SGP 061: Fan Engagement, technology & marketing with Zain Pasha & Arthur Gillion

ZainP asha from Sporting InnovationsThis week on Sports Geek podcast I chat with Zain Pasha from Sporting Innovations and Arthur Gillion from Melbourne Victory we discuss sports marketing, fan engagement, membership marketing and latest Apple products

On this podcast you’ll learn from about:

  • How Sporting Innovations use technology at Sporting Park
  • How iBeacons can be used to enhance fan experience
  • How Sporting Park is a beta platform for Sporting Innovations
  • Why the membership message is so important to Melbourne Victory
  • How much A-League has grown in 10 years.

Resources from the episode

Arthur has some football skills

Great point Zain

Sporting Innovations at SEAT in Miami

Social Media Post of the Week

Cracking goal by Mark Milligan at Victory Family Day

I know how you feel Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe's son says "Get out of my face" on national TV


Watch my son’s reaction to my left at 2010 AFL Grand Final Replay

Callanan Shimmy from 2010, my son Rhys is to my right

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SGP 060: Jack Elkins on business innovation at Orlando Magic

Jack Elkins from Orlando Magic on Business InnovationJack Elkins was a lifesaver for me at SEAT in Miami covering for me on Saturday as my voice recovered, we didn’t talk much so we caught up to discuss his role as Business Innovation Manager at the Orlando Magic.  One of the most tweeted about CRM sessions at SEAT was with Katie Morgan Katie Morgan and Lou Antonucci from Scribe discussing how the Texas Rangers integrate multiple data sources for their CRM solution.

On this podcast you’ll learn from about:

  • Why Orlando Magic have an innovation lab
  • Why innovation is not always tech focussed
  • How startups can pitch to sports teams
  • Why there is no such things as too much data
  • CRM comes down to tickets so you need to know your fans

Resources from the episode

Katie in action at #SEAT2014

Watch full Bryan Cranston MLB one man play

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Celtics engaging fans via mobile, find out how? – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

Peter Stringer from Celtics and Media Masters Podcast on Sports Geek PodcastWhat @SportsGeek reads…..

How the AFL lost 500,000 fans in Melbourne

Facebook release some amazing numbers around Facebook video.

Boston Celtics deliver results for sponsor and fans via mobile

Apple teaming up with Visa, MasterCard on iPhone wallet.

Nice video to promote the new NASCAR Sprint Cup format on Facebook

Twitter playing around with Buy button on your tweets.

7 social login myths debunked

Pie sellers wear beacons in technology trial, more gimmick than best use of technology.

Wimbledon generated 3.5m short clip video views across Facebook and Twitter.

Ryder Cup organisers ban photo/video uploads to social media by fans. DUMB MOVE.

Here’s where you need to sit to catch a foul ball.

2014 NFL season kicks off on Facebook.

Frank Caliendo: Morgan Freeman talkin’ about practice

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Tuesday 9th September 2014

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SGP 059: Peter Stringer on Celtics, digital & podcasting

Peter Stringer from Celtics and Media Masters Podcast on Sports Geek PodcastGood to catch up with Peter Stringer from the Boston Celtics one of the first guys I followed and connected with when I started Sports Geek.  Pete and I discuss how the digital landscape has changed and his foray into the world of podcasting.  On ABC Grandstand we discuss security issues around the celebrity iCloud hacking scandal.

On this podcast you’ll learn about:

  • What Peter’s role looked like in 2005
  • Why getting data our of Facebook was important
  • How mobile is becoming the primary platform for sports fans
  • How pre game became a driver for Celtics mobile app
  • What Peter has learned as a podcaster
  • What athletes need to do to secure their phones
  • Why teams are using video on Facebook

Resources from the episode

Join the conversation, send us a tweet

Are you following @Celtics on Twitter?

Are you on Cyber Dust?  Add me

Cyber Dust by Mark Cuban add SeanCallanan

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Podcast Transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 59 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On this week’s episode, I catch up with Peter Stringer from the Boston Celtics to talk all things Celtics digital and about his foray into podcasting. On an ABC grandstand, we talk about the celeb hacking scandal and how it affects athletes.

D.J. Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now here’s your host, who watched his first NFL games, sitting behind Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, D.J. Joel, my name is Sean Callanan and you are listening to the Sports Geek Podcast. And yes, my first NFL game was sitting behind Ralph Wilson. At the time, I did not know that. I think it was around 1999, maybe 2000. I was in Seattle catching a game at the old Kingdome. And lucky enough to secure us some tickets through Gary Wright who was at the Seahawks.

And we actually were sitting in the media area. And for those of you who are in the business and know about sitting in the media area, you can’t be sitting there chugging beers, and screaming out and yelling, and enjoying the game as a normal fan. You have to sit there because there are people doing work.

But me and my mate Mark Seymour, “The Professor,” as he’s known on Twitter, we were watching the game and we could not figure out for the life of us why the man in front of us was cursing the Bills quarterback Doug Flutie. For those of you who have been following the NFL for a while would remember Doug Flutie.

Did not like the way Doug was performing in that day. The Seahawks won the match but he was cursing every single time Doug Flutie made a mistake. And it wasn’t until after the event that we figured out that it was Bills owner Ralph Wilson. He preferred to sit in the media area when he was visiting stadium. So that’s the story of my first NFL game.

And I’ll have to go to Peter Robert Casey’s newly launched site, Football Passport. We spoke to him earlier about Hardball Passport; he’s now launched Football Passport. You can go to and you can log every single NFL or college football game that you have been to. As I said, when we had him on, a really good way for you to document your fan experience.

On this week’s podcast, I have Peter Stringer from the Boston Celtics. I met Pete back in 2011 when he was out here for a conference and also caught up with him again when seat was in Boston. We’ve been going back and forwards trying to get a time to have this interview now that Pete has joined the land of the podcasters as well. We’ll chat about that and what he’s up to at the Celtics on this interview so I hope you enjoy it.

I’m very happy to welcome one of the leaders, a guy I’ve been following for a long time. I am lucky enough to meet him a couple of years back when he was in Sydney. Peter Stringer from the Boston Celtics, welcome to the podcast.

Peter Stringer: Thanks for having me, Sean.

Sean: So Pete, you are the senior director of digital media at the Boston Celtics. You’ve been there since 2005. The landscapes definitely changed since that time. Do you want to take us back to those early days and what it was like getting started?

