Key takeaways from Digital Sport London: What Now for Sports Marketing?

At Pinsent Masons in central London on Thursday night, Digital Sport presented a panel of experts to talk about the future of marketing in sport.

With some heavyweights of the industry: Georgina Lewis of the FA, Gideon Reeves of Bleacher Report and Steve Madincea of Fantastec, the current landscape, and what it will look like in the future was on the agenda.

It’s clear that the world is now a digital one, and everyone is in agreement that digital transformation has already taken place. This is a new world: brands and rights holders now have as much right to call themselves publishers as the traditional media outlets – and indeed the established sports sites who can no longer call themselves new kids on the block!

Now that everyone is creating content and fighting for the attention of sports fans, the logical question is ‘what next?’ Is everyone now a competitor? Or is sport as a vertical now competing with Netflix, entertainment brands, politics and music? So instead, should we see each other as partners and not competitors?

Here are our key takeaways:

The Waistcoated Man

It might have been a strategic decision to make the England’s social media channels more engaging, especially over the World Cup, but it was Gareth Southgate who really set the tone.

His openness and forward thinking allowed the FA to take the feelgood vibes and run with them. And the result was the Lions Den and other huge social media engagement. Georgina Lewis took us through the England Squad announcement ahead of the tournament. That set the tone, and they haven’t looked back!

Finding the White Spaces

It’s not always about having the rights, sometimes telling stories in the ‘white spaces’ between the live sport and the culture it creates.

Sport isn’t just about sport any more. It’s about culture, fashion, music and entertainment. House of Highlights does that perfectly – finding the funny or cool moments during the live games

Sports teams have no time to invest in technology

And the big tech companies don’t understand sport or know how to harness it!

Steve Madincea and Fantastec were able to find a massive ‘white space’ in between tech and sport – bringing new technology to sports teams who can then use it to engage with their fans.

Not every OTT platform is going to make it

“In 1903 there were 97 car companies in Detroit: only four are still around,” says Steve Madincea, who thinks a similar thing with happen with OTT platforms.

Everyone wants an OTT platform, but not everyone will do it right. If you don’t have the right tools to do it and do it well, it’s unlikely to succeed. But those who put in the money and do it well can reach huge rewards.

Branded content or content?

Bleacher Report don’t see a difference between ‘content’ and ‘branded content’ – “If it doesn’t make you stop and say I like that, I want to share that, we’re not doing our job properly,” says Gideon Reeves.

Lending a brand their voice is the most valuable thing a popular publisher can do. But it’s also smart from the publisher’s point of view: after all, the publisher’s voice is why the fans are there in the first place.

Helping the Grassroots

The FA’s partnership with PayPal is a new way of using partnerships to really solve a problem and do some good. Every weekend kids’ football coaches and amateur players scramble around to find the cash to pay referees or weekly subscriptions.

With the FA’s new PayPal partnership, they’re able to pay easily every week without having to worry about having the cash – it helps clubs keep going by ensuring they get cash, but it’s easier to keep participation rates high when it’s easy to get involved!

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 799 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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