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SMT Panel: Sports media headlines of the day

Perspectives from the Top

Bill Daly, NHL
Lenny Daniels, Turner Sports
Paul Fichtenbaum, Time Inc.
Brian Rolapp, NFL Media

The latest developments, trends and technologies that affect sports media was the main topic of during an opening panel of the ’13 Covington & Burling Sports Media & Technology conference this morning. On the heels of a conference interview with Twitter COO Ali Rowhani, NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp discussed the league’s recent deal with the microblogging platform and said the collaboration “creates an immediacy and a scale,” and that Twitter has a “monetization model that fits well with ours.” Time Inc. Sports Group Editor Paul Fichtenbaum said of possible pitfalls with Twitter, “It has taken a little bit of accountability out of sports reporting.” Turner Sports Exec VP & COO Lenny Daniels said the company has put old Lakers games on NBA TV, with Kobe Bryant live-tweeting the game, and “all of a sudden there is interest in a game that happened 10 years ago.”

Hot topics:

TECH COMPANIES BIDDING FOR RIGHTS? Rolapp said companies like Google or Apple are “so flush with cash they can do whatever they want. It’s really a question about developing a model that works for them. We haven't seen that yet.” Daniels said many of these tech companies work because they are “hyperfocused on what they do.” Daniels: “There would really need to be a shift at these companies to where they feel they needed to be a media company. I just don't know that it is in their DNA.”

NEW WAYS TO CONNECT WITH FANS: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league is now serving fans “in ways they never had been able to before,” including player tracking technologies on

ANOTHER THURSDAY NIGHT NFL PACKAGE? Rolapp said there is “no timetable.” Rolapp: “Nothing is off the table. ... I don’t think it’s eons off, but it’s more in the near future.”

MOBILE USAGE, MONETIZATION: Fichtenbaum said a recent surprise has been that people are “reading long form” more on mobile, with about 51% of those types of stories being consumed via mobile devices. Fichtenbaum: “The level of engagement was really off the charts for some stories that I never would have thought would have worked very well on mobile.” Daniels said mobile monetization “will take time for people to figure out.” Fichtenbaum: “It depends on the content as to whether it will be a moneymaker. A subscription model can work.”

Rolapp said that “if you don’t have a wired stadium, if you don't have an information highway where people can get this content, it’s irrelevant. But first, it would be nice if you could just make a call or send a text. You have to start there. It requires short-term action if you’re going to get ahead.”

Rolapp feels there was “a lot of information swirling around, some informed, some not. … The facts are not out yet and you have a lot of opinion and commentating.”

Daniels and Fichtenbaum both said NCAA reforms. Daly said the conclusion of the NHL’s Canadian TV rights deals. Rolapp said the story to watch is more consolidation in pay TV.

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Related Topics:

Media, NHL, Turner Sports, NBA, NFL, Twitter, NBA TV, Google, Apple

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