Peter Stringer: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, talk about a complete difference in not only the job, but just in terms of the responsibilities and the platforms that existed. When I first got here and I came into the job in 2005, it was really just We had our e-mail channel and that was a big way in which we sell tickets. And frankly, today, that’s still a big channel for us on e-mail. But at that time, nobody was using Facebook for public properties like a sports team like the Celtics and Twitter didn’t exist. No Instagram or Pinterest or any of these other platforms that are out there and video was a much different world. You really couldn’t distribute video in the way you can do it now in terms of high definition and it wasn’t something that teams were producing on their own. But in that time, our business has changed drastically and I’ve been fortunate enough to kind of have that opportunity in front of me. And so, as I’ve gone along, when I came in the door, it was, “Hey, here’s Keep this up to date.”

I really took us down this path of developing content and so, that kind of was a natural fit for all of these different social media channels that came up over the years and now here we are in 2014 and heading into 2015. That’s really what my group is responsible for. I’ve got five people that are all cranking away on regular content throughout not only the season but through the off seasons as well. My pieces of business has changed and increased drastically since I got here.

Sean: Did you ever have, like Jeremy, Pete. Did you ever have the title Webmaster?

Peter Stringer: I never had the title Webmaster, necessarily. But I certainly had most of those responsibilities. The way the NBA runs, they kind of own the infrastructure, if you will. And so, I did never have to deal with server administration, that type of stuff. But from the standpoint of writing HTML code, I was doing it off HTML, Photoshop, JavaScript, jQueries, CSS. All that stuff. Which if I had to dive into now, I’m not really sure how well I’d be able to handle it.

I know enough to be dangerous now but so many things have changed especially with responsive design and things of that nature and trying to develop your sites for mobile apps and all the different aspects of mobile that exist now. I’m not sure I’m really qualified to do that job anymore. It’s changed drastically again since I first came in, I was writing code in 2005.

Sean: One of the big case studies that you guys had was the three-point play on Facebook early on. That experience of then, it’s still something that people are still trying to figure out. How do we get the data out of Facebook? How do we drive them into our database, into our CRM? Start the e-mail conversation. As you said earlier, it’s still a messy way for you guys to sell tickets. Do you wanna take us through on the genesis of that idea and how it worked? And how that has evolved over time?

Peter Stringer: Sure. I think Facebook is obviously one of those things that I think when it first came out; nobody quite knew what to do with it. But it was pretty clear to me early on that regardless of the size of the audience we may have there, we didn’t really own those people. And I’d argue to this day, you don’t really own your Facebook audience. You’re just really helping Facebook collect data on them. And so now, it’s a matter of, how do we get those people off of Facebook and into our database, and get them to buy tickets and turn them into customers. That aspect of it hasn’t changed.

And so, yeah, three-point play back in 2009 was pretty new at the time from a sports marketing standpoint. And it was basically just taking what we already knew is that we need fans to be in our database and trying to come up with a way to leverage which was Facebook apps were still pretty new at that point. And companies were trying to figure out how to leverage them to get fans engaged but they weren’t necessarily thinking about building customer bases with them. And to me, if you work in sports marketing, your number one job is to get people in the building. And so, I was always thinking about it in terms of how are we going to get people to become customers of the Celtics.

Fast-forward to 2014 and how we’re looking at Facebook, it’s a much different landscape. Really, for us, we have that large audience. Obviously, it’s well-documented that you don’t reach anywhere near the audience you used to. Where it used to be a post would hit 20%, 30%, 40% of our audience. Now, we hit 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%. But what we have seen a lot of growth with recently in the last month or so has been organic video on Facebook. And so, actually uploading video directly to their platform versus trying to send people back to to watch it. And we’re seeing some pretty big numbers in terms of. . .for a couple of different reasons. But we’re seeing large numbers in terms of the amount of views we’re seeing on videos that we would never get on our own website. Just because we don’t have the type of traffic that would be able to support that. But with Facebook’s recent change with their auto starting videos for people now and they’re incenting you to put that content into the stream, we’re really seeing a lot of consumption on those videos now.

And so, now we have kind of a choice to make. Does it matter to us where people view our videos, right? So for me, I don’t really care where you view them, as long as you view them. And if one of our corporate partners is paying us to have some branded content that reaches our audience so we can reach a much larger audience on Facebook than we can on our website. Because we don’t have to wait for them to come to us, we just go to them. That’s something we’re looking at and we’re spending a lot more time thinking about how that works. Right now, our move has been, “All right, let’s upload this video natively to Facebook and taking advantage of the fact that they’re creating an audience force that we never had before.”

Like anything else, your strategy has to evolve and change. And as you see the platform making major shifts, you have to be willing to make those shifts as well and be nimble in terms of having strategy and adapting it to what’s actually happening in the real world. I forgot what the stat was today. I think it was something along the fact that they’re serving a billion videos a month or something like that on Facebook. So really, you have to keep dialed into this stuff and be ready. Obviously, if you’re Facebook, you have to expect that the next move is going to be auto-playing video ads. I think that’s pretty clear, that’s what they’re trying to prime the pump for. But again, when you look at these things and you see these kinds of sea changes, you have to be ready to change your strategy and that’s what we’ve done.

Sean: Yeah. Completely agree on the video. They’re definitely diving in and they’re almost getting a free pass on the interlink for anything video. If you scroll down your feed at the bottom, it’s all video and sports are just all over it. They’re ideal for it. You don’t really even need the auto-play. You want to play it.

So it’s a really good way from a sports point of view. I say there’s a massive opportunity to reengage your audience and say, “Maybe you haven’t watched a Celtics video in a couple of years, but here are some of the things that we’re doing.” And you can do those teaser type of things to send people back to your website or to say, “Don’t forget, you can get it in the mobile app and consume all our videos.” So it’s a really good way to reengage your audience to show the stuff you’ve tried doing on the video platforms. Because so many people in your position and sometimes, when you get to the scale, it’s not a big deal but you’ve still got these K.P.I.s. And there will be people higher up saying, “What are our video views? How are our page views? What visitors are we getting?”

And so, it goes against the grain to say, “We’re going to go put it on Facebook.” Because, yeah. It’s not your backyard. It’s not your land, that you’re doing it on Facebook’s land. But sometimes, you’ve got to use that to say, “Hey, don’t forget, we have got this killer content. We haven’t been showing it to you on this platform because they haven’t provided a really good video player. But now we can.” And it will just engage them to watch more and will start driving people back to your site.

