SBD/Issue 49/Events & Attractions

SMT Concludes With Talks On Social Networking, Digital Media

Panel Feels Brands Can Make Money
By Using Social Networking
The 10th annual Fantasy Sports Associations Sports Media & Technology Conference continued late Thursday morning in N.Y. with a panel titled “Social Networking and the Sports Industry.” Panelists included IBM Dir of Marketing Strategy Daniel Aronson, Coyle Media President Pat Coyle, WePlay.com CEO Steve Hansen, Citizen Sports Founder & CEO Mike Kerns and YouTube Strategic Partner Development Manager Nick Mehra

The issue: Is there real money to be made for brands using social networking?
The skinny: Kerns: “Within digital, particularly, you’re going to see more and more dollars going to ROI driven campaigns like ‘search’ and ‘click through analysis’ and you’re going to see more and more money go into social media and go away from branded advertising on portals.”
Hansen: “What we tried to do was actually find a way for advertisers to interact with their target audience. ... It’s very difficult in an environment like Myspace where there is no moderation; there is no nominal level of control.” 
Kerns: “I totally disagree. In Myspace, advertisers don’t want to be on the profile page because there is no moderation, but advertisers, and there’s tons of evidence to suggest it, are very interested in being in environments that are actually being controlled by Myspace.”
The issue: How do you increase the comfort level of advertisers on a local level?
The skinny: Coyle: “To put it in perspective, there were 7.5 million unique visitors to Colts.com in 2007, but only 25,000 registered users on ‘MyColts.’… For some advertisers that’s enough, for now, just to get their feet in and start the process of learning because they see that these are the most avid of the avid fans in the fan community. ... What we try to preach to sponsors is think not about how to push your product, think about how do you add value to the fans’ experience and then earn their attention over time?”
The issue: What was the thinking for the NFL placing a prohibition on teams having Myspace pages or Facebook pages? Is there potential for change?
The skinny: Coyle: “My sense is the rules were written several years ago, before a lot of this stuff was even happening, but the way franchises operate is within a geographic trade zone. We can’t go into Cincinnati, for example, and try to get season ticket holders, but the Internet kind of blows that model up.”
Mehra Feels Sports Lends Itself
To Notion Of Social Networking
Mehra
: “We’re seeing a lot of individual teams realizing a value in a presence on YouTube. When you think of the concept of social media, I think it’s really at a team level. ... Sports really lends itself well to this notion of social networking, given who the demo is and the notion of rivalries and the passion. Teams are slowly realizing the value in having a presence there and connecting on a grassroots level.”
Greatest hit: “The question is: In this economic environment, if you found the passionate fans how do you monetize that? One of the big challenges for monetization now is capturing the value of that unique passion.” -- Aronson.
The issue: Can YouTube ever replace "SportsCenter?"
The skinny: Mehra: “No, but the value that YouTube brings to the sports fan is that it’s incredibly comprehensive and doesn’t just focus on mainstream sports. There’s a whole other world out there.”
The issue: What is the opportunity that broad-based sports sites are missing regarding social networking?
The skinny: Aronson: “There’s something missing, partly because it’s not here yet, which is community created content can go much farther than it’s gone so far. ... To build for that is an opportunity that is open to the big sites to the little sites and that’s a gauntlet that has yet to be picked up.”

On Wednesday afternoon, NBC Universal Chief Digital Officer George Kliavkoff sat for a one-on-one interview.  Kliavkoff discussed his upcoming departure from NBC at the end of the year and other digital media issues.

Kliavkoff Feels Now Is Perfect Time To
Invest In Or Join A Digital Media Company
The issue: In this economy, you seem to have chosen unemployment, at least in a temporary sense.  What’s your thinking there?
Kliavkoff: "I actually cannot think of a better time to invest or start or to join a digital media company. ... A lot of the things we wanted to accomplish at NBC we accomplished in the two and a half years I’ve been there."
The issue: What’s the market like in this environment for startups to raise capital?
Kliavkoff: "From talking to the private capital community and the venture capital community, I think there is a lot focus on taking care of the portfolio companies first. Making sure there is enough liquidity and making sure they will make money on the investments they’ve already made. ... But in this type of market, you get a flight to quality and a flight to folks who have run large business before."
The issue: What got accomplished in Beijing in terms of the Olympics as a digital event?
Kliavkoff: "Putting almost all of the content, 2,200 hours of programming, available live on the internet and on mobile phones, looked like a risky bet going in, but I think we were vindicated when you see the results, and I think what we found was that the viewership was additive to TV. ... Not only did people watch more content, but they watched more TV. ... If you make a lot of content online, you have to think about what that does to the syndication business ... that’s the one area where I see there could be some issues."
The issue: Are there certain components of creating Hulu that can be translated to sports?
Kliavkoff: "You have to figure out folks who you are normally competing with and figure out how you can work together to make the pie bigger. ... I think working with your competitors is a new paradigm that people are going to have to get used to."
The issue: Could something like that occur between two sports properties on something like a common video portal?
Kliavkoff: “I tried to get that accomplished when I was at MLB, unsuccessfully. But yes, it could happen.”
Kliavkoff Watching To See What Sports
Properties Will Stay On Free TV
The issue
: What’s the NBC perspective on the streaming of “Sunday Night Football”?
Kliavkoff: “This is a great experiment.  Is it additive?  Does it drive incremental video viewership on all platforms. And the answer is yes. ... I think it’s early stages, but early results are terrific.”
The issue: What’s the new FCC going to be like relative to digital media?
Kliavkoff: “I think it’s going to be friendly to digital media.”
The issue: What stories are you watching in digital media and sports business at large?
Kliavkoff: “In sports business, I’m interested in the rights issues.  Also, with the new administration, whether stuff stays on free TV. ... On digital issues, the most interesting thing I think is coming is a wave of personalization.”

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