SBD/Issue 126/Sportsbusiness Daily Exclusives

IMG World Congress of Sports 2010

PANEL LOOKING AT PHILANTHROPY IN SPORTS WRAPS UP WCOS IN L.A.

Hawk, Mutombo Discuss
Philanthropy's Role In Sports

Earlier this year, skateboarding icon Tony Hawk, in partnership with Athletes for Hope, began a discussion among his professional peers centered on the question “Do athletes have an obligation to give back?” Contemporaries from Steve Nash to Mia Hamm responded, largely through the use of Twitter, that the answer was yes, but perhaps “opportunity” was a better word than “obligation.” This was the focus of the final panel Thursday at the IMG World Congress of Sports, titled “The Role of Philanthropy in Sports,” featuring Hawk; NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo; Agassi Graf Holdings and Andre Agassi Foundation for Education CEO Steve Miller; and Team-Up for Youth Chair Wally Haas. Panelists agreed that athletes have a unique platform for philanthropic work, and that often what first is seen as an opportunity later becomes a passion that extends far beyond an athlete’s professional career. “The power of sports is viewed larger than life in this world,” Haas said. “I have seen more athletes who maybe thought they were going to do this because ‘this might be good for my image,’ but when they see the impact, they get so much out of it.” Mutombo said the message that should appeal to athletes -- and society in general -- is that everyone has the chance to contribute to the image and development of our future society. “We are going to be judged by our future generations,” he said. There was a consensus that sports-driven philanthropy is just getting started. “We’re still just scratching the surface,” Haas said. “This is such a powerful medium to make great change.”

BOTTOM LINE CONTRIBUTIONS: For sports teams, leagues and corporations, charitable work is not just about giving back, panelists said. It can help your bottom line, too. Haas, whose family owned the A's during the '80s and ‘90s, said he instilled the importance of community involvement in the entire organization. “With (athletes’) community involvement, we started to be known for -- even if we had a bad season -- that these are good guys,” He added, “Corporate sponsors started to want to partner with us because they wanted their brand to be affiliated with a community program.” Miller said that Andre Agassi’s charitable work has helped differentiate him from other popular athletes and drive corporations to partner with his foundation. “The corporation wants to make a positive public statement as well,” Miller said. “When you have an athlete that shows clear passion and differentiation, you then have a cross-section that provides a platform for corporations to be more active.”

-- Peter Simones, 4:29pm


FILMMAKERS EXPOUND ON FUTURE OF SPORTS AS STORYTELLING VEHICLE

Is this the Golden Age of sports film making? Some of the most well-known sports filmmakers sat down together to discuss the past and future of sports as a storytelling vehicle on the second morning of the IMG World Congress of Sports. Mediated by ESPN reporter Chris Connelly, the panel included Producer, Director and Writer Ron Shelton; Director and Screenwriter John Lee Hancock; HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg; and Mike Tollin Productions Director Mike Tollin.

Shelton Says MLB Was The Most
Difficult League To Negotiate With

PROPERTY RIGHTS: As sports filmmakers, the panelists were united in their sentiment of the hardships inherent to chasing the story, including negotiating with various leagues and sports properties. Greenburg said, “It can be tough based on the content. If it is controversial and it is the kind of stuff that they just want to put under a rug, then the difficult negotiation begins.” Shelton, who is working on a documentary about a Yankees pitcher playing in the Mexican leagues, said MLB was the most difficult league to negotiate with because it even had requirements about cutting footage not related to MLB properties. MLB also charges more for its footage than other leagues, which makes the cost of a documentary on Michael Jordan’s time in minor league baseball prohibitively high, Shelton said. He added, “At the same time, let me say that the NBA is very easy to work with. Never have they said to me, 'You can’t use this.' The NHL is the same way.” Hancock had similar stories of league negotiations with the NFL while working on his Oscar winning film "The Blind Side." He said, “It came down to cutting frames, can you speed this up can you slow this down. What helped us a lot was the NFL Network and them wanting to brand the NFL Network.” Greenburg had a related point, saying the creation of league networks has contributed to each property's reluctance to license footage of their games for movies and documentaries.

Tollin And Greenburg Disagree With View
That Stories Need To Be Unkown

DEFINING A GENRE: Hollywood studios see sports films as having little potential in foreign markets due to the tribal allegiances of sports fans, according to Hancock. Despite the lack of funding options, each of the filmmakers agreed that they are worth making as passion projects. Tollin said that he makes films about undiscovered stories because “you have a little more poetic license because people aren’t necessarily matching it up against their version of reality.” Greenburg disagreed with the view that the stories need to be unknown, making reference to the recent Magic Johnson and Larry Bird documentary and how that film changed the public perception of that well-known relationship. Shelton defined the sports film and documentary genres as being about interpersonal communication than what happened on the field or court. “Sports drama is not about the play. Sports center is about the play. I am about all the moments in between the play.” Greenburg and Tollin echoed Shelton's sentiment, claiming that as filmmakers it is very important to them to make sure that they faithfully portray the character of the people portrayed in their films.

Hancock Feels Women Characters
Help Drive Women Audiences

LADIES NIGHT: Each of the panelists agreed that while many sports movies are not about women athletes, women are central to their filmmaking process. Shelton said that his feature film “Bull Durham” was driven in part by his belief that "baseball had to be told from the woman’s point of view.” Shelton and Hancock both saw that woman characters would drive women audiences to the film, while the promise of sports action would influence their husbands and male friends. Shelton said, “If a woman took us on a journey, whether she was an insurance copywriter or a baseball groupie, we would follow her if she was a compelling enough figure.” While women make attractive secondary characters as audience drivers, to Greenburg there is still an untapped market in films covering female athletes. To that end he has made a documentary on women’s soccer which he believes is as powerful as the films about male athletes. Greenburg said, “A women empowerment story. … Mia (Hamm) and Julie (Foudy) and that group did something that we thought impossible playing in front of 93,000 people at Rose Bowl and millions around the world cared."