Peter Stringer: No question. And just looking at our metrics for the month of August alone, we’re pretty dramatic in terms of the amount of reach we were getting on videos compared to regular posts. For our articles, we were doing about 3%, 4% reach. Our videos in August did almost 10% reach which is a huge difference when you’re talking about an audience of eight and a half million.

Sean Stringer: Exactly, exactly. And I think if I’m not mistaken, there was an article recently just by the Facebook newsroom talking about the latest on video and pretty much saying, like you just said, a billion. But also, the effect the auto-play is having on the video views and what people are doing. I guess a tip for everybody is, have the settings it’s not auto-playing on your data because it would be a few that would shock Telco bills when they check their data plans. If everyone is now pushing out videos, you’ve got to make sure it’s only auto-playing on WiFi. Otherwise, you’ll just completely cream your data pack on your mobile.

Peter Stringer: Right. To that end, we’re going to keep looking at that because who knows? They may change their minds in a month and say, “You know what? People are really complaining about their data plans. “And so, it may be that they change their attitude on the auto-play and things different, and so we’ll go in a different direction if that’s what the strategy calls for.

Sean: You told me before about being responsive and the mobile nature of the fan now, that the fact that a lot of your content will be getting consumed on mobile. A lot of the content that people are seeing on Facebook is from a mobile point of view. You’ve developed the Celtics app. I remember talking to you in Boston when I was there for seat, “Hey, you were putting that together.” And that was back in 2012. And it was a bit of a, “Why are we building an app? We’re doing an app because everyone else is doing an app.” Not quite sure what it was going to become. And from that experience, you’ve sort of started getting to that. . .talked a little bit about Home Court Advantage and what that offers and why it drives people back to the app each week.

Peter Stringer: Yeah. So Home Court Advantage is a program we launched in conjunction with American Express last year. It’s a live-streaming pregame mobile show half an hour long. And it has a couple different functions. One, I think we came into last year kind of knowing that we had a team with a roster in shift, in transition, obviously. We had a few of our big stars move on to other teams. And so, one of the things we were looking to do is we needed to come up with a way to build interest in our team. And just let people know ,”Hey, we’re playing tonight. “And I think that was a big motivating factor for us, so driving changing awareness.

And so, the mobile app is ideal for that, for a couple of different reasons. One, certainly fans have that thing in their hands from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep. And I always say people have an intimate relationship with their phone because they take it everywhere. They go everywhere with it. It’s always on their purse and they don’t let it out of their sight. And so, it’s a great way for us to reach fans and remind them, whether it’s with a push notification and say, “Hey, we’re playing tonight. Here’s a live pregame show from the TD Garden. So you can catch up, listen to Coach Stevens pre-game presser, all those types of things. It’s a really great way for us to reach our highest value fans who are really engaged and make sure that they stay with us and they’re dialed in throughout the season.

I think the other big thing is obviously more and more of our continent being consumed on the mobile device. Like you said, our websites’ evolved and switched over to responsive design to accommodate for that. And I think teams across the league are seeing it. It’s anywhere from 40% to 60% of their website traffic now is starting to become on the mobile device. Not to mention just your app itself and the amount of traction we were getting on the app.

And so, increasingly the sports fans and Celtics fans, we’re having those conversations. They’re viewing content on that device. And so, whereas a couple of years ago, it wasn’t as clear as to why we needed to have an app. I think now, it’s a very clear way for us to reach our fan in a place where there are spending a ton of time.

And I think that’s the thing. Whether it’s Facebook or the mobile app, you’ve got to reach fans where they’re spending time. And for us, Facebook is a big place where they’re spending time, Twitter is a big place, Instagram and on the mobile app as well.

Sean: And the thing with the mobile app, that there was a great picture tweeted by Banksy or at least I think it’s Banksy’s account. The mobile phone it effectively had roots coming out of it and pretty much integrating into our hands, which is exactly that relationship you were just discussing. It’s always within reach. It’s always within a meter of your person.

So it’s just that relation that’s getting tighter. And the fact that what I liked about Home Ground Advantage is it gives a reason for the fans to check back in into the app and that’s one of the big concerns. When you’re building an app for a sports team is why are they going to go to our app? There are so many options both from a league level, from a media partner, whether it is Fox or ESPN, to consume everything around the barrier or any particular sport. The team, specifically, has to provide something in their app to get them in. And it’s either that check-in style appointment viewing type of thing with the pregame show you’ve got with Home Ground Advantage. Or it’s that utility type of thing which we’ve seen with some of the venues where the app changes when you’re entering the venue and it becomes the utility day to watch replays in the stadium or find out where the closest concession or the shortest line, that kind of thing. It’s something you’ve really got to make sure that your app has that function for your fans to open it up and come back all the time.

Peter Stringer: Yeah, no question. I think for us, the arena integration is a piece that we’re looking at a little closer now. We don’t own and operate the TD Garden where we play. We’re tenants there and so we don’t have complete control over the infrastructure in that building. But certainly, when you talk about iBeacon, for instance, I can imagine in the not-too-distant future where if you’re riding up the escalator to your seats upstairs, we may hit you on the iBeacon and send an alert to your app and tell you, “Hey, there’s seats available downstairs for a premium.” and offer fans the opportunity to upgrade their seats for a few dollars more. Sitting upstairs, you want to spend a little bit more, come downstairs and have a better seat, have a better experience. Those types of things that we can accomplish by understanding, “All right, we know this telephone is going up to the balcony because of the Beacon technology. Let’s see how we can bring them downstairs and make that offer.”

For us, it helps us move maybe unsold inventory, helps the fan get a better spot. And really, I think that’s probably the most powerful thing we can do from a revenue standpoint as a team but also just increasing the fan experience. Because at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to sit closer to the court, right? That’s ultimately what fans always want to have, is a closer view of the action. And so, if we can help facilitate that for fans who might be coming in on the first time and have the app downloaded on their phone, I think that’s a pretty powerful plan and I think most teams will be looking at that this year and the coming years as we go forward.

Sean: Yeah, I was talking to Kevin Cote at the Warriors and they actually did implement that in their stadium. That exact scenario you said at the top of the escalators on the top level, little ping on the phone that says, “Would you like to upgrade?” And it’s really important that those kind of. . .it’s not intrusive, it’s like adding value to the fan. It’s not just, “Hey, welcome.” Or it’s not just, “Buy our stuff.” or “Here’s a sponsor message.” It’s really valuable to the fan and increases that fan experience, gets them to come back to multiple games.

