SBJ/April 3 - 9, 2006/World Congress Of Sports

Lauer: Solving digital rights issues a key to wireless revolution

One-on-One: Len Lauer, Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel COO Len Lauer told an interviewer that content rights and digital rights management is a key hurdle to the company’s distribution of sports content via wireless services.

Sprint Nextel has content and sponsorship deals with NASCAR, the NFL and other sports properties. Lauer told a full ballroom in New York that digital rights management is “a potential hurdle that’s in the way of enabling new distribution for a lot of fans in sports.”

“Understand that there are issues for leagues, for owners of the franchises, for content providers and for us, the service providers,” Lauer said. “I think we have proven, and sports franchises have proven, that the more you can open up distribution to the fans, the stronger your brand affinity is going to be to your team and also to your league. We need to get these distribution rights issues solved. … We’ll probably charge too much in some areas, sometimes maybe not enough, but we’ll find the right balance.”

Lauer called NASCAR “a great success story for us.”

“We now have over 700,000 unique new customers who have come to us through the Nextel push-to-talk service that when surveyed, ‘Why did you come to Nextel? Why do you stay with Nextel?’ their No. 1 reason is NASCAR,” he said. “That’s the great fan loyalty of NASCAR. Everyone knows that story, and it’s worked out well for us.”

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