-- Melody Huskey, 3:58pm


PANEL ADDRESSES NEED FOR UNIFIED RIGHTS ACROSS ALL MEDIA PLATFORMS

Jamie Davis, Joseph Ravitch, Ken Solomon,
Derek Chang, Randy Freer And Lenny Daniels

The need for unified rights across all media platforms dominated a Thursday morning session on sports media at the IMG World Congress of Sports. A world in which the consumer needs to tap into different sources if he wants to view the game on a mobile phone rather than on TV is not sustainable for either sports media companies or fans, said panelists:  FSN President Randy Freer; DirecTV Exec VP/Content Strategy & Development Derek Chang; Turner Sports Exec VP & COO Lenny Daniels; Versus President Jamie Davis; Tennis Channel Chair & CEO Ken Solomon; and Raine Founder & Partner Joseph Ravitch. From a consumer standpoint, Chang said, “You’re setting yourself up for a poor customer experience when they’re going to have to look for (programming) in different places.” Panelists generally agreed that the overall sports media pie has ample room to grow without introducing new technologies, but because rights fees aren’t coming down anytime soon, existing technologies and business models needed to be efficiently managed and exploited. “The focus (should be) on working with the leagues, the teams, the sellers of rights to try to put yourself in a position to create the best consumer experience,” Freer said. “It’s a business model that makes sense as opposed to one that bifurcates everything along the consumer chain.” Davis added that it is not just about rights divided across technology platforms -- it is also about alternative platforms’ potential to mimic a television experience. “I’m not convinced that, if it’s a mobile device, it’s not going to go into some dock and come up crystal clear on someone’s television set.” Directly addressing a question about TV-only deals, Daniels said, “We’re not going to go after something when you only have a portion of the rights.”

HOME AND AWAY: Panelists agreed that future growth prospects exist both in domestic and international markets. Solomon echoed sentiments about the potential to increase sports media revenue in the U.S., saying, “In the entire world of entertainment, what has the upside? I bet on sports over anything except maybe $300M motion pictures. I don’t think the blush is off the rose in terms of exploiting the value of what we have.” At the same time, the media potential of emerging international markets has the attention of all major players in the space. “From a sports rights owner’s perspective, the most important area is going to be international,” Ravitch said. “You’re seeing the acceleration of mobile and broadband technologies as well as paid television in a lot of these markets.” Davis offered up the example of cricket in India, where the new professional league, the IPL, altered the match format to make the sport more instantly gratifying, and perhaps not coincidentally, more media-friendly. “That thing (the IPL) came from zero to hero overnight. It has almost turned the entire cricket world upside down.”

-- Peter Simones, 3:22pm ET


PANEL DISCUSSES FUTURE OF SPORTS BUSINESS AT WORLD CONGRESS OF SPORTS

Leiweke Feels Sports Team Owners
Are Spending Too Much On Players

Owners across all leagues are spending too much on players and talent, AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke said today during a panel at the IMG World Congress of Sports titled “The Crystal Ball: Forecasting the Future of Sports Business.” Leiweke said sports and entertainment companies are “simply paying talent too much.” He said league leaders need to protect owners from themselves “because we're heroin addicts” who spend on talent and would “keep spending” if they could. But NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said owners do not need to be saved from themselves. He said they are smart and involved in negotiating a labor agreement. Silver noted that he is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about negotiations with the NBPA. The NFL is in the midst of similar negotiations with its players, and NFL Giants Chair & Exec VP Steve Tisch said the primary issue for owners is that the costs of stadiums have risen to a level where “it's very expensive to run and finance a National Football League team.” He was optimistic the NFL and NFLPA would reach resolution. Tisch declined to say who will win in the labor negotiation, but said both parties “want the fan experience not to be interrupted.” In an audience poll, just 33% of respondents said they thought the NFL would lose regular-season games to a strike or lockout in ‘11.

Wasserman Expects To See More
Dynamic Ticket Pricing In Future

MINING FOR GOLD: NFL Exec VP/Media and NFL Network President & CEO Steve Bornstein said revenue streams are opening up for leagues on new technology platforms, and pointed to the NFL’s new $720M deal with Verizon as an example. Bornstein said, “We believe there's premium content out there and people will pay for that. RedZone is an example of that.” He rejected claims by broadcasters that delivering content on new platforms would undermine ratings for rightsholders. The NFL would be careful not to kill “the golden goose” that is television rights fees by creating new products, he said, but if the NFL and others do not innovate and reinvent ways to deliver their content they will lose younger fans. Leiweke said that at the team level, the evolution in sports has taken owners from being focused on ticket revenue to suites and premium seats to real estate and entertainment districts in and around stadiums. He said, “Suddenly, we've all grown from being sports people to being developers, builders and entrepreneurs. The confluence of sports and being an entrepreneur has now come full circle. ... It's amazing to see how sports have evolved.” Leiweke said that while developments around stadiums have helped generate new revenue streams, they also have created an issue for owners on the labor front because players benefiting from venue revenues do not share in the debt servicing associated with them. WMG Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman said that if he was a team owner today he would eliminate tickets so that he could track where tickets were moving on the secondary market. That would allow the team to monetize the secondary market more effectively. He also predicted that dynamic pricing will become more standardized in the future, saying a Tuesday night Lakers game simply is not as valuable as a Friday night game. Wasserman said, “There's a lot of incremental revenue to be generated by ticketing.”