Pete Stringer: No question. I think when you think about how you’re going to address the fan. . .you have to respect the fact that yes, this phone is in their hand constantly. They do have an intimate relationship with it, like I said. But at the same time, you have to respect the fact that you can’t just spam them with messages and marketing and content every single time they look at their phone when they come in the building. So you want to be adding value and I think that’s really something that we think about. With regard to any content that we generate or any type of digital initiative where we’re going to take that opportunity to reach out to our fans, we want to be bringing them value every single time we do that.

Sean: Well, the other reason I want to talk you, not only in your role in the Boston Celtics, but recently, you’ve started your own podcast Media Masters. And you can find it at on iTunes and SoundCloud. How have you found jumping into the world of podcasting?

Peter Stringer: It’s been an interesting ride. It’s been something for me, I always make a point of trying to keep in touch with people who are thought leaders in the business and the industry. Not just in sports, but just an industry in general. And so, much of the thrust of that has been, “Hey, this is a good excuse to get back in touch with people who I talk to here and there.” Whether I text or e-mail with them and talk about issues that are facing people in digital and media.

But also, kind of talk about their career path and kind of how they got to where they are and what are the lessons they’ve learned along the way. And what I found is that everyone’s story is different and I’m fascinated to find out, everything from talking to Bonnie Bernstein who is one of the most famous sportscasters in the country. Probably ten years ago, was at the height of her powers and now, she’s taken her career in a different direction, launching into a Digital Network Campus Insider. Having that conversation with her and talking about what she learned from her early career and how she applies that now to a completely new digital business has been fascinating.

Talking to somebody like Dan Harbison who spent nine, 10 years with the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, is in the casino marketing industry at Caesars. Everything from that, from talking to a friend of mine Brad Rutter, who’s the greatest Jeopardy! Player of all time, and talking to him about winning the million dollar term at Battle of the Decades. And talking about how he approaches Jeopardy. It’s funny. When you think about. . .you have these conversations with people. It may not necessarily be a direct parallel to your own business but when you hear of their journey and kind of what their approach is and how they’ve solved problems, there’s a lot to be learned from speaking with people who are kind of leaders in their field. And so, really, that’s been the idea with the name Media Masters. The idea is that these are people who are masters of the medium that they’re in.

And I’ve had a blast just having the conversations. I don’t think it’s anything. I don’t envision myself becoming a full-time podcaster by any stretch. It’s just really more of a hobby than anything. Although, I’ve learned it’s a very time-heavy hobby in terms of the amount of time it takes to go through and edit the podcasts down and put them together and make them suitable for download. But I’m having a lot of fun with it and it’s been good. And I think for me now, it’s kind of just figuring out who to bring on the show next. I think I’ve done about 16, 17 episodes over the last four or five months, and we’ll see where it goes from here.

Sean: Yeah, exactly. I’m the same. The fact is, just talking to different people, you find out their different background. Especially in this space and again, I’ve got a daughter that’s now in college. And five years ago, a lot of the people that we’re talking to and a lot of people in the industry that might be listening, these jobs did not even exist. So it’s really, you can’t go to a college and say, “I want to be trained for this role.” because they didn’t exist. You’ve got people like you and I that come from a techie background and we were able to dive into the HTML and the coding and that kind of thing, to having guys that come from a journalistic content-type of background. You have video people coming in. And everyone is sort of evolved in the industry to find their space on what they’re doing. And that’s the thing. There are so many different roads that can lead to this area. So it does provide fascinating listening and just discussion to find out how people are going.

And also, the applicable of what is happening in other industries as well as sports. I’ve met with Dan Harbison and had him on the show as well. Everything that he learned and did at the Trail Blazers is being applied in a completely different manner. In a new industry in Vegas, in the hotel, and entertainment industry. But it’s fascinating to hear what’s working in that space. And then, how you can flip it back and use it at the Celtics or use it with your sports team.

Peter Stringer: Oh, yeah, no question. I’m thinking about some of the people I’ve had on like, Just Jolio, from Dunkin’ Donuts. And obviously doughnuts are very different than sports but there are a lot of parallels in terms of the way that they market to their fans.

I spoke with Chris Nowinski who is a former WWE wrestler, Harvard football player. And basically, he has become a one-man crusade to fight the concussion crisis in pro sports. It’s fascinating to hear him tell the story of how it went from him being a wrestler who was basically retired because of this problem to then starting up this entire foundation and seeking out experts in the field to gain as much information. It was just a fascinating story about how it was so personal for him, it’s become this entire crusade. And the amount of work he’s put into it, and he’s changing lives. It’s really fascinating to talk to people like that. And then, just random stories. Somebody like Lindsay McCormick who’s a sportscaster here and spent the year last season on the Sunday Night Football bus going all over the country living on a bus as kind of a social media correspondent for the games.

In talking to all of these people, you hear their unique stories. It’s inspiring in one way, but also just. . .there’s a lot to be learned from people who have kind of figured out a way to emerge in their field. And a lot of unique tactics that maybe aren’t necessarily something the average person would think about. But I think if there’s any thread that kind of ties all the people I’ve brought onto the show is that they’re all kind of highly-motivated people, but they’re also, in many cases, people who have thought outside the box or saw an opportunity and jumped on it. That’s what I find inspiring and that’s what I love uncovering on those podcasts.

Sean: Your last podcast with Caity Kauffman from the Tampa Bay Lightning, I liked her discussion. And then, when you tapped in on talking about Facebook ads, she just. . .

Peter Stringer: Oh, yeah, she’s got that stuff locked down. Caity is a rising star and I’m curious to see where she’ll end up next in her career because she’s super bright. I learned a lot from just having that quick conversation about Facebook ads. Something that we the Celtics are starting to dive into. And so, that was just as much educational for me, having that conversation and then following up with her off the air and getting some more information and picking her brain. Again, the thing from our standpoint, I’ve got a lot more experience in the industry but I don’t have the specialized experience that she has in that particular field.

And so, to be able to pick her brain and learn from that and hopefully help a lot of other people listen to that podcast and learn just a touch about what that is all about and to be able to pick up some of that knowledge from her. . .that’s fantastic and it’s great for her. Again, talking about a rising star, she’ll be. . .I can’t wait to see what she ends up doing because she’s going to be somewhere, and she’s a player in the industry, for sure.

