same way as bridge or chess. However, it is classed as a sport in other countries. Duncan McMonagle, SVP at Minute Media and Wouter Sleijffers, CEO at esports company, Fnatic demonstrated how significantly esports has grown with esports teams transfers reaching £1 million. For those who have been involved in eSports since the early days, the ‘sudden’ growth hasn’t been so sudden. Football teams are buying into the market which suggests there is further growth. Manchester City have branched out into eSports in the last year, joining Paris Saint-Germain and Schalke who are other football clubs with a presence in the industry. This is a lucrative market, there’s no doubt about it, with Amazon bought esports company Twitch for $900 million. The appointment of Peter Moore, the former CTO of EA Games, as Liverpool FC’s new Chief Executive Officer suggests LFC may also be following suit by bringing in his expertise. Where will eSports go from here as a spectator ‘sport’? Interestingly, a football match at Chartlon Athletic’s the Valley between fellow YouTubers, has sold 27,000 tickets.
5. How brands can capture the passion for sports in their marketing
Ricardo Fort, vice president of global assents and partnerships at Coca-Cola; Gerhard Fourie, a brand strategist at Nissan and Richard Whitty, a global senior marketing manager at Carlsberg discussed the different ways of leveraging the passion of sports to promote their brand. VR and AR was again mentioned along with other emerging technologies as an important industry to be on board with as a brand. They key point raised was how important it is to understand the habits of your target consumer. If you get that wrong, it can have the opposite desired effect. I’m sure you can think of a few times when brands have got it wrong, but when it comes to sports and passion is involved it is even more important for brands to understand their audience.