Tisch Receives Support For A
N.Y. Super Bowl From Panelists

OPEN SESAME: Tisch discussed the ongoing search for a naming-rights sponsor to title the Giants’ new Meadowlands stadium they will own with the Jets. “We all know that certain potential naming rights partners are sitting back right now,” he said. “I don't want to put a gun to anyone's head. I'm optimistic we'll have a naming rights partner.” Wasserman, whose agency is handling the naming rights search, expressed similar optimism. Meanwhile, Tisch noted the Giants in May will make a presentation to fellow owners about bringing the Super Bowl to N.Y. The Giants are not looking to become part of the regular Super Bowl rotation, but do want to become a one-time destination for the event. Tisch said, “I think the opportunity to spend Super Bowl week in New York City would be fantastic. I think it would be extremely exciting to play an outdoor Super Bowl.” Bornstein supports the idea because a Super Bowl in N.Y. would be a big event. He added, “Fortunately, I don't get a vote on it. But from our point of view it would be a big, big event.” Silver thought the Super Bowl would work in New York despite the cold weather and outdoor venue. He pointed to the NHL Winter Classic as an example of an outdoor game held in inclement weather that has high demand for tickets. As a native New Yorker, Silver said part of the excitement is seeing how the players the coaches respond to the weather the conditions. He added, “Putting on your long johns and getting dressed for the cold weather is part of the excitement in football. ... That's all part of sport.” When discussing other potential locations for a future Super Bowl, Leiweke expressed an interest in bringing the event to Los Angeles. He and Wasserman weighed in on Ed Roski’s plans for a stadium in the City of Industry. Hosting the Super Bowl is central to city leader's efforts to bring a NFL team back to L.A., Leiweke said, “The NFL will be in L.A. The NFL needs to be in L.A.” Wasserman added there might be other places that are more compelling over the long term than (Roski’s) site.

Silver Says NBA Is Generating "Real
Money" From Investments In China, India

GOING GLOBAL: Wasserman predicted that a U.S. league will be operating overseas in the next five to 10 years, and said that the NFL is best positioned to be the first. But he said regardless of who is first – the NFL, NBA or someone else – they will still be secondary in markets like England or India because EPL and cricket will remain more popular, respectively. It will take time to overcome that, Wasserman said. “It's a slow, long process. It's a lot harder than people realize. It's hard a lot of work and you have to be willing to invest a lot of time and money over a lot of years.” Tisch said he is unsure if the NFL will open a team overseas within the next five years. He added, “The cultural differences are significant. Five years? I don't know. Eventually? I think so.” Silver said the NBA is generating real money from its investments in China and India but added that it is not easy.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: To wrap up the session, panelists offered their perspective on what the sports industry needs to do a better job of. Here are their responses:

  • Wasserman - Working together for its common interest.
  • Tisch – A better job of listening to the fan.
  • Silver – Supporting women's professional sports.
  • Leiweke – More interaction with fans and a better economic model with players
  • Bornstein – More interaction with fans.
    -- Tripp Mickle & Melody Huskey, 1:56pm ET

SPORTING NEWS ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIPS WITH ZINIO, CINESPORT AND COORS LIGHT

Sporting News' Price Discusses Upcoming
Changes To Enhanced Version Of SNT

Sporting News this morning announced at the IMG World Congress of Sports presented by SportsBusiness Journal/Daily new partnerships with interactive publishing products and services outfit Zinio, video syndicator CineSport and Coors Light to aid the forthcoming launch of an enhanced version of Sporting News Today, the property's digital daily news service. As previously announced, the service on April 1 will shift to a pay model in which users will be charged $2.99 per month. That subscription however will allow for full transferability between any wired or wireless device, including the iPad and other advanced e-reader devices currently under development. The partnership with Zinio will help power that transferability, as well as a deep multimedia experience in which the relaunched Sporting News Today will include video and audio content, full-motion advertising and other enhancements. CineSport, which has steadily built its business aggregating official league highlights and licensing them to local media outlets, will provide Sporting News for both the digital daily and SportingNews.com a daily stream of game highlights from the NBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA Tour and many colleges. Sporting News will also become the official national sales agent for the N.J.-based CineSport. "We believe all of this will be a game-changing experience for both fans and advertisers," said Sporting News President & Publisher Jeff Price. The CineSport-Sporting News alliance will also allow Sporting News to develop its own original video content to supplement the aggregated highlight material. Coors Light has signed as the launch sponsor for the new Sporting News Today. Sporting News is owned by American City Business Journals, parent company of SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.

-- Eric Fisher, 1:05pm ET


EXECS DISCUSS WAYS TO ENGAGE CONSUMERS AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH BRANDS

Waller, Chin And Belcher Feel Economy Playing
Part In Consumers Demanding More Value From Brands

The sports marketing industry is in much better shape than it was one year ago, but fans are demanding more value from the brands they interact with, execs said Wednesday at the IMG World Congress of Sports. The “Brand-Leader Panel: Marketing Strategies that Engage Consumers and Build Relationships with the Brand" included NFL CMO Mark Waller; NHL COO John Collins; T-Mobile VP/Brand Communications Marketing Mike Belcher; EA Sports VP/Global Brand Management Glenn Chin; and Phillips-Van Heusen Exec VP/Marketing Mike Kelly. More than ever, consumers are asking what exactly they are getting out of each purchase they make, demanding transparency and honesty from the brands they interact with most, panelists said. “All consumers want more understanding -- if I give you ‘X,’ whether that’s time, money, passion, love, viewership, I want to know what I’m getting in return,” Waller said. “I think that’s a function of people feeling they got conned when (the economy) collapsed.” Even brands known for low-cost positioning have had to rethink value through the consumer’s mind, and panelists agreed that sports was a vehicle to add extra value. “You had to respond to price depression. There was a lot of compression into that (low-cost) space,” Kelly said, adding that Van Heusen’s “Fan’s Choice” campaign, which allowed fans to vote on Pro Football HOF selections, was one method the company used to become more attractive to department stores. “Sports gives us a platform for real spend if we can find a space that we can own,” Kelly said.