Sean: Yeah. I listened to that one. And I was loving it because I’m all in on all the analysis you can do around your Facebook insights. But then, the things that you can do with an ad to both sell tickets, promote your sponsored content. And the fact that she’s got just in her role, it’s not just the Lightning. She’s also working with the venue. She is in that spot where one week, she’s selling tickets to Rod Stewart and then the next week, she’s trying to sell people to go to the Lightning or to those kind of things. The laser focus that you can get with the Facebook ad stuff. It’s creepy, as a user but as a marketer, it’s really awesome as far as what Mr. Zuckerberg allows us to do and allows us to target. There are some really cool options in that space.

Peter Stringer: Yeah, no question. Again, the opportunities to learn from people who have similar jobs. But in her case, it’s very different, as I mentioned, with the arena. I believe they have an Arena Football team as well tied to the business. You can talk to Jeramie McPeek over at the Suns. He’s been with the Suns for 20 years and it started out working in the pro shop, him telling me that story was just hilarious to hear how he got involved with the Suns.

And there seems to be no shortage of anecdotes, or Alex Restrepo who’s over at the New Orleans Saints. And we did a whole podcast basically talking about why they use Snapchat. And I’ve got to be honest with you, I wasn’t much of a believer in Snapchat heading into it, but I had to kind of reconsider my thoughts on it after having that conversation with him. And so, again, I’ve learned something from every interview I’ve done in that space and that’s my goal is to continue to do that. And apply those techniques and tactics to what I do here at the Celtics.

Sean: So the season ahead, you’re in planning mode. There is no offseason in digital. There’s always something. . .

Peter Stringer: There really isn’t.

Sean: You’ve got to keep the interlink gods happy and keep content coming out. What are some of the plans that you can talk about for the season ahead? What are you looking to do from a Celtics digital point of view?

Peter Stringer: I think the biggest thing, again, for us, from a content generation standpoint. Like I said, I’ve got a team of five people who are all full-time, dedicated at creating content. I’m in the process of adding a few more people to my team and we’re going to continue to crank out more content than we ever have before.

I think two years ago, we did about 15 hours of video content. I believe last year, we did over 50 hours of original video content on all our digital properties and platforms. We’re going to continue to do that. So I expect to have even more content this year. And so, really, there’s no specific platform or specific social media outlet or anything that we’re really focusing on. I would say it’s going to be just more content about the team going forward than we’ve ever done before.

We want to bring Celtics fans closer to the guys who play on that team. At the end of the day, you want people to care about the people on your team and build that relationship. And so, the more we can let them inside the lives of these guy. . .who are these guys on and off the court and grow that attachment to them. I think the more they’re going to be willing to want to spend the money to come to the arena and experience the games live. So that’s a big part of it. And for my group, our function in terms of developing content around these players, whether it’s covering practice, whether it’s covering games or behind the scenes features and talking about their lifestyles and what they like, what they don’t like, all those types of things. That’s really where my group is focused on in terms of bringing Celtics fans closer to the team.

Sean: Exactly. In the end, we’re seeing a real big shift from teams being tagged as digital. But really, they’re more content and editors and seeing them as, to take your term Media Masters, but to tell the story. And that’s your job to tell the story. You’ve got a great story there with the history of the Celtics and all the championships and that kind of thing. But now, you’ve also got to tell the story of the team. Help the fans fall in love with all the players on the team. Know everyone from the star down to the 12th man. Because the fan that is all in wants those stories. I guess one thing I wanted to. . .you’re sort of pushing your chips in on video, which everyone is doing. And when you’re seeing startups like 120Sports come out and more and more people are consuming these two-minute videos, do you think there’s any stopping that or is video just going to keep going? The appetite for video is still there, it hasn’t been satisfied?

Peter Stringer: No, I think the appetite for video is not going away. At the end of the day, I think video is just such a more powerful medium than the written word can be for a number of different reasons. Obviously, the time it takes to consume it is generated less. I can watch a 30 second video in 30 seconds and learn a lot. You can tell a story there quickly that maybe you can’t do in 800 words, 1200 words or whatever it might be. There’s really no substitute for visual. And I think if you look around the popularity of social media platforms. Why is Instagram so popular? Because it’s a visual communication medium. At the end of the day especially in sports which is already highly visual, the ability to communicate in a visual manner. You’re seeing why Facebook is favoring photos and videos. Those are getting much more distribution in the EdgeRank news feed. That’s not going to stop.

And so, I think for us, that’s where we need to be in terms of telling our story visually. As you’re seeing, even new iPhones are coming out tomorrow with bigger screens. And why are they coming out with bigger screens? Because people are staring at it and they’re spending more and more time on the phone. And so, if you’re going to be looking at it, it’s got to be in a comfortable experience. So I think bigger phones are going to lead to more times spent viewing video.

Sean: And the thing is, I think hopefully, leagues get out of the way of themselves. We’ve seen recently, both at the World Cup, recently at the recent Premier League deal and things like that and even the Ryder Cup where they’ve tried to stop fans sharing clips and taking clips at games and stopping them sharing video. I think it’s something you can’t stop and leagues just need to realize that it is going to happen but it does help fans want to come back to your sites. Just because you quickly see someone who’s Vine’d a dunk on Vine or Instagrammed a video straight off their TV, it’s only going to deepen that relationship. Eventually, they’re going to come back to the properties because it’s going to be too hard to manage. And the leagues just pretty much have to throw their hands up and let it go, don’t you think?

Peter Stringer: Yeah. It’s one of those things where, obviously, from our standpoint, if people are going to watch highlights, we’d rather they watch our highlights than maybe some bootlegged highlights or something along those lines. But at the end of the day– and I can’t speak for the NBA or leagues, in general. I think that’s up to them to describe their philosophy on it. But I think you have to realize that you’re in a world now where you’ve got an HD video production studio in your hand now. And what you can accomplish in terms of capturing, it’s funny. I remember going to a U2 concert back in 2001 and taking a video camera there and they didn’t want you shooting video with your video camera. And I remember somebody from the tour coming over to me and saying, “Hey, you can’t use that video camera in here.” It’s just a little handheld palm camera and I captured some footage from the show.

Here we are in 2014 and your phone can do that. And what are they going to tell everybody, put their phones away? That they can’t shoot footage of the concert? Obviously, from a policing standpoint, it’s pretty much impossible to stop it from where it was. But the reality is, yeah, the video that you can capture, the content that you can capture with your phone is so much drastically different, even in the last three or four years now, that there’s not really anything that leagues can do about it.

