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June 11, 2014 08:50 AM
Next Gen Premium Products
Brian Basloe, Brooklyn Nets/Barclays Center
Mike Burch, Speedway Motorsports
Todd Lambert, Detroit Lions
Mike Ondrejko, Legends Global Sales
SLUMPING SUITES: There was one area in which the four-person panel was in complete agreement: large, 30-seat suites are becoming more difficult to sell and manage in this era. “People are concerned about the sense of waste,” said Basloe. “The other issue is the work to distribute 30 tickets for every game and event.” As a result, many organizations are moving to smaller models for premium seating products. At Ford Field, where there are 132 suites (115 of them on the south side of the stadium), the Detroit Lions will repurpose some suites so that there is a total of 90. That leaves room to develop theater boxes or mini-suites, 4- to 8-seat spaces with access to deluxe eating spaces and other fan-friendly opportunities. “Coming to a Lions game or one of the big events at Ford Field is more than a three-hour experience,” said Todd Lambert, vice president of ticketing for the Detroit Lions. “A lot of teams have the concept of providing a club or bar for fans to get to early, then a lunch or dinner pre-game at a common dining space before going to your suite for the game. That’s where we’re hoping to go to now.” For the Jacksonville Jaguars, Legends is developing 20 poolside cabanas, with a lounge area, cushioned furniture and TVs. “We took input from the marketplace,” said Mike Ondrejko, COO of Legends Global Sales. “We’re confident the cabana concept is going to be an absolute home run.”
ON PIT ROAD: You cannot get closer to the action than the premium experience that Speedway Motorsports is providing at its eight race tracks. Speedway Motorsports venues have “Pit Road” suites. “You’re literally looking over the show of the pit crew manager,” said Mike Burch, vice president of national sales and marketing for Speedway Motorsports. Speedway Motorsports also sells passes to Victory Lane. It’s a $99 add-on to the price of the ticket so fans can be near the celebration and award ceremony. Burch praised the accessibility of NASCAR drivers such as Kevin Harvick, who conducts Q-and-A sessions hours before some races and greets fans who have paid for the experience. “It’s not like LeBron James is going to be willing to sign autographs minutes before a big game,” said Burch.
Lambert, on Ford Field: “The stadium is 12 years old, so it’s time for a refresh. Three key areas for us: expand the fan experience, diversify the product line, and improve aesthetics.”
Basloe, on cooperation from team operations: “The buy-in from team ops is very important. Pat Riley spoke at an NBA TMBO event recently. When Pat Riley is heading panels on how team ops can help new business, we’ve entered a new frontier.”
Ondrejko, on a vital market for premium services: “There is a market for young, successful professionals to have a more social environment. Premium buyers love those opportunities.”
Burch, on venue evaluations: “One of the biggest challenges is, how do you look at your building in a new way? Especially if it’s a building that has been around for a while. I like bringing in people to have a new set of eyes and tell me what can be different.”
June 10, 2014 05:17 PM
June 10, 2014 03:02 PM
Using Fan Profiles and Analytics
Josh Brickman, Monumental Sports
Kenny Farrell, Arizona Diamondbacks
Kevin O'Toole, Cleveland Cavaliers
Anthony Perez, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic have been a first-mover in this space, and VP/Business Strategy Antony Perez said, “We are focused a lot on trying to personalize predictive analytics. We are looking at likely renewals, new buyers or lapsed buyers. Then we think about how do we turn those into campaigns that are streamlined, so that once a person takes an action, it turns into an individualized message from us. In terms of using all our data and being smart and targeted, we always call it being more like Amazon.com. They have specific data and we want to be like that.” Diamondbacks Senior Director, Business Strategy and Operations, Kenny Farrell outlined the size and the scope of his group. “If you go back three years, I was overseeing a CRM department,” he said. “But now we’ve turned into an analytics team, adding staff and skill sets, and so that’s been a transformation.” His analytics staff has grown to four, with, in addition to him, one person serving as manager of business strategy, a CRM analyst with a Sequel background and a statistician with a math background.
