• Video Bursts from World Congress of Sports

    We're using the Burst app to showcase attendees, speakers and exhibitors at this week's World Congress of Sports. 

  • BBDO’s Lubars on honest marketing and why sports is great for brands

    BBDO Worldwide Chief Creative Officer and BBDO North America Chair David Lubars sat down for a morning one-on-one session during the first day of the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports. Lubars’ work has included sports-related creative for brands such as Snickers, Guinness, AT&T, Visa, Diet Mountain Dew and Foot Locker.

    Here are a few quick hits from the session:

    On how the consumer has changed: “The consumer used to be a victim. Creative was designed by brands behind a curtain. Now, consumers can flip away whatever they don’t want to see. They look at a lot of things at the same time. They also understand marketing incredibly well. They all talk in jargon. Very sophisticated. They just want marketing to be transparent and honest and authentic. … The truth was the only thing that ever worked. … Leaders are now becoming more comfortable where the consumer actually shapes the brand.”

    On why sports creative tells a good story for brands: “If you look at what makes the human animal go, it is competition and to be incentivized. That’s why communism was such a disaster. You need to be rewarded and recognized for accomplishment. Sports crystallizes that. It’s dramatic. It’s exciting. It’s entertaining. And it happens live and it’s visceral. So sports marketing is very important, as long as you do it right, which is with quality and creativity and not being a shill.”

    On the use of athletes in creative after Tiger Woods: “We have analytics and metrics that show beyond a doubt that people love athletes. Tiger’s problem was not what he did. A lot of athletes have done far worse. His problem is that he’s not fun. Today’s audience wants athletes to be able to make fun of themselves, and that’s just not his personality.”

    On making entertaining vs. effective creative: “It has to be rooted in a strategic idea that really is true to the brand. What we’ve found is that the same pieces that end up being entertaining are also effective. To do it right, it really takes both.”

    Tags: BBDO WorldWide, North America, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports
  • Garber: Problems around Qatar World Cup could be ‘monumental disaster’ for soccer

    Garber hopes that "FIFA can resolve this in a way that's good for the sport."

    MLS Commissioner Don Garber said the decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup and the potential that the event may have to move from summer to winter because of weather was a “monumental disaster” for soccer worldwide. He added that he hopes the event is moved.
    “We certainly would be happy to host it here and have a lot of big stadiums that could turn it around and host on very short notice,” said Garber, who spoke on the opening panel of 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports. “But we’re going to be on the sidelines on this and hope that FIFA can resolve this in a way that’s good for the sport.”
    Garber’s comments followed a question about reports claiming that former FIFA executive committee member Jack Warner took $1.2 million in bribes from a Qatari group prior to FIFA’s vote to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup. FIFA is investigating the allegations.
    “That now is going to get a lot more legs,” Garber said. “If more comes out, who knows what happens. It’s very disappointing. It’s an unpleasant aspect of the global football business.”
    Garber said the uncertainty around when the 2022 Qatar World Cup would be held “is a very difficult situation for our sport.”  There’s talk that it could be in November of 2021 or January of 2022.
    “Their broadcast partners here might have a problem with it going up against (NFL) football,” Garber said. “It affects all of us for many, many years.” 

    Tags: Soccer, MLS, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports, FIFA
  • An end to rising rights fees? Panel says, ‘No way’

    In the never-ending debate over whether sports rights have peaked, rightsholders remain bullish that their TV revenue will continue to rise.
    During the opening panel of the 2014 World Congress of Sports, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President Tim Leiweke said cable and satellite distributors said 15 years ago that sports rights had hit a ceiling, but “it’s just not true.”
    “Today we live in a world where the most valuable programming of all is that unpredictable, live event,” Leiweke said. “Because we’re unpredictable, because no one knows what’s going to happen, our rights are going to continue to explode. The whole world now is our market, not just North America.”
    MLS Commissioner Don Garber said that his league has just negotiated a rights increase of more than 50 percent from TV broadcasters. He declined to name the broadcasters because the deals haven’t been signed, but MLS reportedly is finalizing an 8-year deal with Fox and ESPN that will pay it more than $70 million a year.
    “The consumer is changing,” Garber said. “They’re younger. They’re coming into being influencers, and not necessarily going into households that are paying for cable the way the vast majority of households are today. I don’t know where it looks 20 or 25 years from now, but it’s going to continue to grow.”

    NASCAR CEO Brian France said not much can reverse the recent increases in rights fees because most of the rights in North America have been locked up for the next decade. Only the NBA and Big Ten have rights deals up for negotiation in the next few years.
    “Things are settled, and the more digital we become, the more platforms we extend out in clever ways, the very valuable appointment viewing program just gets better,” France said. “As long as the world gets bigger and … sports is still the one thing you can’t miss live, we’re in good shape.”
    Google/YouTube Global Sports Head Claude Ruibal said that as long as the number of distribution platforms expands, the rightsholders will continue to have the upper hand in negotiations. He noted that properties like to say that they have met with Google about their rights, even though Google has no plans to compete with traditional broadcasters for rights.
    “I keep trying to pitch that we’re just a distribution platform and not a buyer of content,” Ruibal said. He added that “for now” the company won’t be at the table for NBA or Big Ten rights.
    Leiweke said that he hasn’t seen the rights situation change for more than a decade and doesn’t think it will change in the next decade either. “One thing’s consistent,” he said. “For 15 years, sports teams have said the rights fee are going to go way up. For 15 years, the networks and distributors have said they won’t. And for 15 years, the sports teams have been right.” 