SPREADING THE LOVE: In an economy that has forced many fans to part ways with items and purchases not essential to everyday life, panelists agreed that sports maintains a unique position with consumers because of brand strength. Waller said, “In their lives, there are very few things that (consumers) fundamentally love. Their sport or their team is one of the things they put on that list.” Chin said companies that fans rely on to deliver meaningful sports experiences need to constantly stay on top of what is drawing attention at the time. “You have that core Madden base, and they want that experience to continue throughout the year,” Chin added, noting that the NFL Combine has been given more prominence in recent editions of the video game. Belcher said T-Mobile has noticed “major spikes” in mobile phone interaction during sporting events. “We call it trash texting. If a brand can be a part of that, or enable it, that’s pretty powerful.”

FRESH AND CLEAN: Although leagues and sponsors have found success with large-scale, one-time or once-annual events in recent years, panelists cautioned against increasing the volume of such events for fear that they become merely another game in fans’ minds. In response to Blues Owner Dave Checketts’ comment during an earlier panel that the NHL should expand the number of Winter Classic games, Collins said, “The debate is really about the uniqueness of this one event on January 1, and how to keep it special. The idea of outdoor hockey is not unique -- that’s the way most people begin to learn the game.” Collins added this year’s game at Fenway Park had 320,000 people on the waitlist for 38,000 seats. Waller ended this portion of the discussion by saying, “Our job is to find the balance to give (fans) what they want but to still keep it special.”

-- Peter Simones, 10:13am ET


INAUGURAL "CHAMPIONS" CLASS OFFERS LESSONS ON LEADERSHIP AND SUCCESS

(l to r) Host, Colangelo, Ponturo,
Lopiano, Labinski And Pilson

The first day of World Congress closed with a first-time panel of sports legends who tossed aside industry terms like return-on-investment and rights fees in order to impart lessons about leadership and success. The panel was made up of the first class of "The Champions," a new award that recognizes sports business pioneers and innovators: Suns Chair and USA Basketball BOD Chair Jerry Colangelo; Host Communications Founder Jim Host; Populous co-Founder and former Managing Partner Ron Labinski; Sports Management Resources President Donna Lopiano; Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson; and Ponturo Management Group CEO Tony Ponturo.

FAITH-BASED BUSINESS: Believing in yourself and supporting good ideas with hard work are the cornerstone of success, the panelists agreed. Host said, "I have always had immense faith in myself. I never questioned whether I could make it work. I never communicated defeat. I never communicated lack of faith in my own ability." Colangelo used an anecdotal example of leveraging opportunities to illustrate this point, saying that, "In 1992 when we opened the America West Arena, Phoenix was the 19th market in the NBA, yet Phoenix led the NBA in total revenues that year." While with Anheuser-Busch, Ponturo said, his conviction that sports properties were valuable marketing vehicles was critical to convincing to creating partnerships. He added: "I am most proud of the fact that we stood up internally, believed in these properties." Both a motivator and a cause for sacrifice, passion played a critical role for panelists as they shaped their career. For Pilson, this meant that his wife raised their children largely without him. He said, "You manage expectations, not only of your boss and your staff but also your family. It's not easy." For Colangelo, passion was inherent to being a good leader. He said, "Be passionate about what you do, lead by example and what happens is that you earn respect. You can't demand respect, you earn respect."

"The Champion" Award Winners Discuss
The Roots Of Their Success

RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME: Timing and networking were two common refrains echoed by each of the panelists. Ponturo said, "It is about hard work and having good people around you. I think if any of us thought that we did this all by ourselves that would be stupid." Lopiano felt that in her case hard work was necessary in making it as a female in sports business because there were no second chances. Labinski said networking should be a practice because "knowing someone is probably the single most important thing that you could do." Additionally, many of the panelists felt that one important aspect of sports business that young people can overlook is the value of that first impression and how that can build an individual's brand image. Pilson said, "It isn't batting averages. It's skill sets. The most important thing about getting a job in sports is not being interested in sports. We are all interested in sports."

FUTURE PICK'EM: Lopiano said her career was driven by a search for the next best thing. She added that her success was rooted in her effort to "never make the same mistake twice." When discussing their predictions for the future, the panelists used the example of potential changes to the format of the NCAA basketball tournament. Host took a firm stance against a move to 96 teams, saying, "To some degree it is about money, but sooner or later that issue has got to stop and we have got to think about the student athletes." Pilson echoed that money would drive the NCAA's final decision. He added he was concerned about ESPN's growing power in the sports business, saying the network has reached a point where it "can basically price out all of the broadcasters on any given negotiation." That could be a problem, Pilson added, because ESPN could decide "they don't need to spend any more money because they pretty have all the major properties that they need to have to maintain (their per home subsidy)."

-- Melody Huskey


VISA'S "GO WORLD" FOCUS OF "CAMPAIGNS IN THE SPOTLIGHT" CASE STUDY

Watch Visa's "First Canadian
Gold Medal" TV Spot

In the weeks since the Vancouver Olympics, Visa has determined that three of the 10 most-remembered and well-liked ads during the Games -- including the Dan Jansen spot that was the Olympics' best-performing ad -- were part of credit card company's "Go World" campaign. Discussing Visa's strategy and how creative partner TBWA\Chiat\Day, L.A., executed that strategy was the focus of the "Campaigns in the Spotlight" session at the IMG World Congress of Sports. Presenting the case study were Visa Head of Global Sponsorship Management Michael Lynch and TBWA Chief Creative Officer Rob Schwartz. Before the '08 Beijing Olympics, Visa took a pre-meditated risk by filming a commercial featuring Michael Phelps' achievement of 10 gold medals when he entered the Games with just six. After Phelps won the 200-meter butterfly to earn his tenth gold, Visa ran the spot during the ensuing commercial break. It was the first manifestation of what Lynch called "advertising at the speed of culture," and it became a staple of Visa's Vancouver strategy. Lynch said the Phelps moment also led to the notion of, "Let's not make ads; let's try to make news." Heading into the Vancouver Games, Visa already had prepared a slew of time-sensitive ads, including a memorable pre-Opening Ceremony spot that professed "at this moment, everyone is tied" and another ad congratulating Canada on its first Gold Medal on home soil.