PROGRAM SUCCESS: In talking about successful programs this year, Josh Brickman, Directory, Strategy and Analytics for Monumential Sports and Entertainment, said, “One of the new programs we did this year was using Google AdWords, and 80 percent of the buyers that came through that were new buyers. They were searching for tickets. We had different ad types and different ad copy that we tested and we found very good success from people who were looking for our games. It wasn’t as successful for the Capitals as it was for the Wizards. The Caps were more established, but the Wizards had some new fans, and it was very successful for us to reach new fans.” Perez noted that one effective measure of name capturing was the team’s wifi portal in the venue. Fans are asked to sign up voluntarily on the portal, and the organization added almost 60,000 names to its database from people voluntarily adding their personal information. Perez said they will do soft outreach to this group, but “it’s been a really rich data set for new people.” The D’Backs’ Farrell believes the team’s mobile app is also a strong product to data capture names in the venue, where fans are signing in. Meanwhile, asked about investments into such research, Perez noted the advantage he has in handling analytics for the business and the basketball side. “It’s helped that investments have been enterprise wide,” he said. “It hasn’t just been focused on one area, but it benefits across the entire organization. That’s helped us make a more significant investment.”
June 10, 2014 02:36 PM
As the news broke that the Knicks would name Derek Fisher coach, many in the media weighed in on what the hiring means for not only Phil Jackson and the rest of the organization, but also for the future of coaching in the NBA. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said, "All the old-school coaches out there, their days are numbered. You’re seeing young coaches get hired, people moving in a different direction, bringing on guys who have limited experience, relatively younger. It’s a new day, a new age in the world of the NBA” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 6/10). Kings G Jason Terry said there is a "trend" in the NBA now with "guys that have finished playing go right to the bench" ("Fox Sports Live," FS1, 6/9). ESPN’s Mike Golic said, “He’s like a pawn in this one, is he not? He’s coming in as a head coach, but he’s going to take his direction from Phil Jackson. … Most coaches that go in, they get to do their thing. Derek Fisher is not going to get in to do his thing" (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 6/10).
MOMENT OF ZEN: NBA TV’s Sam Mitchell said of Jackson, “It’s not that he didn’t want a guy with experience. He wants a guy that knows him, that knows his system, that’s played for him, that he’s comfortable with. That’s going to be comfortable for Phil to come down or call him up to his office and go over certain situations with him" (“NBA Gametime,” NBA TV, 6/9). ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy said it is "going to be different when you're transitioning from being the teammate to being a head coach" but Fisher is "going to fall back a lot onto how Phil Jackson sees the game and he'll teach it as such." Van Gundy added, "I think Phil Jackson will be wise enough to allow him room to develop and grow" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/9). CBS Sports Network’s Seth Davis: “I don’t think anybody expects Derek Fisher to rescue the franchise. If they do, let me be the spoiler for you, it isn’t going to happen” (“Rome,” CBSSN, 6/9).
IT'S A HARD KNOCKS LIFE: CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb said, “I wish ‘Hard Knocks’ would let us in Cleveland.” But the net’s Tony Luftman called Browns coach Mike Pettine’s "approach" to not appear on the series "a wise and pragmatic one” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/9).
BUT I REALLY LIKE RADIO CITY: NFL Network’s Damon Amendolara, on the NFL Draft switching locations: “I think there’s a split here. A lot of people love the idea of it coming to their town, but others say, ‘It works so well in New York. There’s a real sizzle there. Do we really want to see this go?’” (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 6/10).
June 10, 2014 01:48 PM
Look Ahead: The Ticketing Biz
Susan Cohig, NHL
Cole Gahagan, Ticketmaster
Samuel Gerace, Veritix
Bryan Perez, AEG
Mark Plutzer, MLB Advanced Media
TIGHTENING THE TICKET WINDOW: When asked what he’s focused on, Ticketmaster EVP Cole Gahagan stressed the changing dynamic of the ticket sales calendar, and reducing the amount of time between when schedules are released and tickets subsequently go on sale, thereby providing more opportunity to capitalize on pent-up fan demand. “The conversations we are having right now are around time,” he said, “and are more related to what the on-sale looks like in the future, with the respect of schedule releases. What we are finding is, the on-sale is a complete misnomer. You are always on-sale. We see, in looking at data, a massive sales spike around certain events year after year, right when leagues publish their schedule. We are starting to challenge the teams and leagues to close the gap of when you go on sale and when the schedule is released, and I think you will see a change in that practice, with more teams taking advantage of that opportunity.”
