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Volume 24 No. 154
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Sports Business Wake-Up!: Future of network's and fantasy in final SMT edition

We had a terrific two days at the 2015 Sports Media & Technology conference in New York. Many thanks to all of the speakers, panelists, exhibitors and attendees who made this year’s event a success. Day 2 of SMT featured CBS boss Les Moonves going in-depth on the state of sports, entertainment and networks, plus our first-ever eSports panel, more on the daily fantasy landscape and a riveting discussion on the state of media content. Here are a few highlights:

MOONVES: NETWORKS ARE ALIVE AND WELL: During a one-on-one session with guest interviewer Ben Grossman, Moonves weighed in on everything from skinny bundles to skyrocketing rights fees. A few highlights:
— On the state of network TV: “I’ve been hearing that network television’s been dead since the day I took this job over 20 years ago. … Network is still pretty damn important, and pretty damn successful.”
— On the NFL: “The NFL is pretty important to the networks. It’s pretty important. They know it. I must say, they use their leverage appropriately, and you take it with a smile because, guess what, you need the NFL.”
— On the impact of digital media: “The economics have changed in how we’re getting paid, but, at our core, we’re still producing great content, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Though he is one of the most influential people in media, Moonves arrived at the conference absent any entourage, went early to the speaker room and chatted briefly with NBC's Sam Flood and Fox's Jamie Horowitz before sitting down to talk with SBJ/SBD Executive Editor Abe Madkour, Grossman and CBS EVP Communications Dana McClintock. Moonves was scheduled to be in Foxboro last night for the Dolphins-Patriots game, the final Thursday Night Football game on CBS for the season.
For more from the Moonves interview, see our writeup in SportsBusiness Daily.

THE STATE OF MEDIA CONTENT: The opening panel of Day 2 was a wide-ranging discussion of media content that included competing visions on building an audience from network execs Horowitz and Flood. Flood: “We’re not looking to serve everyone in the audience. We’re looking to serve the specific audience that we have. Short term, you’ve got to be what you are and be in love with the sports you have.” Horowitz responded: “We’re here to compete. There’s no doubt about it. It’s a perfectly acceptable business and strategy that NBC is pursuing, but it’s not the one that Fox is pursuing. We’re here to compete all hours of the day, seven days a week. We’re not going to concede any ground to ESPN. Not now, not in the future…” More from this panel in today’s SBD.

THE REALITY ON FANTASY: DraftKings CEO Jason Robins, during a one-on-one interview, said he was stunned at the quick spread of an “unfounded” story about misuse of information by one of his employees, but that his company has responded well to the crisis. “I’m hoping that in the not-too-distant future, it’s died down enough that it’s not taking up the dominant portion of my day,” Robins said. “But right now, [we are] just making sure that we’re doing all the things we can to be open and transparent, and to show people that we’re a good company, that we’re doing things the right way, we’re behaving responsibly, we’re taking any issues very seriously, we’re very open and interested in cooperating with any authorities that would like to have input in this area. And I think if we do those things that everything will work out.” Robins also talked about working with competitor FanDuel to set standards for best practices and oversight of the industry. Read more in today’s SBD.     

— Moonves, on the World Series: “Can the Mets come back? Absolutely. … Although, there’s a part of me, even though I’m an old-school Mets fan, competitively, wants the game over in four. I don’t want Fox to get three more of those great numbers.”
— Horowitz, on whether GIFs are a fair use of sports images: “The question is ‘Is it really a highlight?’ A photo, you would be OK with; a highlight, you would not be OK with. The question is, Where on that spectrum does a GIF fall?”
— Robins: “You know you’ve made it when you’re actually the subject of a question at a presidential debate.”

THE THIRST FOR DIGITAL: Conference sponsor Microsoft ended the gathering by taking a deep dive into digital, hosting a workshop and panel discussions about reaching fans on all devices, and on how tech innovations are affecting fans, coaches and athletes. Attendees were entered in a drawing for several prizes. The winner of a Surface Pro 4 was Oliver Miller. Winners of a NASCAR driving experience were Claire Elliott, Wade Floyd and Scott Kellman.

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: For the second year, through our partnership with NeuLion, we did interviews with key speakers and panelists throughout the conference and posted them online. To access our SMT Live content, visit and sign up to see interviews on your PC, smartphone and tablet. Among the interviews posted since yesterday’s email: PGA Tour’s Rick Anderson, World Surf League’s Paul Speaker and the NBA’s Steve Hellmuth.

There was lots of social action around the conference. You can view the tweet stream, which includes quotes from many of our panelists, on Twitter by searching the hashtag #sbjsmt. Among the tweets we liked:
@grossman: Congrats to my friends at @sbjsbd on a massively successful Sports Media & Tech event. I learned a ton and networking was impressive
@dannykeens: Always a pleasure being peppered with questions by @Ourand_SBJ in front of industry peers.
@JonSchwartz1: Impressed by what all 3 networks had 2 say this AM re consumption habits of today’s fan. Particularly, how tv & digital work 2gether.
@LindaMThom: Sorry @katiertang — @dannykeens from @TwitterSports says Gif is pronounced G-if not J-if #sorrynotsorry

And a special thanks to a few people who really helped keep the conversation going: @emmettknowlton, @franklinavenue, @MikeFlynn826 and @JonSchwartz1.

— — — DON’T MISS NEXT WEEK’S SPORTS MARKETING SYMPOSIUM: Our lineup for this year’s conference includes top marketers on the challenges of technology and changing consumer patterns, top sponsors on structuring flexible and creative deals, and a Hollywood insider on bridging the worlds of brands, entertainment and sports. We’ll also have our own version of “Shark Tank,” with five emerging companies pitching their products to win the votes of the audience and a panel of judges. For agenda and speaker details, or to register for the event, click here. — — —