    Tags: World Congress of Sports, MLS, Fox, ESPN, NFL
  • Dolan: Power To The People

    The biggest story in the sports world lately has been the Knicks’ hiring of Phil Jackson as team President. Knicks Owner James Dolan drew mixed reactions when he said during Jackson’s introductory press conference that he was going to leave basketball-related decisions to Jackson. Dolan attempted to reiterate this while making the rounds on N.Y. radio stations yesterday. He said, "The way that I manage is that I try to empower the people underneath me. They bring me a plan for the year or a longer term plan and we agree on it, we agree on the goal. They're the ones with the strategy. I'm the one with the checkbook.” Dolan said of how expensive it is to attend Knicks games despite his announcement they would not raise ticket prices, "I'm not the creator of the economics of NBA basketball. But I think that the NBA and the Knicks have to figure out a way for us to be able to get basketball to that family (who wants to attend).” Dolan, on being liked by the fan base: “I know what my job is. I know what I have to do. I go about doing it. You're not going to be liked by everybody. If your goal is to be liked by everybody I don't think you're going to do such a good job because you will worry more about that than making the right decision" ("The Michael Kay Show," YES, 3/18).

    SAY WHAT? FS1’s Trevor Pryce, on Dolan’s admission that he is not an expert in basketball: “Even if you don’t know what is going on and you are the owner of the New York Knicks … fake it till you make it." The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay: “Didn’t it look like Phil wrote the speech in the cab from the airport there? It wasn’t exactly inspirational” (“Crowd Goes Wild,” FS1, 3/18). ESPN's Pablo Torre said, "All of this also has the whiff of it being a trap because we have ten years of evidence that indicates James Dolan may not know anything about basketball, but he has never cared, he has never let that stop him" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/18). ESPN's Steve Levy said of the Knicks hiring Jackson, "His signing as team president is yet another classic example of how New York sports teams have always operated: Overpaying for free agents who are past their prime" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/18). ESPN's Keith Olbermann said of Jackson's engagement to Lakers Exec VP/Business Operations Jeanie Buss, "The president of the Lakers engaged to the president of the Knicks. No appearance of a conflict of interest there!" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 3/18).

    SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK: FS1’s Katie Nolan said, “At least fans see that they have moved someone in. They hear Phil Jackson’s name and that brings hope to an organization that had no hope and that’s probably why they are selling a Phil Jackson jersey at the NBA store" (“Crowd Goes Wild,” FS1, 3/18). ESPN's Chris Broussard said of Jackson, "If he can win in New York this could arguably be his greatest achievement" ("OTL," ESPN, 3/18).

  • TV Timeout: Go West

    NBC’s Mark Rolfing said of the ’21 U.S. Open being played at Torrey Pines, “It has to do with one thing: Television rights. And if you take a look at how much money is being spent on television rights for the USGA package, you are going to see more and more west coast U.S. Opens. There is no doubt about it, regardless of whether that may be the best quality venue you could find for the U.S. Open” (“Morning Drive, Golf Channel, 3/19).

    ON FURTHER REVIEW…: FS1’s Mike Pereira, on reports that NFL VP/Officiating Dean Blandino may assist with in-game replay this season: “I don’t think I would want my head guy of the department making the final decision and have that decision to be wrong” (“Fox Football Daily,” FS1, 3/18).

    BIG BUCKS: Basketball HOFer Kareem Abdul Jabbar said of possibly buying the Bucks, "The team is probably going to change hands soon. Don't know what's going to happen specifically. But I'm keeping an eye on it. I might possibly try to be involved. It would be great to be able to help a franchise that I worked for get back to the top" ("Fast Money," CNBC, 3/18)

  • No regrets for Leiweke, who has 'set the tone' in Toronto

    Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President Tim Leiweke generated controversy when he took over the job and called its teams “losers,” but he said he has no regrets.
     “Our teams, our players, our coaches, our fans are now talking about winning,” said Leiweke during the opening panel at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports. “(The comment) provoked a conversation and a mindset they were afraid to have in the past.”
    Leiweke noted that Toronto FC now has its first winning record in history. “It’s good we set the tone,” he said.
    While the former AEG executive's move from Los Angeles to Toronto hasn’t been without its hiccups, he joked that the biggest learning curve had been the weather.
    “You’ve been outside today right?” said Leiweke alluding to the sunny, 70-degree weather in Dana Point, Calif., where the conference is taking place. “It’s snowing in Toronto.”
    Outside of that, he said that he failed to fully appreciate how large the Toronto market was before he took the job. He underestimated it. “It’s the third largest market in North America,” he said. “It’s a uniquely poised capital market to do some remarkable things going forward. I had no idea it was that big, that dynamic, a marketplace.”