Veritix CEO Sam Gerace said that all the information consumers provide should help strategy. “Fans are busy expressing their preference every day on your device,” he said. “Consumers can express their preferences even before inventory goes on sale, and that can impact our pricing and strategy. On-sale has been transformed. Instead of using a limited set of information to establish your plans, we can have fans express their preferences, do advance reservations or hold their place in line, and so teams can be armed with all this information before it’s introduced. There is great opportunity in advance of the on-sale.”
NHL SVP/Business Affiars and Marketing Susan Cohig added, “You can have a continual conversation with the consumer. What about parking? What about merchandise? So one can cycle through all these opportunities to increase revenue, and so there are a thousand different ways we can connect with fans before they even enter the door.”
BULLISH ON IBEACONS: Panelists all believe in the value and the promise of iBeacon technology, but each stressed that the next step is making the data more actionable, and more specifically targeted to individual fans. Perez said AEG is “very bullish” on beaconing, that it has invested in a beacon technology and will be conducting a trial of it next month in the Staples Center. Perez did stress that the offers conveyed through beacons have to become more sophisticated. “Right now there is a very generic messaging to beacon-ing,” he said. “‘There’s a concession stand. There’s a beer stand.’ But you have to get more granular than that. If the phone is buzzing in your pocket, it has to be something good.” MLBAM VP/Ticketing Mark Plutzer added, “It’s about getting the right message to the right customer at the right time. We are making sure it’s working and getting the information flow going. But we can really build on this to get really rich messaging, and some great opportunities. You want to understand where the customer is moving throughout the ballpark and having them raise their hand to say, ‘I’m here,’ and you can service that. You really need to deliver a message that’s appropriate to them.”
Perez and others were very bullish on taking the iBeacon information outside the ballpark to create more year-round fan engagement. Perez: “This could be a huge sales opportunity. You could go to an advertiser and talk about all the fan behaviors in and out of the ballpark. … But we have to get it right. It starts slowly, but we’re going to be back here in two years and we’re going to be blown away by the information we’re going to be getting from these customers.” Gerace stressed that sponsors will be out front with beacon networks related to teams that they work with, so that a person walking by a bank could get a message of a special ticket or merchandise offer they could take advantage of just by walking in the door. Gerace: “It’s an immense opportunity that is selling itself.”
Asked what type of CRM technology they are still seeking, Perez said, “It’s, Who are you with? Who is in your group? I don’t know whether the person who purchases tickets is the one who went, or was it someone else. The more that we can drive electronic and mobile ticketing, the better, because that transfer really tells us who is in the building. … Any technology that could triple my database overnight is going to be pretty interesting.”
Gerace, on what he’s spending a lot of time on: “What experience a fan wants. Getting a fan to express what experience the fan wants so we can address that.”
On trends in youth consumption, Cole said, “Friction is a massive deterrent to engagement and purchase with the younger generation. So the goal is to remove as much friction as you possibly can. It’s going to happen predominately on the mobile channel, so what we’re trying to do is get them in, show them what they want as quickly as you can, allow them to transact very quickly, and then get them out. That’s what they want.”
June 10, 2014 12:36 PM
June 10, 2014 09:00 AM
■ Pittsburgh hiring Jim Rutherford as general manager.
■ NBC's ratings success with the Stanley Cup Finals.
■ Reviving the World Cup of Hockey and what that means for the Olympics.
■ And the NHL is on the way to adding $1 billion in revenue by 2015.
June 9, 2014 03:52 PM
California Chrome co-Owner Steve Coburn, on his apology for comments following the Belmont Stakes: “I wanted so much for this horse to win the Triple Crown for the people of America and I was very emotional. … (But) it's a learning process for us and I'm going to do better. I'll promise you I'll do better" ("GMA," ABC, 6/9). Sports talk radio host Dan Patrick, on Coburn: “He picked the wrong time to wage his crusade and he embarrassed himself and took a great story and made it bad” (“The Dan Patrick Show," 6/9).
COLLEGE TRY: CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford said of the Ed O'Bannon case, "When it got started five years ago, there was a suggestion this was going to be Armageddon, this was going to be the last great battle between good and evil and that if the NCAA lost, they'd be out of business and it would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars. It hasn't worked out that way" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 6/9).