It’s funny. A lot of arenas won’t let you bring in a professional lens for a camera. Ostensibly because they didn’t want you capturing photos that were high enough quality that you could resell or somehow monetize. Again, no-one is really bringing an SLR into the game as a fan, but they’re certainly bringing their cameras in and taking video and snapshots and whatnot. And some of them, obviously, the quality are not going to be great.

Again, I don’t know that you can police that really well. But at the end of the day– if fans are seeing the Celtics in their stream, whether it’s from photos that I’ve taken or our team photographer’s taken or just a fan that’s at the building– at the end of the day, I think it’s a good thing that fans are seeing our product in their timeline, in their stream. Because it’s reminding them, “Hey, that’s a Celtics game. That’s a place I want to be.” But again, policies differ from league to league and I can’t speak with much authority on that. That’s up to the leagues to speak about but I think just, in general, it’s good for fans to see our product in their timeline, in their streams on their phone, so the Celtics are on their brain.

Sean: That’s why Instagram has blown up so big, because people want to take a photo when they’re at a game. They want to brag to their friends and they can take that shot. And it’s only good for your brand because it enhances the live experience. It’s like you have to be there. You can’t take that shot from your lounge room. You can’t take that shot from a bar. If you’re at the game and you see that historic shot or the crowd going off, you want that shared. Although, I do agree with the guys at Manchester United, more on the point of rules against stupidity, where they’ve banned iPads because too many people were holding them up and recording whole games and blocking the view. They look quite silly when people holding up iPads to take shots and videos. But that was primarily because they were blocking people’s views. I think common sense will prevail in that kind of stuff because you can’t police that.

Thank you very much for coming on the podcast. People can find you. . .Where’s the best place for people to find you?

Peter Stringer: Probably on Twitter. Just @peterstringer is the easiest place. And you mentioned the Media Masters podcast on Twitter. That’s @MediaMastersPod or You can certainly find it in the iTunes store. Go ahead and subscribe. Like it, provide a review and hopefully, Sean, we’re going to have to have you on the podcast as well. You’ve got a wealth of experience in this space and I’m sure I can pick your brain on a million different things. So we’ll have to get a time for you to call me back and we’ll have you on there as well.

Sean: Definitely. Go to SoundCloud, Stitcher, iTunes, all the good podcast outlets. And be a good podcast listener. Leave a review on iTunes, both for Pete and if you want to give one to me, that’d be great as well.

Thank you very much for coming on the podcast. And I’m more than happy to catch up another time for another chat.

Peter Stringer: All right, let’s do it. We’ll get it on the books. Thanks, Sean.

Sean: Cheers, mate.

D.J. Joel: Sign up for sports geek news at

Sean: Thanks again to Pete Stringer there from the Boston Celtics and from Media Masters Podcast. is where you can find it. And as I said there, in the end of the interview, available in all good podcasting outlets. And some really good discussions with both people in the sports digital industry and also, those, I would say, adjacent to in the media space. They’re always good to listen and learn from other industries.

What are your thoughts on what we discussed there? especially on the Facebook video. We discussed some stuff around what Facebook had just released. In fact, they’ve serving up a billion videos in some of the stats that they’re released. That was only launched only a couple of hours before Pete and I had the chat.

Definitely something you want to be keeping an eye on the trends. If you’ve been listening to this podcast, I’ve been banging on a bit about it. And it’s also part of the Seat eBook where I talk about the Socceroos reaching 7.2 million people with their videos around the World Cup. I had to catch up with some of the guys at Facebook last week and pretty much confirmed everything that I’ve been seeing and saying around the video. They are making a big play into that space and really looking to take a little bit off the market share off YouTube. So as Pete said, they eventually will run ads. So while they’re making this change, make the most of it, get that engagement up and get some videos out. All the NFL teams have been doing a lot in that space as the season has kicked off. So I expect more to do that and I expect more to do it in the AFL, and NRL final season.

Especially those are the ones that we are working with. On ABC Grandstand this week, I caught up with Andrew who is filling in for Francis. And we discussed the celeb hacking scandal that sort of took over the Internet. And really looked at it from a point of view of what does it mean for athletes and sports teams as far as security?

Francis: So I talk security issues today with both Twitter and Facebook and all forms of social media. Something ,which is pertinent both to celebrities, but also to everyday Australians who are obviously using these technologies more and more. Talk to us about some of the issues that run along with that?

Sean: Yeah. I guess part of what triggered this discussion is the iCloud hack that happened with celebrities during the week where the iCloud was backed up and it was really good to see the Daily Mail clear it up for everybody. They put it in the newspaper to see the Cloud. Not an actual cloud, just to make sure for everyone. But it’s actually,what it is, what the technology is that the iPhone, when you sign up, it will automatically back up your photos and everything that you’re doing, which is great. If you’re taking photos of your baby and precious moments of your kid’s concert or you’re at the footy and you take a shot and you want it backed up, because you lose your phone, you drop it or whatever, great idea. But the thing is, if you don’t want that to happen, it’s also doing it as well. So that was one of the main issues. That all of these celebrities had iCloud turned on and it was saving all of their things that they were doing. And if they’re not doing things that they didn’t want shared, that was the issue.

Apple has come out and said iCloud wasn’t hacked, their specific accounts were hacked. I guess the lesson for anyone is don’t have really bad passwords. Normally, the first thing I do when I’m talking to anyone, whether it’s an athlete, a club, a brand is, have super-strong passwords and a super-strong password isn’t on a Post-It note next to your monitor. It doesn’t include your dog or your birthday, so there’s all those things. There are tools that can help generate those type passwords for you.

Francis: Tell us the criteria. If someone was making a password for the first time for social media, what would you recommend it?

Sean: This is not a password for social media. This is a password for your router, for your bank, anything. It should be 20 characters, impossible to read, hard to type out. You have to write it down to figure it out and type it in and it’s got to be hard. If it has any connotation of names and birthdays and dogs, that’s where pretty much, again, all reports, the hackers that went after these accounts did it by pure brute force. So they pretty much just tried everything and pretty much ran an algorithm over it to say, “We’re going to try this and this and this.” and eventually, they cracked it. Whereas if it’s 20 characters long, has uppercase, has lowercase, has symbols, not recognizable, the chances diminish quite quickly.

