October Digital Directors Community Zoom Call Summary

As with all areas of sport, Covid-19 has affected the digital strategy for all involved in sport. Digital transformation is the buzz phrase and this has been accelerated along with understanding the importance of data. Leading to more pressure to plan ahead in this ever changing environment for fans. And to add one more challenge into the equation each region has its own variation and difference.




Valencia CF

World Rugby

The struggle to make plans with all this uncertainty

  • When looking at current Brand campaigns and brand strategy, there is a struggle around how brave we should be with any message that makes any kind of customer promise given how tough the climate is and the situation keeps changing
  • All fans are now in the same situation with very few allowed in the stadium. Now you need to connect with your hard-core season ticket fans in a different way as their normal engagement isn’t possible. How to replicate this while they are at home
  • With uncertain times and unpredictable changes, how long can we keep these fans engaged? We worry they may get fed up. We need to keep relevant with the fans who can’t come back to the stadium for the time being. We struggle with this as we don’t know how long this will be and how much resource to allocate.
  • The NGB’s and International Federations have a different relationship with fans compared to clubs and leagues, they do not have the same emotional value and passion point.
  • We are now having to use our platforms differently: both as an amplifier and informer rather than for pure direct engagement. For example, working with charities and organisations that have direct links to Covid-19 to highlight key messages. We have to get smarter.
  • One example of what someone did was by taking a poll of 800 fans on behalf of the rights holder . As a piece of market research this allowed us to create some bespoke content for that rights holder to share – creating relatable content to the fans by fans.
  • It is finding a balance of hope – while having a bit of fun around the situation. We used what was happening in Germany with the cardboard fans to highlight what could be done, which in turn helps other clubs and leagues. We try to be an aggregator and share information
  • When you are looking to announce an offering for future World Cup events, the connection message should be considered. Fans may not be able to get excited about the tournaments being so far away, so when trying to sell any packages the messaging is more about “Certain days to go” or other milestones rather than a pure sales message. There is also much sensitivity in trying to sell anything at such tricky times and how we balance the need for us to sell and produce revenue vs creating a softer messaging that keeps people engaged

Everything has been accelerated

  • Covid has created a positive acceleration although it comes with issues as not everyone was ready to make such a speedy change and we don’t all understand the options that are available and where we should be placing our resource. This then causes people to make no decision as multiple new methods make decision making hader
  • This period during Covid-19 has created a real test of values (the brand’s dream). When you take fans away from the stadium and strip down the product, what is the bare bones and value of the brand? It is making us all think

Better understanding of bundling our rights

  • We can’t change how society consumes content – they get used to platforms and once exposed they want to keep access content through platforms like Facebook. People stick to what they know so we have to work around that and adjust our models
  • You will now get fans who will buy the whole package, but that is a small percentage of hard core fans. We need to learn how to bundle highlights to attract the other percentage of fans, otherwise we could lose market share.
  • It is looking at the whole customer value chain, as these are incredibly flexible. To protect our rights we want something simple to manage. We need to adapt and bundle better rather than giving away highlights and then being unable to sell other rights

Sport is a business and digital is moving faster than the business of sport

  • It is evaluating the cost of acquisition of new fans and their value of entry.
  • A little bit has begun to happen with Major league baseball and their commercial function.
  • Sometimes we are forgetting the customer journey. This tailoring and repackaging shows the difference between an innovative and old school way of thinking.. Now as a club, we spend more time working together to build something for each other instead of separate departments.
  • The club needs to have the data, if it is owned by the platforms the rights holders will lose their value and put whatever advertising they want.
  • They might not pay, but it will cost them not having control of their data!

Digital transformation is here, and will stay

  • Digital transformation is a big piece of program management – Is this a set of projects to be digitised or is the digital value having the information of every touch point?
  • Start with content – data allows you to know where your fans are, leading to targeting your fans based on what they want to consume.
  • Sports are going from a sellers biased market and now turning this on its head. It’s now very hard to sell rights. In terms of NGB’s and International Federations, are we a consumer facing brand? Where should we sit in this new world?
  • Create something fan centric and when the broadcast does switch off you can go direct to the consumer through your own commercial/digital funnel.

September Digital Directors Community Zoom Call Summary

With leagues starting back up and some playing all their games in one location, how can you integrate digital rights and find ways to engage with fans unable to be in the stadium for live games.

Covid-19 – causing revenue to take a hit, so new outlook on digital is needed

  • Salvaging revenue has been the No. 1 priority with some pressure. Working with corporate partnerships team and keeping communication fluid is crucial in reviewing digital assets.
  • With the current climate, strategy planning is more of a start-up mentality in digital. It used to be all about dreaming big. But now the focus is on what fans actually want and what customers need. The strategic vision is on hold.
  • One of the biggest challenges for the wider team in sports has been season ticket refunds and how to manage the return to live matches with limited attendance.

Now is the time for digital collaborations

  • This year has created an opportunity to work with new partners to create platforms to bring virtual fans into the experience.
  • Some directors have brought in digital products such as a new free-to-play game to help partners with brand awareness – innovation and adapting to the current climate.
  • Working with Broadcasters to bring commentary in each countries local languages can be invariable, enhancing the international reach and engagement

Live events will return, but digital and broadcasting will never be the same

  • Servicing partners digitally requires investment in digital and need to see the investment to carry this out
  • You can prepare for fans coming back to stadiums with features such as contactless payment in the stadium for a new safety outlook.
  • Younger fans are also not engaging as they used to, this may be temporary yet needs to be considered in planning.

Changes with leagues bringing all games to one location has impacted digital outlets

  • Digital assets are impacted with teams unable to activate their physical signage, therefore using digital signage
  • Shorter highlights tap into a new market of engagement, how do you keep this going after fans come back to the stadium?