IT'S A DIGITAL WORLD: Lynch said that 40% of Visa's total Vancouver spend was dedicated to digital media, and although he wouldn't reveal ROI specifics, he expressed confidence in this digital direction. Visa's Olympics advertisements have been watched more than 1.5 million times on YouTube, and a Facebook fan page highlighting the company's 33 sponsored Olympians reached six-digit fan levels. "We were making a special connection with consumers at the time. They were giving us real-time feedback," Lynch said. "It was a valuable lesson for us from a marketing standpoint - this whole social media phenomenon continues to explode." Each morning during the Games, the Visa team would review the previous day's tweets about the campaign and group them into positive, neutral and negative categories. Alluding to the positive tweets, Schwartz said, "For a brand, you're not paying for that media. You're earning that media." Schwartz, whose team worked on both the Beijing and Vancouver campaigns for Visa, described TBWA's cornerstones to advertising campaign success. Among them was the idea of connecting to the brand, and to help accomplish this, TBWA colored all Beijing commercials gold and all Vancouver commercials blue -- the two tones used in Visa's logo. The fact that these colors also correspond to the seasons during which the Games took place was a welcomed benefit. "We must connect Visa," Schwartz said. "What's the use of doing a great ad if people don't remember the brand's name at the end of it?"

-- Peter Simones


TEAMS INCORPORATING NEW TECHNOLOGIES AT VENUES TO MEET FANS EXPECTATIONS

Fan expectations that teams offer in-arena enhancements has pushed teams to incorporate new technologies into their venues, team and technology company executives said at a panel for the IMG World Congress of Sports titled "Making the Live Game Experience Meaningful and Relevant through Technology and Innovation." The panel included New Meadowlands Stadium Co. VP/Design & Construction Robert Jordan; Trail Blazers President Larry Miller; Heat Exec VP & CIO Tony Coba; Sharks President & CEO Greg Jamison; and MLB Giants Senior Vice President & CIO Bill Schlough. The panelists agreed that fans now expect enhancements to their in-arena experience beyond just watching the game. Coba said fans are looking to "engage the players. Just so they can feel the experience in ways that they can't in a one dimensional aspect or in a bar." Providing better instant replays within the arena is one way teams are working to provide fans with a better experience, said Schlough. Jamison agreed, adding, "Sometimes you have to convince your league that is is okay to show a replay. Because the people at home are going to see it 37 different ways from Sunday and I just paid a whole lot of money for this ticket and I have this incredible video board and I can't see the replay." The rapid pace of technological innovation has created new challenges for sports franchises planning new stadiums, Jordan said.

VANITY PLATES: Personalizing marketing messages for specific sponsors and specific events is a large part of the added value that technological innovations bring to a sports property. At the Rose Garden, Miller said, the Trail Blazers have the ability to offer advertising space to their sponsors on any of the 161 HD screens in arena, but also have the ability to use that same platform to broadcast a message from the team itself. Miller added, "We have been in the process of re-branding our team, re-branding our arena, re-branding our product. Technology and things that we have done inside our arena have played a big part of that." Branding is a focus of the New Meadowlands stadium, the only facility called home by two NFL teams. Every piece of the stadium is being built so that the Giants and Jets can each express the individual team brand, said Jordan, so that "within a 24 hour period the building becomes a completely different facility." Coba added that the ability of technology to transform a building between events is necessary considering most facilities are in use for concerts and events outside of sports. "We are immersing the customer from the moment that they arrive for the experience. Then once they get into the building, we have themed the entire building for the event." Jamison said that teams have to be careful not to put their desire to be technologically innovative above the quality of their sports product. He added, "We want it to coincide with and make a better experience, but not overshadow the (primary game) experience. If it is San Jose Sharks hockey, that still is the product and technology just makes it better."

PLANS BOTH BIG AND SMALL: At the new Meadowlands stadium, developers focused on incorporating technology components that allow the teams to capture data about fan behavior throughout every game. Jordan said, "Every electronic device in the building has an IP address and it all feeds databases." He added that the teams then can more accurately market to fans and find profit sources, something that is particularly effective when planning mobile initiatives. But Jamison believes the most important device for teams in the future will be mobile technology. He said, "Everything is moving to the cell phone, at least that is what I keep hearing in (Silicon Valley), and we want to be prepared to take advantage of that."

-- Melody Huskey


EXPERTS DISCUSS ECONOMY, TIGER WOODS DURING "SPORTS MARKETING ROUNDTABLE"

Woodward Stresses The Importance
Of Fresh Ideas In Sports Marketing

While the science of return-on-investment measurement is important, the ability to develop effective ideas remains the cornerstone of sports marketing, brand experts said yesterday during a panel at the IMG World Congress of Sports entitled “Sports Marketing Roundtable: Value, Partnerships and Returns.” MillerCoors VP/Marketing Services Jackie Woodward said, “At the risk of sounding heretical, the science is very important, but the reason all of us got into this business is because of the art. I don't want to lose the creativity, the ideas and the inspiration that bring sports to life for consumers because at the end of the day the ideas create momentum and the momentum does create sales. Ideas are what it's all about.” EPL club Arsenal Chief Commercial Officer Tom Fox agreed and added that every brand continues to try to quantify its sports investments against the objectives it sets, but the only way to understand the full effect is to analyze the collective affects of an activation from corporate morale to distributors to retailers to consumers. Fox said, “Results are what matter. If you've got good marketers who know what drive their business, who know which set of the consumer market they're talking to, who know exactly how they want to talk to them and what's going to work, you can put a variety of tactics in their and find success.” Callaway VP/Sports Marketing Nick Raffaele said that to achieve that marketers have to filter an array of ideas and possibilities and stay on task. He added, “The thing we talk about always is -- how does that line up against our ladder of objectives? If it doesn't fit and it's more of an idea, you just have to set off in an idea box and come back and use it later.”

