SBJ/April 4-10, 2016/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40: How is your generation changing the sports industry?

We asked each of this year’s Forty Under 40:

How is your generation changing the sports industry?

Ken Babby: Sports has always been a catalyst to help bring communities together — almost nightly in baseball, for example. But now, we live in an ever-connected world with incredible technology and tools to extend that fan experience beyond ballparks. Technology has created an almost boundary-less relationship between fans and their teams. Understanding that loyal relationship and the power of how it has and will continue to change is deeply exciting.

Kim Beauvais: Social and digital media is changing the way we consume, comment on, and share all things we love about sports and the drama and emotion behind it. Sports is the only place where people will still watch it live and want to also interact with other fans at the same time. Finding new ways to share the best highlight, comment on controversy, and weigh in on what is happening at any given time gives consumers a way to engage with athletes, TV executives, team front-office staff, and venues that hasn’t existed to the extent it does today.

A MORE SOCIAL EXPERIENCE
Social media and new ways to consume information were cited by many of our Forty Under 40 executives when asked how sports is changing.

Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Yu-Han Chang: Broadcast TV is how billions of people have experienced sports in the last generation. We’re going to be bringing something new. We’re still figuring out exactly what that looks like, but one thing we know is that it’ll be very different. My bet is that personalization, interaction, immersion and intelligence all have big parts to play.

Aaron Cohen: Hopefully pulling back the curtain as much as possible. It makes it more interesting.

Russ D’Souza: My generation of entrepreneurs realizes that sports fans have an insatiable appetite for sports-related content. As a small example, an estimated 60 percent of Twitter traffic is related to sports. In order to engage sports fans around the clock, we need to reach them where they are: their smartphones. Whether it’s fans playing FanDuel and DraftKings on their phones, or high school athletes examining their performance in Hudl and Krossover’s apps, fellow entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the around-the-clock passion for sports. Ticketing plays a critical component in a $145 billion sports-consumption industry. The process of going to a live sporting event transforms fans; it deepens their affinity. Like fellow sports tech entrepreneurs, we’re focused on bringing that experience to the smartphone so that a user is never more than a few taps away from catching a game.

Shannon Dan: We are empowering women to pursue careers in sports, changing the face of the game. Whether on the field, on the sideline or in the boardroom, 2015 was a landmark year for women in sports and set the stage for continued advancement in the years and decades to come.

Adam Davis: Similar to what you’re seeing with players in traditional sports, we’re pushing the limits to evolve and take our business to the next level. Technology provides endless possibilities for how we can continue to grow.

Kevin Demoff: I think our generation believes fandom is not just game days but is now 365 days a year. As fans, we expect more interaction and accessibility from our teams, and as industry members, we are more focused on providing value and content to fans on a daily basis.

Anthony DiCosmo: The game has changed tremendously in a short time. In our generation, you can be an athlete, social influencer, entrepreneur, content creator and marketer all wrapped in one. Social media can give you direct access to millions of fans who are constantly engaged. That’s powerful. Fantasy sports and gaming is creating a consumer that may have never actually played a sport but can know more about strategy and stats than someone who plays the sport every day. That’s mind-boggling.

Hymie Elhai: By developing fan experiences that satisfy the consumer’s desire for immediate access to information and content.

Jaime Faulkner: There are so many more people sitting in front offices of teams that come from business backgrounds or corporate America. I think we’re starting to infuse some of the best business practices — one of those being driving business with analytics.

Todd Fischer: We are not content with good enough or the status quo. We are inspired by competition, creativity, the ability to make a positive difference, and the need to constantly evolve — whether as individuals, teams or organizations.

David Greenspan: More than any other, the sports industry is led by its younger members.

Al Guido: Through technology advancements on and off the field, court, ice, etc.

Christopher Halpin: Our generation is responsible for figuring out how to reach and engage the next generation of sports fans: the platforms, packaging and marketing to keep everyone 25-and-under actively consuming live sports content. It is both how the games are conducted and presented (length, graphics, storytelling) and how they are distributed (TV, OTT, mobile). Your expectations, attention span and consumption patterns are completely different if you have grown up with Facebook, YouTube and an iPhone. We have to adapt to it or we risk losing a generation of fans.

