SBJ/June 3-9, 2013/Media

FS1 Twitter feed to feature advertisers

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When Fox Sports launches FS1 in August, advertisers will have the opportunity to buy into the network’s Twitter feeds, thanks to a deal Fox Sports signed with the social media company at the end of March.

Fox Sports has been testing the system for several months and expects to start ramping it up in full when FS1 launches on Aug. 17.

Ford sponsored Champions League Twitter highlights as part of a test earlier this year.
Fox Sports also plans to make a big advertising push with Twitter around its Super Bowl programming, though its executives would not offer specifics about how that push would look. Fox holds the rights to next year’s game, which will be played in New York/New Jersey.

As part of the deal, Fox and Twitter will co-sell sponsored highlights, sponsored trends and promoted accounts, splitting revenue evenly. No money changed hands as part of the deal.

The main part of the deal, at least early on, will include sponsored highlights that will be embedded in tweets from Fox Sports’ Twitter handles.

Currently, Fox has the rights to embed video highlights in tweets from a handful of leagues and conferences, including the Pac-12, Big 12, Big East and UFC. It also plans to use sponsored highlight tweets alongside its soccer programming, including the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

While Fox Sports has tested these tweets earlier this year — Ford sponsored Champions League Twitter highlights from Fox Soccer — the network has not signed any sponsors since cutting the Twitter deal in March.

The deal is similar to the one that ESPN signed with Twitter last year, which led to embedded highlight tweets for World Cup and college football games, plus the X Games. These types of deals are part of an overall effort by media companies to make money off social media.

“Advertisers are asking for social,” said Marla Newman, senior vice president of sales for Fox Sports Digital. “Everybody wants a piece of it. They want to be part of the conversation that we have with our fans.”

Fox Sports’ social media strategy includes more than just sponsored highlights in tweets. It also looks to build sweepstakes and advertising programs around social media platforms. Newman specifically referenced a program it operated last NFL season with Samsung called “In the Booth with Mike Pereira.” The program featured Pereira answering tweets and overseeing a “You Make the Call” sweepstakes. Both Fox Sports and Samsung were happy enough with it that they plan to try something similar this season, Newman said.

“We believe that it’s important for us to extend the relationship that our fans and our advertisers have with our brand and our talent on air and deepen that relationship,” Newman said. “Social is enabling that in real time.”

While this deal is focused on Twitter, Newman said Fox Sports is exploring selling sponsorships across other social media sites. Its channels have accounts set up with Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, Newman said, and the network is looking for ways to best use those sites.

“We believe that it’s important for us to extend the relationship that our fans and our advertisers have with our brand and on-air talent,” Newman said. “We’re constantly cognizant from a selling standpoint on how we keep it organic and bring that advertiser in, in the best way possible, so that they are enhancing the conversation.”

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