Mater Says Red Bull Saw Sales
Increase Despite Down Economy

RIDING OUT THE RECESSION: The recession affected each of the panelists' businesses differently. Woodward said that Coors Light and MillerCoors took share last year; Fox noted the U.K. remains in a recession; Raffaele said Callaway trudged through without having to make major marketing cuts; and Red Bull Head of Sports Marketing Chris Mater said the energy drink's user base grew and its sales increased while its heavy users cut back on consumption. Woodward said the beer category is directly affected by unemployment, which among MillerCoors drinkers is more like 17% than 10%. But she said efficiencies that resulted from the merger between Miller and Coors helped the company gain share in a tough economy. Woodward: “The scale play we have been able to make in media defined 2009 for us.” Fox said that Arsenal hadn't been out in the market selling aggressively, which was probably a good thing because marketers in the U.K. are “probably a little more reticent to spend” right now. Raffaele said that Callaway outpaced competitors in the recession, but added that is “a bit like saying you're the tallest short person.” He did say the company's decision to cut its sports marketing in '05 and '06 as part of cost restructuring helped the division avoid making major sports marketing cuts '08 and '09. He said, “Our values were in line and we lowered some of our costs in athlete endorsement.”

Raffaele Says Tiger Situation Has
Not Affected Way He Signs Golfers

FALLING PRICES: The marketers said they have seen some declines in the pricing of sponsorships as a result of the recession and added that marketers are more focused on getting value out of their partnerships than in the past. Woodward said, “We are getting more selective about choosing those value for money propositions.” She said that searching for value led MillerCoors to partner with SI.com and Citizen Sports to advertise on a March Madness bracket, which didn't involve the NCAA but did allow the company to reach 2 million consumers. Mater said prices had dropped in the market because the “marketplace has less money and there's more inventory. Brands are wanting deeper experiences and the rightsholder are creating more opportunities.” Woodward said, “It used to be about what beer companies and brewers were willing to pay. Now it's about what we want to get for what we pay. That's all about driving retail and selling more beer.”

TALKING TIGER: Raffaele said Callaway was disappointed initially when the Tiger Woods scandal broke, but the company has since changed its mind. He added, “He's come back. Augusta is the season opener. There's a lot of pent up demand. Now we're looking at it as a positive. Tiger's going to come back and he's going to win.” He said the Woods fiasco hasn't effected how Callaway signs golfers. It continues to spend time with athletes and makes a decision based on its impression of the golfer's personality. Raffaele: “We spend an extensive amount of time making sure an athlete's align with ours. It's not foolproof. They're human and accidents happen.” Red Bull sponsors 110 athletes, and Mater said the company makes decision about who it endorses based on personality first and performance second. He added, “At the end of the day, we have a real simple thing. At the end of the day, they're going to open their mouth and if they open their mouth and they're a dick, that's not good. It reflects really badly for the brand.”

-- Tripp Mickle


YAHOO'S BARTZ DISCUSSES PAYWALLS, CITIZEN SPORTS NETWORK IN KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Bartz Feels Online Content Will
Remain Almost Entirely Free

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz Wednesday during a keynote address at the IMG World Congress of Sports said online content will remain almost entirely free, with the noted exception of some premium video content and specialized material, despite efforts by some mainstream media outlets to implement paywalls. "Free is clearly the future," Bartz said. "In our own case, after we dropped fees on fantasy (live scoring), our audience went up by double-digit percentages, and more than that, we saw improved engagement across Yahoo. It was something we agonized about initially, but it's been a really big insight not only to us but our advertisers." Bartz also discussed several prevailing trends now emerging online, including the growth of social media-related material and the deep personalization of the online experience, and used the forum, as expected, to formally announce Yahoo's acquisition of S.F.-based Citizen Sports Network. "This is an amazing company that's brought social relevance to the sports world," Bartz said of the Citizen Sports, brokered in large part by Yahoo VP/Media Jimmy Pitaro. "I am extremely happy this has happened." Like many others, Bartz said she sees continued improvement in the national economy at large and online advertising market specifically. But she added, "If Washington doesn't settle down, trying constantly to do this and do that, then the American consumer won't settle down."

-- Eric Fisher, 4:22pm ET


LABOR EMERGES AS KEY ISSUE EARLY AT IMG WORLD CONGRESS OF SPORTS

Goren Says Threat Of NFL Strike
In '11 Is His Number One Concern

Labor was the topic of choice Wednesday during the first roundtable discussion at the IMG World Congress of Sports, where panelists said possible work stoppages in MLS, the NFL and NBA will change network's television programming plans, influence corporate sponsorship spending and benefit sports properties that continue to operate. The panel included MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan; SCP Worldwide Chair Dave Checketts; Fox Sports President Ed Goren; IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne; and Majestic Realty Chair & CEO Ed Roski. MLS may be the first league to suffer a work stoppage if players go through with a threatened strike next week. Checketts said a work stoppage to any league is “devastating," and added, “Nobody wins. Everybody loses. The NBA and NFL have quite a road ahead.” Goren said a potential NFL strike is his number one concern. He said that he doesn't expect much resolution on the league's labor unrest until August '11 and added that Fox would likely fill its Sunday sports window with other sports programming if the NFL shut down. Pyne said marketers will have to make tough decisions as they plan their sponsorship activations in '11. He added, “Obviously, it's a risk for marketers as they make plans for 2011. You have to take that into consideration as you look forward.” But Pyne noted he will be watching what sports properties actual benefit from strikes in other leagues. “NASCAR clearly benefited in the 1990s when all the other sports had labor problems. There will be real winners. There will be real losers. Depending on where you it in sports, you have to figure out how that may help you and affect you.”