TAKING INVENTORY: MLB Network’s Mark DeRosa, on the Giants’ commitment to P Tim Lincecum despite his performance declining in recent years: “Whether it is Hunter Pence, (Pablo Sandoval) or Tim Lincecum, how much money do they generate just in the sale of their products, their jerseys and hats and everything? That's part of the issue” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 6/8).
MOVING PARTS: ESPN’s Adam Schefter said of the NFL possibly moving the Draft, “It will be a big surprise if it was in New York in any capacity” (“NFL Insiders,” ESPN, 6/6).
GENERIC BRAND: ESPN’s Pablo Torre said of Texas A&M, Northwestern and Arizona selling generic jerseys with no numbers or player names, “It’s the second-most obvious thing they could after not having the ability to profit off of the actual likeness of a player in a video game” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/6).
June 9, 2014 09:00 AM
June 6, 2014 11:08 AM
LOS ANGELES — News and notes from four days at the Stanley Cup Final …
■ There will be a World Cup of Hockey in August and September of 2016. It will be sanctioned by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association, which will divide a possible $100 million in revenue from the tournament. The event does not need to be sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet has reported that the entire 2016 World Cup of Hockey will take place in and around Toronto. Based on Chris’s reputation, his report is as good as gold. Expect an announcement close to the start of the 2014-15 season.
NHL Wrap-Around Podcast:
Christopher Botta and Alex Silverman discuss the week's hockey news before the start of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals
■ NHL COO John Collins before Game 1, on the blessing of a Los Angeles-New York Stanley Cup Final: “It’s the entertainment capital of the world against the media capital of the world. It’s the top two markets in the U.S. It’s two very good hockey markets trending into great hockey markets. If you want to know why this is good for hockey, try to get a look at who’s in the suites tonight.”
■ Of all the variations of “Go Kings Go” signs fans have posted in front of homes, businesses and facilities throughout Los Angeles and surrounding neighborhoods, the best was the marquee in front of a Methodist church. “It reads, “God Saves Souls, Quick Saves Goals.”
■ Stick Tap: To the Kings’ Twitter feed, @LAKings, which just keep getting better — not just with the comedy, but with content.
Islanders Sale Update (or Non-Update)
In on- and off-the-record discussions with high-level NHL executives who would know, the unanimous feedback was that an Islanders sale from Charles Wang to Andrew Barroway or anyone else is not close. In a one-on-one interview, Commissioner Gary Bettman made that clear with The Shift. When asked if a sale announcement was being delayed until the completion of the Stanley Cup Final, Bettman said “Absolutely not. There isn’t anything to announce.”
In his formal press conference on Wednesday, Bettman added of Wang, “He is continuing to consider his options and decide what he wants to do. I don’t think he’s reached a firm conclusion yet as to whether or not he wants to sell, sell it all, sell a piece. Until he does, none of us will know what the ownership situation will be. He’s not under any pressure to do it. I think on an emotional level he’s trying to come to grips with what he wants to do, particularly with the impending move to Brooklyn.”
By the Numbers
28: New York-area newspaper writers — representing a total of eight newspapers — who traveled to Los Angeles to cover Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
5: Celebrities in Gary Bettman’s suite for Game 1: actors Jon Hamm, Ellen Page, Catherine Keener, Kate Bosworth and film director Spike Jonze. Among other stars at the game: Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, Larry David, broadcaster/Kings season-ticket holder Al Michaels and bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
10,000: Estimated attendance at New York’s Bryant Park, which was packed to capacity for a viewing party of Game 1.
4.78 million: Total viewership on NBC for Game 1. The game was No. 1 across broadcast and cable television with viewers between 18 and 49 years old. The game also drew 2.46 million on CBC in Canada.
7.1: The local rating in Los Angeles for Game 1, up from a 4.2 when the Kings faced the Devils in Game 1 of the finals in 2012, proof that the fan base is growing in Los Angeles, a vital market for the NHL. (The game earned a 10.1 in New York — the best-ever rating for the NHL on NBC/NBCSN in that market.)
And Finally …
We’ll have more coverage from the Stanley Cup Final — including a look inside the Kings’ executive staff’s preparations for Game 1, along with news on NHL financials and event plans — in SportsBusiness Journal on Monday.