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Published December 7, 2022

4 minute read

Investopia Summit Explores the Power of Media in Sports Business

Building a quality product is essential to monetize sports. Clubs must focus on traditional and future customers, control their narrative and engage with communities. Finding a balance between exclusivity and reach is key.

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Key Takeaways

  • Five core beliefs can help sports clubs harness the power of media. (1) Building the club’s product before monetizing, as they cannot keep counting on competition between broadcasters and platforms to sustain the success of their business. (2) Focusing on traditional customers and media along with the future generation, because the former will transmit the passion for the industry. (3) Building and mastering the narrative proactively which would help navigate public crises. (4) Finding the club’s tone and not only its narrative, one that can help the club actively engage with its community. (5) Invest in skilled talent that can help find the club’s tone, organize and build content.
  • All clubs, regardless of size, now have the chance to engage with their communities, reach broader ones, and adopt new revenue-generating activities using the tools of new media to transform the way they communicate.
  • It is important to understand that communication is an investment. If we don't invest digitally, we will not be able to reduce our distance from the target audience. Part of this investment needs to be focused on understanding the audience and the community, through data collection for example, in order to better cater for them.
  • The era of TV exclusivity over sports is over. Today the sports industry needs to find a balance between exclusivity of TV rights, and the reach and engagement it needs with the target audience, something that would require engaging more with new media at the expense of traditional media.
  • It is important to understand how younger generations are consuming football. They can be consuming it through different media, or different formats, it is a challenge for traditional business models in sports, but has great potential and opportunities.

Investopia: The Future of Investments in Sports recently hosted a dialogue on Harnessing the Media Power of Football for Business. The session focused on how football clubs and corporations can benefit from the exceptional media power of sports, particularly in light of the 2022 World Cup and the growing number of viewers expected to tune in.

The dialogue featured Santiago Zuza Fernandez, the Communication Director of CA Osasuna, and Cyril Linette, CEO and Founder of The Fellow Company, as speakers. Philippe Bruet of PBMEDIAS moderated the dialogue.

Cyril Linette, the CEO and Founder of The Fellow Company, emphasized the importance of being customer-centric and understanding the needs and wants of different audience segments. “Football is about passion and transmission of that passion for preparing your future generation of customers, but also to take care of today’s customers,” he said. “Many industries focus on young people and disregard current and traditional customers who will actually transmit their passion. Thus, it is important to also focus on traditional media.”

Linette shared five core beliefs that can help sports clubs harness the power of media. The first is building the club’s product before monetizing, which means clubs cannot rely on competition between broadcasters and platforms to sustain the success of their business. The product is changing, and they need to build a complicated product between reach and exclusivity while considering monetization before and not after.

The second belief is about taking care of today’s customers rather than just focusing on tomorrow’s. Linette explained that everyone is obsessed with rejuvenating their target, especially young people, via TikTok. However, it is essential to also focus on traditional media, as they will transmit their passion for the industry.

The third belief is about being ready for the narrative and story. Clubs need to master their narrative and control it, especially in times of public crises. They need to find their tone, not only their story and engage with their community daily.

The fourth belief is about investing in skilled talent to help find the club’s tone, organize, and build content. Clubs must communicate with their community daily, and a team dedicated to this task is crucial.

The fifth and final belief is about using new media to transform how clubs communicate. Linette stated that clubs of all sizes now have the opportunity to engage with their communities, reach broader ones, and adopt new revenue-generating activities using the tools of new media.

Santiago Zuza Fernandez, the Communication Director of CA Osasuna, shared his experience in building the club’s media and communication capabilities. He emphasized the importance of understanding the audience and the community through data collection to better cater to their needs. “It is important to understand that communication is an investment,” he said. “If we don’t invest digitally, we cannot reduce the distance from the target audience. Part of this investment needs to be focused on understanding the audience and the community.”

Fernandez highlighted the challenge of reaching different audiences through different channels and adapting to their needs. “We are one of the clubs that have Arabic social media and are not using a translating service,” he said. “It is important that we are capable of understanding the culture of the audience we are reaching, a younger audience that respects football and the Spanish league differently.”

Fernandez also discussed the changing revenue model for sports clubs, which now rely not only on traditional sponsorships but also on the media content they produce to monetize their business. He explained that the club’s digital marketing department agreed with the league to develop monetization on a faster scale, allowing them to advance and get ahead in different apps and channels.

The dialogue concluded with discussion of the interaction between sports entities and traditional media with new media. Linette stated that the era of TV exclusivity over sports is over, and clubs need to find a balance between the exclusivity of TV rights and the reach and engagement they need with the target audience, which would require engaging more with new ones at the expense of traditional media.

Zuza Fernandez added that traditional media is still essential for clubs to create good relationships with, but new media offers great potential and opportunities for the industry. “The younger generation are consuming football, but it is key to understand how they are consuming it,”

In addition, Fernandez emphasized the importance of investing in digital communication, stating, “If we don’t invest digitally, we will not be able to reduce the distance with the audience. We need to really focus on the target audience.” He added that understanding the audience and community through data collection is crucial for better catering to them.

Linette added that clubs need to start really knowing their community and accessing data to understand their customers. “You will probably know how to give them the product they need and make money,” he said.

The discussion also delved into the evolving relationship between sports entities and traditional media with the rise of new media. Fernandez stated that they coexist, but the Liga can sell its products through different mediums, and that traditional media is still essential for building relationships.

Linette added that the era of TV exclusivity over sports is over and emphasized the need to balance the exclusivity of TV rights and the reach and engagement required with the target audience, which would necessitate engaging more with new media at the expense of traditional media.

The panelists also noted the importance of understanding how younger generations consume football and the challenges and opportunities it presents for traditional business models in sports. “The younger generation is consuming football, but it is key to understand how they are consuming it. They can consume it through different media or different formats. It is a challenge for traditional models, a problem of business with great potential and opportunities,” Fernandez said.

Overall, the panel provided valuable insights into how sports clubs and corporations can benefit from the exceptional media power of sports and the tools of new media to transform how they communicate and engage with their communities. As the sports industry evolves, stakeholders must adapt to new technologies and understand how to leverage them to stay ahead in the game effectively.

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