Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pick 6: Brands, Stories, and Trends Shaping Sports Business #24

Here are six stories from the past week that delve into the present and future of sports marketing.

1. DICK's Sporting Goods and U.S. Olympic Committee is a Partnership that Works

A recent announcement that DICK's Sporting Goods had agreed to be a sponsor of the 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams does not seem unusual at first glance. The link between a sporting goods retailer and sports is about as logical as a partnership can be. What is unique about DICK's involvement with the USOC is its commitment to help athletes. Most Olympic athletes do not have multi-million dollar endorsement deals with brands. They pursue their Olympic dreams in obscurity and often with limited financial means.

DICK's Team USA Store Ambassador Program will employ aspiring Olympic athletes at DICK's stores. They will have a job and a flexible schedule for their training. It would have been simple for a brand like DICK's to hand a check to the USOC and be done. Instead, it is providing assistance through jobs and equipment to the people who will benefit most: the athletes. 

2. Las Vegas Bets on the NHL

For years, Las Vegas has longed to have a professional sports franchise. But, it has been overlooked in large part because of its standing as a gambling mecca. The National Hockey League is considering Las Vegas for an expansion franchise. An effort has launched to get deposits on 10,000 season tickets to demonstrate support for an NHL team. This situation is not unique, but what is different for Las Vegas compared to expansion franchise pushes of the past is that social media can be used to build fan awareness. A campaign that includes the website and a Twitter hashtag #VegasWantsHockey is helping to move toward that goal. Will social media be a key to success in the Las Vegas NHL team drive?

3. The Promise of a Better Sports Consumption Experience via Technology

Technology innovations have a track record of making sports consumption more enjoyable. On-screen graphics that show first down lines, field goal range, and red zone statistics are three examples in football alone of how technology has enhanced the TV consumption experience. Another way in which the TV sports product has improved is camera angles. Skycam technology gives us a closer view to the field of play from cameras suspended on cables above a field. 

Soon, the view will be even more up-close as experiments with GoPro cameras and jersey cams show game action from the participants' perspective. These enhancements, coupled with the drama of live sporting events, are among the reasons why sports properties continue to command lofty rights fees from TV networks. Is there a risk that the in-home consumption experience becomes so good that attending the event in-person loses appeal (and threatens the ticket revenue stream)?

New Technology and the Future of Sports, by Verdan Vukusic, Overtime

4. Beacons a Difference Maker for College Sports?

College football and basketball are revenue generating sports at many universities, but how can other sports gain greater visibility and fan interest? The University of Mississippi is using beacon technology to enhance the fan experience and promote all sports in its athletic program. Ole Miss links its use of beacon technology at its football, basketball, and baseball venues to its Rebel Rewards program. Beacons add to the fan experience at the Ole Miss baseball stadium by serving player stats and providing timely information on concession and restroom wait times. The rewards program app is the means through which a fan is able to benefit from beacons located throughout the venue.

A bigger picture goal is that rewards program encourages attendance for less popular sports by awarding extra points. Ole Miss is not using technology for technology's sake; it is striving to improve the fan experience and build a following for all of its sports teams.

How One College is Using Tech to Grow Sports beyond Football, by Kate Kaye, Ad Age

5. Turning Content into Cash

Sports has an advantage of being one of the most interesting forms of content that exists. Familiarity with sports and liking of one's favorite teams and players have magnet-like properties that attract eyes and ears. Other industries are envious of the content marketing advantage that sports possesses. Given this advantage, sports properties should explore how content can be repurposed to reach wider audiences. A case study from MediaForward discusses how it did just this to maximize the impact of the Oklahoma City Thunder's weekly show, "Air Thunder." The case study is a call to consider what content assets can be used in multiple formats to expand reach and create new revenue streams.

Innovation in Cross-Purposing NBA Content, by Ken Adelson, MediaForward.TV

6. All-Star Games Bring Out All-Star Sponsor Activation

The NBA All-Star Game in New York last weekend put the sport's biggest stars on the world's biggest stage. All-Star Games have evolved from a singular event to a multi-day festival that celebrates a sport. As All-Star games have evolved, they have attracted greater interest from sponsors looking to tap into fan affinity. The 2015 NBA All-Star Game also featured all-star sponsor involvement in the weekend's events and on the streets of the Big Apple. 

The creative activations executed by brands including Nike, State Farm, and Samsung are reminders that a sponsor's marketing of its association with a sport property is limited only by the boundaries of the imagination and good taste (and of course, rights granted by the property).

Photo of the Week

Speaking of creative activation around the NBA All-Star Game, Nike made its presence known with a shoebox-shaped station on a New York street corner. The site promoted Nike SNKRS app, which lets buyers customize and purchase shoes using their phone.

Photo Credit: Twitter- @SoleUniv
See the Nike SNKRS station in action via Nike's Instagram video