    Tags: IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports, Toronto FC, AEG
  • Reaching Millennials may be biggest challenge facing sports

    NASCAR CEO Brian France says figuring out the Millennial fan is a big issue in sports.

    The biggest challenge facing sports in the next few years is determining how to engage Millennials in a way that’s relevant to their demographic, said a panel of league commissioners and team presidents at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports.
    “Everybody’s ability to manage and figure out the Millenial fan and how that continues to unfold this year and over the long term (is the most important issue in sports business),” said NASCAR CEO Brian France.
    MLS Commissioner Don Garber added, “It’s a whole new world and I encourage everyone to spend a lot of time thinking about it.”
    Garber said that the Millenial generation is about 80 million people, and that they view their teams and favorite sports radically different than generations before them. They multi-task. They consume sports on multiple platforms. They may or may not have cable. They want their in-stadium experience to include interactivity.
    Garber pointed to a situation MLS ran into in San Jose as an example of how Millennials’ perspectives can affect sports teams. The Earthquakes opted to charge more for tickets for a game against the Seattle Sounders, and Sounders and Earthquakes fans united through social media to create a supporters group that raised their concerns with the league. They protested together.
    “That’s not something anyone in our generation thought of,” Garber said. “A Giants fan wasn’t hanging out with an Eagles fan to figure out how they were going to deal with away ticket pricing. We better understand that. It’s going to affect the way we do business.”

    YouTube Global Sports Head Claude Ruibal said that while that type of response among Millennials is creating issues for leagues and teams, it’s also creating new opportunities for the sports industry.
    “The social amplification, something like Kick TV (a soccer channel on YouTube that MLS launched) that people are sharing with 10, 20 and 30 of their friends [is] spreading out,” Ruibal said. “You have to see the power of that.”
    Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is trying to engage the Millenial generation with its relaunch of the Toronto Raptors’ brand. It brought on Canadian rapper Drake to assist in developing a new logo and look for the team.
    “We’re using him as an opportunity to understand social media because we absolutely believe that is the platform to reach our future fan base,” said MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke.
    Both Leiweke and Seattle Seahawks and Sounders President Peter McLoughlin said that their soccer teams, Toronto FC and the Sounders, tend to have more young fans. Leiweke noted that avidity among young fans for MLS is now equal to avidity for MLB, according to the ESPN Sports Poll. McLoughlin said that the way they interact with their team is different.
    “They believe they are owners of their own club,” McLoughlin said. “It’s just a whole new world in our business.”
    France said that NASCAR, which has an aging fan base, is working hard to find new ways to engage Millennial fans. It created a Fan and Media Engagement Center to monitor social media, where most Millennial fans communicate, and its top facility, Daytona International Speedway, is adding new social media interaction areas as part of a $400 million renovation project.
    “They’re getting interested in sports differently,” France said. “It’s not the male in the house idea that your father or brother or uncle take you to a game or a race. And then the device — they want the device to have relevance into the actual game. That’s not going to be upon us tomorrow morning, but over the next decade and longer, it’s going to be a very big factor.” 

    Tags: IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports, NASCAR, MLS, Seattle Sounders, Media
  • Breakfast networking at World Congress

    Photos from breakfast networking at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports.

    Tags: ING, IMG, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports
  • Silver: NBA digital model needs a ‘simpler consumer experience’

    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says the way that the NBA sells games on smartphones and tablets, and the way that fans consume them, is “pretty clunky,” and that he’d like to find ways to simplify the process.

    “The existing combination of blackouts and multiple broadcasters makes it very difficult to present what would otherwise be a simpler consumer experience,” said Silver during a one-on-one interview at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports. “Nirvana would be that if someone was tweeting about a great game, and they say ‘tune in, LeBron has 25 points through the first quarter against Cleveland,’ that you just go ‘click’ and if you’re an authenticated subscriber, you can then get that game. Right now – less because of market considerations and more because of limitations in technology – the only way you can buy our out-of-market package is through an All-You-Can-Eat package of games. And that’s not optimal for a lot of consumers. Our hope is that working with our TV partners, including RSN partners, you can have one combined ecosystem.”

    During the session, Silver hit on a variety of topics, including the league’s TV rights deals, tanking, jersey ads, expansion and ways fans consume the league digitally.

    Here are a few quick hits:

    On jersey ads: “I think it’s inevitable. There are so many programs because of TiVo where people are skipping all the commercials, it just creates that much more of an opportunity for our marketing partners to get closer to our fans and closer to our players. And it gives us an opportunity to have deeper integration when it comes to those forms of sponsorship. … I think it’s going to become more accepted and commonplace by U.S. fans. Most likely within five years.”

    On managing NBA digital rights: “This is an area we should be partnering. We’re very happy with our current partnership with Turner.”

    On the coming TV deal: “We have two years left on our national TV deal with Turner and ESPN/ABC. What we’ve said to our current partners is that if we can strike the right deals, we’re interested in renewing early. But it’s a great time to be out in the marketplace.”

    Tags: NBA, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports
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