Roski Says The Cost Of Building
An NFL Stadium Is Skyrocketing

LAMENTING LABOR: Checketts said that the big issue in the backdrop is that there has been a lot of change in owners and players since recent work stoppages. He added, “These guys that are there now were not there in '99 when (the NBA) lost half a season. They weren't there in the '80s when we were at the table with players. They don't understand yet, in my view, how damaging (a work stoppage) can be. ... Those who haven't learned from the mistakes of the past are prone to repeat them.” Brosnan said that every labor agreement MLB ever made was about “people,” “relationships” and “getting the other side to trust you.” He believes that will be critical for the NFL as Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith negotiate their first deal together. Brosnan said, “What's going to be instructive for everyone is to watch these two ... try to build a relationship so that there's trust across the table because that's ultimately the bedrock for getting a deal done.” Roski said in the NFL there needs to be an appreciation for the costs owners have to pay to build the venues that create the revenue, and thus allow them to pay players. He added, “The costs of doing these things have skyrocketed. There has to be some way the league and the players can come to an agreement. You can't continue to raise the cost of club seats or suite.”

DRIVING NEW REVENUE: Brosnan said MLB's effort to drive new revenue is centered on the network it launched last year. MLB Network already is available in more than 50 million homes and MLB is still working to get carriage on AT&T and Dish Network, which would generate additional revenue. Looking ahead, Brosnan said the key question is how much game programming the network should air. He added, “One of the things we'll have an active discussion with television partners and ownership is just how robust a game programming piece we want to put on the network, and if we do that, we'll expect exponential growth on the revenue side from it.” Checketts said that the Winter Classic has shown the NHL and its owners that special events still offer new revenue opportunities. Checketts: "The special events still seem to create a stir and a tremendous amount of revenue. ... It creates a tremendous amt of interest around a winter-themed event.” Pyne said IMG is looking overseas in its effort to increase its revenue. He pointed to the agency's recent agreement with Reliance Foundation to construct IMG academies in India as an example.

Brosnan Feels MLB Network Helps
Promote Fox' Baseball Coverage

MIXING IT UP ON MEDIA: Goren expressed concern about the proliferation of league networks and the increases in Internet streaming of sports events. He said, “At some point, you're going to water down the value of your network or major television deal. At some point somebody's going to say enough. We're not going to pay you what we pay you. Find other ways to get that revenue.” He said the Verizon deal with the NFL and the NFL's Red Zone channels were examples of new agreements that damaged broadcasters. He added, “As more and more people go to a Red Zone, at some point there will be enough people watching a Red Zone as opposed to a game that's being aired in that market.” Goren said Internet streaming of live games is similar. He said it draws viewers away from the broadcasts that rightsholders are paying rights fees to attract, and as the computer becomes people's television, that will become a major issue. Goren: “If someone wants to stream that along with the live broadcasts so leagues can make more money, don't do that to us. ...You're taking money out of my pocket.” Brosnan challenged Goren, asking him how he felt about MLB's investment in a network that basically acted as an “infomercial” for Fox during the offseason. Brosnan said, “It never competes with you directly. It spends 365 days a year talking about baseball.” Goren replied, “There's some value in it whether it's the NBA, NFL or baseball. It's a great product but you're telling me it's great promotion for the sport and therefore it's great for Fox. I'm not so sure.”

GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM: The panelists all expressed skepticism that Internet streaming would provide real revenue to leagues and teams. Goren said it would be a long process, and Checketts said he was a “doubter.” Checketts said SCP Worldwide got “creamed” on its acquisition and effort to stream South American World Cup Qualifiers because the games were pirated everywhere. Checketts added, “We were powerless to do anything on this. We got killed.” Goren said the only way live streaming would work was if it took place during the day when people were stuck in the office. He added, “There's value there.”

EYEING INNOVATION: Brosnan said that the innovation he was watching most was the development of 3D televisions. He noted he had an appointment later in the day to review new televisions, and he was excited about the technology's potential because he felt it a 3D camera behind the plate could show viewers the type of speed and movement on a pitch. He added, “If we can make that translate better for the viewer, home run.” But Goren wasn't buying it. He said he just bought six HD TVs and doubted he would buy six 3D TVs any time soon. He added, “I'm convinced that as soon as I buy the 3D sets with the glasses, they'll release the 3D without the glasses.” Roski said he believes the most important innovation is how owners developed areas around stadiums. Pointing to L.A. Live as an example, he said, “How do we integrate other things into (stadiums and arenas) like L.A. Live? I think we need to be innovative in our physical plans, too.”

Pyne Says Changing Face Of U.S.
Bodes Well For Soccer

JUST AROUND THE CORNER: Goren said the Olympics were overpriced for the '10 and '12 Games and predicted that “unless the mouse steps up and pays them from that $4.50 she pays for ESPN, which she doesn't even know what it stands for,” the rights fees paid for the 2014 and 2016 Games would decrease. Goren said that NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol did a great job with the Vancouver Olympics, adding that the tape delay coverage was nothing more than something writers decided to write about. Goren: “Writers shouldn't get paid to write the same damn story again.” He said Ebersol “didn't hurt the Olympics, he helped the Olympics. He just paid too much.” Meanwhile, the audience said that ratings for the World Cup would be up this summer compared to '06, with 38% predicting ratings will increase significantly, 44% predicting they will be slightly higher, 14% predicting they will be flat and just 7% saying they will be down. Brosnan said that if the U.S. gets knocked out early the tune-in for whoever is in it will not be that great. He pointed to the Olympic men's hockey gold medal as an example and said the ratings were driven by nationalism. Brosnan: “It's all about the flag.” Checketts agreed that national pride meant a lot but disagreed with Brosnan that a U.S. exit from the World Cup would depress ratings. Checketts said, “This country has changed. The ethnic background and change in this country over what it used to be ... and it won't be what it would be but the World Cup if the U.S. goes out will still be a big deal.” Goren agreed, saying soccer's “time has come.” Pyne added “the changing face of America bodes well for soccer."  

