Last week, our CTO, Xavier Green and Marketing Manager, Rafael Molina Harno attended the SportsPro Media OTT Summit in Madrid. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by other players in the industry and to hear from some of the biggest sports brands in the world, as well as reconnect with clients in person. The conference was centred around OTT and had speakers from the NBA, AC Milan, WRC, Volleyball World, WWE, MotoGP, DAZN, OneFootball, WSC Sports, Tottenham Hotspur FC, EFL and SailGP amongst many others.
Here are our key takeaways and learnings from the summit. There was a common theme, and that was that the future of sports should be data-driven and fan concentrated for maximum engagement and brand building.
We had the pleasure to listen to Casper Stylsvig, Chief Revenue Officer at AC Milan, formerly of Manchester United and Fulham who has overseen a revamp of the Milan brand since their heyday in the early 2000s. Building a strong brand around a football team is never easy, but the results help! There are clearly so many different layers to creating a strong brand, but innovative partnerships like AC Milan’s with Offwhite was a huge step forward in forging a unique identity away from the pitch. It started in 2019, with the idea of creating a lifestyle brand, much like PSG have done with AirJordan. This has helped them build on their historic support and be known for more than onpitch success. AC Milan is well and truly a global brand.
Anne Detlefsen of PGA Tour came to speak about the latest Netflix show centred around a sport. Since Drive to Survive hit streaming platforms in 2019, sport docu-series have exploded in a huge way. It has proven to be great way of building your brand and sport in new markets and targets. Athletes are becoming actors in their own sport, as sports brand move towards embracing the entertainment side of the industry, these shows are an incredible way to create interest around a sport from a segment of the population that would not usually be a viewer. A show is digestable, and shows the entertainment value of a sport in a simple way a viewer is used to.
Hearing from the CSOO of OnlyFans, Keily Blair was incredibly enlightening on the future that the creator economy will have on sports and athletes brands. OnlyFans has given power back to the creators and fans, where athletes can build their brands while also monetising them all along. As sports organisations produce more and more content, they will have to look to the creator economy to be an add-on to their overall digital strategy. Social media plays a key role in sports but fans do not necessarily just want to engage with their favourite team or league, and will go to the source of their interest - the creators and athletes.
As we look towards an OTT future, expanding audience reach with shoulder programming, live clipping, social, and real-time content becomes a key part of the viewing experience. Sports like boxing can be admired for the importance they place on weigh-ins, and how they’ve created an entire separate part of the viewing experience based on it. Boxing promoters are the best in the world, and the sports world can look to them for inspiration. Many sports need to learn from these as they move towards OTT, as the D2C model will require more content in order to better engage and keep their viewers hooked.
With so many sports examining the benefits of this model, it’s clear that the future will be OTT. A D2C model will allow sports organisations to maintain close relationships with their audience, gather insights and monetise simultaneously. Data will be crucial in this model and as sports organisations learn more about their fans, they can better provide the satellite engagement that will appeal to them. Partnerships will be key to the model, as no one can manage the technological hurdles alone, and diversification as organisations look to license their content, host their own live events, and profit off of e-commerce. The challenges are there, but the opportunities are clear.