The other thing you can do with a lot of services is to factor authentication. So that is when you both have a password, but your phone will get a message or an SMS with a code. So the person who is logged in has your phone. Again, if they have those kind facilities on your account, then if someone is trying to hack it with brute force, you will get a notification. And that will stop it right there and then because you’re the one with your phone.

It’s always something that when I’m doing training with athletes, is I’m saying, “Well, you’ve got to secure your presence online. You’ve got to realize what you’re doing, where it ends up.” So whether it’s in something like the iCloud or whether it’s using an app that you think, “Oh, this is private. No one will see this. This is direct messages on Twitter.” or “I’m using WhatsApp and just the group, it’s just the players using it.” That might be fine and you might think it’s okay, but then I’ll ask them and I’ve done this a couple of times to groups of professional athletes. I say, “What if someone loses their phone?” forgetting all the hacking in the world. If player x leaves his phone in the cafe, he doesn’t have a lock on it, and someone can open that phone, open the app, they will see the entire conversation on the whole team. They will see all the photos shared with WhatsApp. So that’s one of the major concerns and you should see the blood rush from their face when you put that to a bunch of Australians. They’re like, “We’re okay.” and then I say, “And what if your girlfriend gets that?”

They just have that normal locker room banter and they think it’s fine. But again, or what if a journalist gets it? Automatically, they sort of see the consequences. So there’s those kind of things, securities on multiple levels. So there’s security that you can do from a password point of view. There’s understanding the services where your presence hit. And it’s not just Apple and iCloud and iPhones. Google, for instance, keeps track of everywhere you’ve been. And you can go in and say, “Hey, Google.” and you can do it personally. It keeps it all inside your own account. But anything in that mean can be hacked and found out. You can go into your Google account if you’ve got it tracking and telling you where you are. And it will actually plot where you’ve walked, driven, been everywhere like on a map. So again, that’s another issue potentially for you.

So you can close down a lot of these services to say, “Don’t track me, don’t send it to the Cloud,” all of that kind of stuff. But it’s all about finding out and using the right apps in that sense.

Francis: How do you find the right app?

Sean: So probably a good example is things like WhatsApp, It’s a messaging app that people think, “It’s cool. It’s private” and stuff like that. But WhatsApp has been bought by Facebook. And we sort of know the, I don’t want to plot them but they’re very loose with what they consider is privacy. That’s probably a good way of putting it. They change their privacy rules a lot.

But then, you’ve also got the concern of anytime you send someone something in WhatsApp, they’ve got it. So you don’t decide that, “I don’t want that out there anymore.” they’ve already got it. So if I send you a message in WhatsApp, you can save it. You can save it to your phone. You can say, “Hey, look what I got from Sean.” So that’s a concern, too. Your privacy is only as good as your friends. Or only as good as the person you’re sending it to.

So Snapchat is another one where people can send photos and they’re meant to auto-destruct, Mission Impossible style. You’re saying that this is going to destruct as soon as you move your thumb. It doesn’t. One, it ends up in the memory of the phone. It’s still on Snapchat servers. And there are apps that are called Snap Save, Snap, and people can save the Snaps. So you send a Snap and we’re seeing videos and that kind of thing from athletes get saved, sent to mates. Goes viral via e-mail and things like that and it ends up in the press.

So again, you’re in this space of you’re thinking it’s okay, you’re thinking I’m doing the right thing of sending something backwards and forwards. It might be risqué or it might be off-color or whatever. But it can be saved. And Mark Cuban, who is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a tech guy has built an app called Cyber Dust that’s trying to fix that problem. And so, what Cyber Dust is, it’s exactly the same. It’s a messaging app but it is truly super secure. So you send something. One, you can’t screen shot it or anything but then, it just disappears. So it has that security of, “I know I’m sending you something.” but as soon as you’ve read it, it’s gone. And too bad, so sad, you can’t keep it.

So I think there will be more and more, that secure messaging space where there is no digital footprint. And that’s pretty much his pitch because he was holed. . .the S.E.C. was chasing him over allegations of trading and things like that. And they were using his digital footprint of tweets and texts that he’d sent and taking them out of context and trying to build a case.

And so, that was his impetus to do it. But from an athlete point of view, if you’re just trying to text someone or have a normal conversation with someone you think is your friend or is your current partner. At some point, they might not be. And that always becomes an issue later. That I’ve sent that message or I’ve sent that photo or whatever it is. They’ve got it, they own it, when really, and it’s yours.

D.J. Joel: Want to understand Facebook advertising options? Go to

Sean: Yes, love to hear from you if you’re looking to sell more tickets, more membership, more merchandise. Get your sponsor promotions out there, we’re doing a lot with our clients around Facebook advertising, helping them understand the space. Understand the costs of the space. But also, understand the opportunities, as I said with Pete.

As a marketer, it’s scary good. The laser type of focus you can do. Targeting people to visit your website, consume your content on your e-mail lists, opening your e-mails, engaging with your content. There are so many different things that you can do in quite a cost-effective way. You don’t have to spend thousands. If I can give one piece of advice, please do not use Boostpost. That is effectively just donating money to Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a waste of money. So that’s my public service announcement for this week. Don’t use Boostpost. It’s all about the power editor.

A couple of things to wrap up. On our discussion with security and understanding that as I’ve said before, secure passwords are a must. I am now on Cyber Dust, if you want to add me and send me a message, Sean Callanan. It’s exactly the same as my Twitter handle. I will be more than happy to connect and have a discussion there because you cannot take a screenshot and use it elsewhere. And that’s the idea behind it.

So I think it actually might be a platform that athletes might start using. But again, it’s not going to have that viral nature, but it might be a good way to communicate with fans. It’d be interesting to see what’s your space with the teams, jump on board. It’d be interesting to see what the Mavericks do with Cyber Dust.

This week’s social media post of the week goes to NASCAR, using Facebook video to promote their new Sprint Cup series. Here’s a snippet.

Sean: You can watch that full video on NASCAR’s Facebook page I did share it on the Sports Geek page. As I said, great way for you to reach your fans by using video and as you can see throughout your feed, plenty of teams doing it. So if you’ve got something to launch and you want to get your fans fired up, especially with an educational piece like what NASCAR are trying to do, they’re launching a completely new concept, great way of doing it with Facebook video.