Rob Higgins: Through social media. I think now everybody has a much bigger platform to be able to share their story. I continue to be amazed daily with how our generation leverages technology to create awareness and engagement.

Jamie Horowitz: This is the first generation of sports fans who open Facebook before the newspaper every morning. The demand by sports fans to consume only the content they care most about has changed the type of content being produced and how it is being distributed.

Amy Huchthausen: We’re the bridge between “traditional” and millennials. We’re leaders in embracing the technological advances and changes in consumption, and then adapting and repositioning our business so it continues to be relevant for years to come.

Charlie Hussey: The use of social networks has without a doubt transformed how and when communication is delivered and consumed.

Zaileen Janmohamed: I’m very lucky to be in an environment now in sports business where data and analytics and business objectives and level of oversight and justification is just where it is.

Brian Kopp: We are the first generation to have mobile technology during our entire adult lives. Our reliance on smartphones during sporting events continues to change the way fans engage with sports — at the arena, at home and on the go.

Patrick Kraft: We are amidst an interesting time with so many ways to consume sports. Technology has allowed fans to be engaged in ways they have never been before. Our generation has the challenge to figure out how we adapt, monetize and grow with technology. There is no blueprint to handling this type of exposure and involvement.

Geoff Lester: We are challenging conventions with a data-first perspective but still believe relationships are paramount.

Chris Marinak: We are using numbers and analytics to make smarter and more rational decisions in all aspects of the business.

Kevin McSherry: The way sports are consumed is changing entirely. We have to adjust.

Bill Mulvihill: As the economic opportunities in sports explode, the sophistication of how teams drive revenue and extend their brand has never been higher. We are watching sports transform from just a game to a media and technology juggernaut.

Colin Neville: We now expect universal, instant access to content and data on every screen, which is forcing rights holders to rethink the definition of content and traditional distribution models.

Troup Parkinson: Incorporating new technology to bring more real-time data to fans in order to deepen the connection and overall experience.

Dana Rosenberg: It’s all about digital and figuring out the multiple screens.

Richard Rubano: My generation has grown up consuming media across various platforms, often on-demand. We understand both the “live” draw of sports events and the need for constant access to content — which I think is reshaping the manner in which the sports industry relates to consumers.

Paul Saville: It’s not necessarily our generation that’s changing the industry; it’s more a change in sports consumption and interaction in general, driven by new technologies and social platforms that have become an indispensable part of everyday life. Our generation of the industry is merely embracing these platforms and tools to use them to enhance the way people are able to consume and interact to a whole new level with the sports they love.

Connor Schell: Through access and storytelling.

Chris Schlosser: Adoption of new media and technology.

Russell Silvers: Simply put: through technology. (There has been) a fundamental change in how the fan experiences a sporting event. From how tickets are purchased, how an event is watched, beacon technology, rewards platforms, and through data/analytics, technology is changing the sports and entertainment industry on a global scale.

Julie Sobieski: We’ve felt the ground move beneath our feet so many times that we’re constantly challenging linear thought. We lead by dreaming about and innovating for what’s next, not for what’s now.

Ryan Tollner: The biggest changes are how social and digital media and fantasy sports have completely altered the way people are entertained by sports, for better and worse.

David Weiss: Technology and diversity. We’re the first generation that, for most of our lives, both were a norm. These are two of the most important drivers of positive change in the sports industry today.

Amy Yakola: We are a technology-centric generation, which influences how we consume information. As a result, there is a shift in the way sports is presented across multiple and expanding platforms.

Mike Zavodsky: The engagement with fans/the audience, and the shift toward an activation- and experiential-based partnership platform.

Tim Zulawski: We bring the work-hard mentality of older generations with a keen focus on the value we are providing to our organization, fan/customer and ourselves/loved ones.

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