SBJ/March 26-April 1, 2012/Facilities

Expansion of video boosts Penguins’ new media revenue

Don Muret
The Pittsburgh Penguins have seen a significant uptick in new media revenue after launching an online initiative with media sponsors Clear Channel Pittsburgh and Trib Total Media.

The Penguins developed a new syndication program in February that provides their two media partners with an embedded Penguins video player that drops into their websites. The video player automatically plays sponsor-branded Penguins content every time a page containing a Penguins article is loaded on those two sites, said David Peart, the NHL team’s senior vice president. The mute button is on by default to make for a “positive user experience,” Peart said. The same video player is also on the Penguins’ home page.

An embedded Penguins video player appears on team and media partner sites.
For February, the Penguins saw about 2.6 million “video starts” on the three websites and on the team’s mobile application for iPhones and Android devices, an increase of more than 200 percent over February 2011. At that point, there were 839,000 video starts on the team’s website and a “small fraction” on mobile applications, Peart said.

Video starts refer to partial and completed views of video content, and are the measurements the Penguins use to sell 15-second pre- and post-roll advertisements in the videos and sponsorship of the content itself, Peart said.

Clear Channel Pittsburgh broadcasts the Penguins games on radio. Trib Total Media, whose flagship is the Tribune-Review newspaper, is a founding partner at Consol Energy Center.

To date, the Penguins have seen an increase of 40 percent to 45 percent in revenue with the new media program over last year, which consisted then of some basic locker room interviews. Most of the team’s video content was tied to a 30-minute weekly highlight show on the Root Sports Pittsburgh RSN.

Low ratings for the television show prompted the Penguins to discontinue the production after last season, Peart said.

IN THE GAME: Peyton Manning’s move to the Denver Broncos should provide a big spike in business for Gameday Merchandising, the team store operator at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The blockbuster signing of Manning, coupled with Nike taking over as the NFL’s official retail supplier, could have Gameday’s cash registers at the stadium ringing consistently during the offseason, said Gameday President Alan Fey.

Last Monday, one day before the star quarterback officially signed with the Broncos, Fey was busy contacting licensees such as Nike and Majestic to line up new retail products tied to Manning’s arrival in Denver. Gameday officials expected to have a limited number of authentic Manning jerseys for sale last Wednesday. Those jerseys were leftovers from Reebok, the NFL’s outgoing retail partner, with Gameday completing the marks, according to Fey.

Reebok’s deal expires at the end of March, said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. Nike’s agreement with the NFL does not take effect until next month, with a launch date of April 26 for Nike replica jerseys, the first day of the 2012 NFL draft, Fey said.

Elsewhere for Gameday, three of its four NBA clients are headed for the playoffs, and the Florida Panthers, its lone NHL account, were in first place last week. Throw in the Manning factor, and “for us, it could be a phenomenal second quarter,” Fey said.

ON HIS OWN: Veteran sports architect Dan Meis has split from Populous, 18 months after he joined the firm in September 2010.

Meis has formed his own practice, called Meis, and will continue to be based in Los Angeles. Meis continues to work on the Sports City complex in Qatar, which includes a stadium for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He also remains involved in Majestic Realty’s proposed $800 million NFL stadium in suburban Los Angeles.

Meis declined to comment on his departure from Populous but said he could still partner with his former employer on future sports projects.

In a statement, Populous senior principal Joe Spear said, “Over the course of Dan’s 18 months at Populous there was a gradual realization on Dan’s part that his career interests were not fully aligned with the firm’s direction [and he] concluded that a separate path is best for all concerned. We … look forward to opportunities for collaboration.”

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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