-- Tripp Mickle, 4:19pm ET


CHECKETTS SAYS STRIKE WOULD BE "DEVASTATING" TO MLS, BUT IS AVOIDABLE

Checketts Feels Player Strike
Would Be "Devastating" To MLS

SCP Worldwide Chair Dave Checketts said a MLS player strike would be "devastating" to the league but he believes MLS owners and players will find a way to make a deal to avoid a work stoppage. Speaking on a panel at the IMG World Congress of Sports, Checketts said, “I'm hoping in the next few days cooler heads prevail and we find a way through this. I hope [players] understand the implications of a strike. It's not that they go out and come right back after missing one game. It's much more complicated than that. I've spoken to Commissioner Garber last night. I think we will find a way to make a deal. I think we will find a way to make a deal soon. But if there is a strike, I've been through it in the NHL and the NBA. To our owners, this will not be their first rodeo.” Players have threatened to strike next Tuesday if the MLS Players Union fails to agree to terms with MLS on a new CBA. Free agency remains the primary sticking point between players and the league, Checketts said. He added, “The league is built as a single entity and that single entity has allowed us to keep labor costs somewhat in check and even with those labor costs in check. This is not a money-making operation yet, so it is going to require more years of investing. We're still pioneers. We're not settling. It's not time for any sort of work stoppage.”

-- Tripp Mickle, 2:29pm ET


YAHOO CONTINUES DIGITAL SPORTS GROWTH WITH CITIZEN SPORTS PURCHASE

Yahoo has purchased Citizen Sports Network, continuing its marked expansion in scale and influence within the digital sports media industry. Company CEO Carol Bartz is slated to formally announce the deal today during her keynote address at the IMG World Congress of Sports presented by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. The deal seeks to expand Yahoo's profile within social media and on mobile devices, as Citizen Sports Network has engineered a highly successful march into Facebook and the iPhone and Android platforms following a major recalibration of its business model two years ago from its original roots as the niche-oriented fantasy operation ProTrade. Financial terms were not disclosed, but industry sources pegged the deal in the mid-eight-figure range. Yahoo purchased college sports and recruiting hub Rivals.com nearly three years ago for $98M. "This is a fantastic fit for Yahoo," said Yahoo VP/Media Jimmy Pitaro. "We're big on socializing our content and taking the Yahoo experience wherever users go, and Citizen Sports' assets fit perfectly into that. People have only a finite amount of time to spend online, and they're spending more and more of it on Facebook. This in part is a move to get at that." The deal is an outright acquisition of the company, meaning Yahoo will also gain Citizen Sports' thriving Sportacular mobile unit, itself a company Citizen Sports acquired nearly 18 months ago. Citizen Sports and its staff, led by CEO Mike Kerns and co-Founder Jeff Ma, will remain intact working out of its existing downtown S.F. offices. But company execs will remain in frequent contact with Yahoo headquarters in nearby Sunnyvale, California.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE: The purchase is also expected to hasten Citizen Sports' existing emphasis on international properties as the company has in recent months aggressively developed fan groups and fantasy games built around EPL and Spanish La Liga soccer, Indian professional cricket and other popular overseas sports entities. "Yahoo was one of the truly global properties out there. And given that Facebook and mobile are also truly global, we see the synergies as really obvious and very, very significant, and for us, a really exciting element of this," Kerns said. Citizen Sports' existing fantasy sports partnership with SI Digital, which also involved a sales component, will be re-evaluated following the closing of the transaction, expected in the second quarter of this year. "It's premature to say what will happen there. We've had no conversations with SI on that yet," Pitaro said. "But we'll take a fresh perspective, and we'd love to work something out." Yahoo will blend some of its fantasy games with those developed by Citizen Sports, as well as create ones, that will play on Yahoo, within Facebook, and on mobile, depending on user preferences. "We've obviously made some very big investments in fantasy games and fantasy content," Pitaro said, referencing in part partnerships with MLBAM, the NHL and PGA Tour, among others. "So we're developing a situation where a user can experience fantasy literally however they want and take that experience across the platforms."

-- Eric Fisher, 1:30pm ET


IMG WORLD CONGRESS OF SPORTS HOSTS SPECIAL VIP/SPEAKERS DINNER

WCOS Opens With VIP Dinner
At The Congo Room At L.A. Live

The IMG World Congress of Sports presented by SportsBusiness Journal/Daily held a speakers and VIP dinner last night at The Congo Room at L.A. Live. Guests included IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne; AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke; AEG Chair Phil Anschutz and his wife, Nancy; MLS Commissioner Don Garber; Fox Sports Chair David Hill; NHRA drivers Ashley and John Force; NFL CMO Mark Waller; Golden Boy Entertainment President Oscar de la Hoya; Visa Head of Global Sponsorship Management Michael Lynch; Majestic Realty Co. Chair & CEO Ed Roski; Proskauer Rose attorneys Howard Ganz, Joe Lecesse and Brad Ruskin; Bank of America Senior VP & Sports Sponsorship Exec Ray Bednar; and several members of the SBD/SBJ "Champions" program to be announced today – Basketball HOF and USA Basketball Chair Jerry Colangelo, Louisville Arena Authority Chair Jim Host, Pilson Communications President Neal Pilson and Ponturo Management Group CEO Tony Ponturo.

Speakers included U.S. bobsled Gold Medal winner Steven Holcomb, who talked about overcoming the challenge of undergoing a procedure to fix a degenerative eye disease in '08. That was followed by a monologue from comedian Tom Arnold.

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