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Volume 22 No. 43
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Panel describes what works, and what doesn’t, with Gen Z marketing

Octagon’s Dan Cohen (left), Overtime’s Dan Porter, MLB’s Barbara McHugh and Snap’s Anmol Malhotra said the payoff with Gen Z comes in moving beyond the game and focusing on experiences, personalities and culture.
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
Octagon’s Dan Cohen (left), Overtime’s Dan Porter, MLB’s Barbara McHugh and Snap’s Anmol Malhotra said the payoff with Gen Z comes in moving beyond the game and focusing on experiences, personalities and culture.
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
Octagon’s Dan Cohen (left), Overtime’s Dan Porter, MLB’s Barbara McHugh and Snap’s Anmol Malhotra said the payoff with Gen Z comes in moving beyond the game and focusing on experiences, personalities and culture.
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown

Sports TV networks and leagues that want to target Gen Z (generally people age 7-22) need to spend as much time focused on off-field stories as on-field competition.

 

That was the general consensus of the opening panel at last week’s Octagon Sports Marketing Symposium in New York.

When it first produced sports content four years ago, Snapchat did not realize that younger consumers were more interested in off-field stories. Highlights of specific games did not lead to a lot of clicks.

“Over the past two years, we pivoted to just thinking about everything else, the pregame, the postgame, the fans, the locker room,” said Anmol Malhotra, head of sports partnerships for Snap. “Before, it was about attracting someone like me, a hardcore, male sports fan. Now it’s about attracting the casual fan.”

MLB has found the same challenges as it has waded into social media, finding fans are more interested in following individuals rather than a team, league or network, said Barbara McHugh, senior vice president of marketing for MLB.

MLB has found success in providing experiences beyond the games for these younger consumers. McHugh pointed to MLB’s food fest as an example.

“In addition to the food element, that event is really about the Instagramable moments,” she said. “It’s been fun to see about 45% of our ticket buyers are under that age 30.”

Octagon Senior Vice President Dan Cohen cited research that showed
Gen Z is just as interested in sports as older generations; it’s just that they are consuming it on different platforms.

“Engaging with sports means so much more than what’s inside the white lines,” he said. “It’s fashion, it’s music, it’s art, it’s food, it’s community. … The way that traditionally you measure engagement is a spot rating from Nielsen. That can’t be the way you monetize or market to fans of Gen Z anymore. There’s so much more.”

Overtime CEO Dan Porter cited research showing that only 5% of 13- to 24-year-olds watched a live television event in the past 12 months.

“You just have so much competition from other things, whether it’s Fortnite, Netflix or 20 other streaming services; whether it’s watching shows on Snapchat, getting sucked into TikTok,” he said. “It used to have a monopoly the same way that I used to go out on my driveway and pick up the newspaper and that had a monopoly on my sports content and stuff like that.”

 

John Ourand can be reached at jourand@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ and read his twice-weekly newsletter.