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Volume 24 No. 157

Events and Attractions

The USTA said that the recently-completed U.S. Open set a record for concession sales, recording $37M million in receipts. The event recorded $22.9M of food and beverage sales, topping last year’s high of $21.1M million, while merchandise hit $14.1M. USTA Dir of Communictions Chris Widmaier said that the category normally does not bring in more than $13M. Widmaier noted that concession prices did not increase much, so high demand sparked the increase. Levy handles concessions for the USTA, and FMI merchandise (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer). The event also drew a total of 713,026 fans during the two-week tournament in Flushing Meadows, up slightly from 710,803 fans last year and good enough for the fourth-best total ever. The tourney saw record attendance for a day session with 38,120 fans attending on Sun., Sept. 1. The previous record had been set the day before with 38,070. Sept. 1 also marked a record attendance for combined day/evening sessions with 62,794 fans (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).


CHART NOTE: * = Takes into account the effect of rain exchanges.

CAN TOURNEY GET A DIFFERENT DATE? NBCSN’s Michelle Beadle said of the U.S. Open conflicting with Week 1 of the NFL regular season, “It’s unfortunate that tennis is in a position with the U.S. Open, especially with the finals being on Sunday and Monday, right as we kick off the NFL season. I don’t know if there’s room to change that, but if you could, where would you put it?” SI’s Jon Wertheim said, “It’s like the Jenga tower, you start moving weeks and this tournament gets upset. Monday afternoon is probably not the best time to have a major sporting event final.” Wertheim joked, “You're competing with 'Judge Judy.'” Wertheim added, “This has always been an issue but you're up against a monster that is the NFL. If you happened to have cut away though from the Packers, Niners or from the Lions game yesterday, that was a great sporting event.” "The Dan Patrick Show" Exec Producer Paul Pabst said, “Social media really alerted people to flip the channels” (“The Crossover,” NBCSN, 9/9).

RETRO FIT: The West Side Tennis Club in the Forest Hills area of Queens, which served as the site of the U.S. Open from '24-77, has recently "doubled as an A-list concert venue." CBS' Jim Axelrod said, "Concert promoters came up with a million bucks to refurbish the place and last month for the first time in 16 years, they held a concert here, Mumford and Sons. A British band packed the place." West Side Tennis Club Head Groundskeeper Jim Sheridan said he has "hope that this is a start of definitely coming back as a facility for concerts." Axelrod added, "There's even talk about full tennis exhibitions featuring elite players and who knows, one day maybe even a top-flight professional tournament here again" ("CBS This Morning," 9/10).

When it comes to marketing effectively to women through sports, the challenge is not just hitting the target, it is figuring out where the target is. During the '13 Game Changers Conference in N.Y., AmEx VP/Global Media, Sponsorships & Experimental Marketing Rich Lehrfeld said, “All of us market towards women, but the question is, are you singling them out and saying, ‘Hey, you women, this is for you?’ We don’t do that.” Lehrfeld was part of a panel discussing how corporate marketers reach women through sports and entertainment. He was joined by Unilever VP/Marketing for Skincare Rob Candelino, MillerCoors Senior Dir of Coors, Molson & Foster Brands Sarah Ross, and T-Mobile Dir of Sponsorships & Events Meredith Starkey.

CONTEXT IS KEY: Lehrfeld said, "What we’ve learned over time in marketing is, you can do things you don’t even notice you’re doing. That’s the area we are hypersensitive to.” For Candelino, whose company is behind the Dove brand, it is about choosing sponsorship opportunities that sync with the brand’s image as an advocate for women, especially with regard to positive body image. “Our way of impacting girls’ lives is what guides us,” he said. “We believe sports plays a huge role.” For example, Dove will be the presenting sponsor for the 42nd annual Family Circle Cup in '14, a women’s tennis tournament that is the largest of its kind. Candelino: “We jump in when it’s contextually relevant. That’s when we do sports properties.”

Ross stressed the importance of occasion
marketing in reaching female consumers

NOT HOME ALONE: Ross said that while it is important not to overemphasize the differences between the sexes in marketing, you do have to be aware of how men and women consume sports. Occasion marketing -- a key emphasis for Coors -- takes on increased importance in reaching women consumers who are more likely to watch sports in social settings. Ross: “I’m using generalities, but there’s usually less time spent at home alone watching football. It’s more taverns, restaurants, with larger groups of friends. It’s a very social occasion. The key is to create an inclusive experience.”

SOCIAL ANIMALS: Panelists saw the mix of people watching sports as becoming more diverse, with the millennial generation especially opening up new opportunities for experiential marketers. “It’s less about guys going out and doing stuff together,” Lehrfeld said. “It’s more father-son, father-daughter, husband-wife. The experience is becoming more of a social, with friends and family, in a much greater way.”

NBC Sports Group Senior VP/Production & Senior Coordinating Producer Dan Steir immediately knew that it was news when WNBA Shock G Riquna Williams scored a league-record 51 points on Sunday, but he had nagging doubts about how the network covered the milestone. “I’m not sure we gave it enough exposure,” he said during the '13 Game Changers Conference in N.Y. “I kept on saying to myself, 'What if this was Kobe? What would we be doing the next day?'” Steir was part of a panel discussing how the media covers women’s sports. He was joined by Roopstigo Founder and former SI writer Selena Roberts, USA Today Managing Sports Editor Mary Byrne and Editor-in-Chief Patrick Stiegman. Roberts wondered what it takes for women’s sports to make the homepage of a mainstream sports media outlet. She said, “If you don’t get on the homepage without scoring 51 points, that says something, too.”

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND? Another hot topic yesterday was ESPN’s female-focused vertical, espnW, which is promoted as “a destination for women who are passionate sports fans and athletes.” Stiegman responded to criticism that his network had created a “digital ghetto” for women’s sports programming. “I’ve heard that complaint from time to time and I entirely reject it,” he said, pointing to ESPN’s well-received "Nine for IX" documentary series. “It’s a commitment to sports journalism that’s about women’s sports and women’s sports fans.” Roberts, who praised ESPN’s overall efforts in covering women’s sports, said that they nevertheless deserve a permanent place on the ESPN home page. Roberts: “It feels like segregation, like you’re marginalizing it to a page.” Stiegman countered that the website surfaces content from espnW across its many digital properties. He said that ESPN sees women’s sports programming as a growth opportunity similar to soccer, which enjoyed increased exposure on the network as ESPN works to tap into its global popularity.

DIVERSITY PAYS OFF: A diverse editorial staff is perhaps as important as dedicating resources to covering women’s sports. “The more diverse my staff is, the better stories I have,” Byrne said. “Diversity leads to better stories, and those stories help broaden your base. And that’s not gender-specific.” The broad consensus among panelists was that great stories are genderless. “There’s no doubt that ESPN is committed to advocacy for women’s sports,” Stiegman said. “What I’m committed to is the storytelling.” Added Byrne: “If you make news, you’ll make a headline.”