Creativity concerning the construction, use and legacy of stadiums was identified as the biggest way to impact sport profitability, while leveraging social media to deliver a richer, 24/7 experience were selected as the easiest ways to boost profitability, agreed participants at the “How Can We Improve the Balance Sheet for Sport?” taskforce at the Doha Goals Forum.
During the discussion, panelists who were helping guide the taskforce work identified several trends that will have a major impact on the business of sport.
Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry University, said, “We are on the cusp of very different stadiums. They are no longer just about match day, but about the consumer experience, usage 24/7, and integration with the local community. People are making sure stadiums do not become financial burdens in the medium to long term, alternative uses are being explored.”
Similarly the way sponsorship has been done in the past is changing. “The tide is turning in the world of sponsorship,” said Amy Millslagle, Marketing Vice President for Olympic Operations at the Dow Chemicals Company. “Previously, a sponsor would sign up to a property and it was just about branding, advertising and getting their logo up against your logo – brand impressions. Now, every dollar spent has to have a positive return on investment, and you have to be able to measure it.”
Noora Al Mannai, CEO of Enterprise Qatar and former CEO of the Qatar 2020 bid, added, “sponsors want to get as close to the audience as possible and in an ongoing basis,” saying that new products must be developed that appeal to youth and that allow them to connect. “It used to be just about the experience in the stadium, but now you need to make it a 24/7 experience” through social media.
In this era of “sharing,” marketers will look at ways to monetize user-generated content, said Claude Ruibal, Head of Sports at YouTube/Google. He cited the example of the Professional Bull Riders Association that wanted to activate its stadium crowds. It now encourages audiences to upload video clips of the events. Then, technology allows the association to “essentially fingerprint the uploaded video coming from their fans and claim it as their copywrited video. They can monetize this video, and it offers a huge new revenue stream.”
During the taskforce, the participants identified four solutions that would have the biggest impact on the bottom line:
· Planning stadiums for multi-use early in their development.
· Focusing on IT and technology when developing the stadium infrastructure.
· Creativity around how to rebuild and use existing stadiums.
· Creativity around media rights concerning sports teams and leagues.
They also identified three things that could be implemented easily that would contribute to profitability:
· Targeting fans with exclusive deals and discounts.
· Close partnerships with social media.
· Offering advertising access to well-defined fan bases.
· Creativity around media rights.