Okay, that clock is telling me to wind this episode up. This is episode 59. You can find the show notes and links to things we discussed on the show like Pete Stringer’s podcast at As well, you can find it on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher. Your reviews, retweets are very much appreciated.

This week’s sound of the game comes from the Australian Ice Hockey League Grand Final. This is the final minute where the Mustangs got up, beating their crosstown rivals, the Melbourne Ice.

Sean: Thanks to Robert Bannerman, the Commissioner of the Australian Ice Hockey League for inviting me along to the grand final. A packed Medibank Icehouse saw the Mustangs win their first championship 6-1. It was a rout in the end, but fun was had by all.

That’s it from me for this week. If you haven’t got the SEAT eBook and you haven’t signed up, you can do so at If you’re on the list and you haven’t got it, please just send me an e-mail, happy to pass it on.

Also another initiative, I’ve started my own Facebook page which will be very similar to my Twitter account in sharing some of the content. A bit more long form, more than 140 characters. If you feel like liking that, you can. Just simply go to

Until next week, my name is Sean Callanan, from Sports Geek. Cheers.

D.J. Joel: Check out which teams work at Sports Geek at Find all Sports Geek podcasts and Please a review on iTunes. Go to Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

Winning a Super Bowl, what is it like for the digital team? – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

Kenton Olson chats about Seahawks DigitalWhat @SportsGeek reads…..

Why Google’s CEO only buys companies that pass his crazy toothbrush test.

Ever tried networking when you’ve lost your voice?

What is it like running a digital team in lead up to Super Bowl?

It’s over: The rise & fall of google authorship for search results

Why it’s a mistake to piggyback on someone else’s business

How this man built a $3M business a year after four years in prison.

This is how the NFL is getting butts back in the bleachers

“Football passport” A great digital addition as the season kicks off…

AFL club memberships hit record mark but ACCC not happy.

See 43 years of Nike sneaker evolution in “The genealogy of innovation” video.

How iCloud flaw caused nude celeb pictures leak (this should concern coaches and agents)

Here’s a map of every device connected to the Internet

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Wednesday 3rd September 2014

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SGP 058: Kenton Olson on Seahawks, Super Bowl & 12s

Kenton Olson chats about Seahawks DigitalLast time I caught up with Kenton Olson he was in the midst of a playoff run that saw the Seahawks win the Super Bowl. We discuss that experience and what they are planning for the season ahead.  On ABC Grandstand I chat with Francis Leach about the rumours that Google should be a bidder on upcoming AFL media rights.

On this podcast you’ll learn about:

  • What it is like running digital around the Super Bowl
  • What platform grabbed fan’s attention and engagement in Super Bowl lead up
  • Why the simplest content is sometimes the best
  • How the Seahawks digital team are ready to step up as Super Bowl champs
  • Why Google is interested in sports TV rights
  • Why the NBA turned away Google

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Podcast Transcription

Sean: Welcome to episode 58 of the Sports Geek podcast. NFL season is almost upon us and we catch up with the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. We’ll talk to Kenton Olson about Super Bowl week and the season ahead and NFL media rights. Is it time to Google it?

DJ Joe: Welcome to the Sports Geek podcast, the podcast built for the Sports Digital Marketer. And now here’s your host who just reset the Twitter password for your favorite athlete, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks DJ Joe. Passwords, it is something that I regularly do when starting out with a team or an athlete is to get them to change their password. It might be an easy to remember password, it might be easy to type, but it definitely will not be the most secure password. So if you’re a team that has a password that includes the mascot name, potentially maybe the year your team was formed, I highly suggest you go and change those passwords to a stronger password. Fifteen characters, multiple variations, not easy to read.

It may be an inconvenience when you have to sign into a Twitter account, which we do once a year, if that. It’s really important to have those passwords strong. The last thing you want to do is have your account hacked on any platform. That also goes for Facebook. So you’re personal Facebook account has to have a strong password because that is the way that potential hackers will try to get access to your page. So there you go, I’m going to get off my set box.

On today’s show I catch up with a former guest. We caught up with him in the playoffs last year – Kenton Olson from the Seattle Seahawks. We’re going to have a chat about what it was like going through the Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks and what he learned from it. And then later in my chat with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand we talk about NFL media rights and how Google is becoming a player in the Sports Media landscape and potentially might be a bidder for future league rights, not only in Australia but around the world. But first, here’s my chat with Kenton Olson from the Seattle Seahawks.

Very happy to welcome a previous guest who was on the podcast who joined me during the NFL playoffs last year and I’m going to catch up with him before the NFL season. Kenton Olson from the Seattle Seahawks, welcome to the podcast.

Kenton Olson: Sean, good to be with you again.

Sean: And last time we caught up with you, you were in the midst of the NFL playoffs. I think it was a couple of days before the NFC championship game. You had a couple of big weeks after that. Do you want to sort of take us through the whole Super Bowl experience and running an NFL digital team through that Super Bowl experience?

Kenton Olson: Yeah, I can certainly do my best. It was obviously, to say the least, definitely a blur. It seemed like it went so quick even though it was over three weeks there if you include the NFC championship game. We pretty much were on social media 24/7. As soon as that final whistle blew at the NFC championship game through the parade, I think it was the second or third week in February. We had our entire staff travel out to New York with the team and we were fully plugged in. I think a very big piece that we spent a lot of our effort focusing on during the Super Bowl run was really the interaction and responses to fans. I always noticed that a lot of sports teams, us in the past for sure, are always really good about talking about ourselves, but it is social media so it is really important that we actually engage with our community, so we had multiple people around the clock 24 hours a day just interacting with our fans and I think we did a really good job with that.

Sean: When you’re in that type of period, and we’ve been through final periods with teams, it’s really tough because it’s not only the national attention of the media that is on the Super Bowl, but it’s international, so you’ve got a really unique point of view because you have the access to the teams and the fans just want to feel a part of it. So do you think that whole doing the social connection, but then producing so much more content really got your fans? They’re going to be in, we talked about them being tapped in, but do you think that really sort of locked them in and still made this a destination for all your fans?

Kenton Olson: Yeah, absolutely. I think there were a couple of things that we focused on. I think, one, we were literally on the opposite side of the country. Seattle and New York, you can’t get much further away from Seattle than New York. I suppose if you went down to Florida, maybe. So for us it was really important to connect with all of our Seahawks fans back here at home, but then also all around the world. So we did a lot of behind the scenes access with photos from practices, interviews with guys all throughout the media days. Basically anything we saw we tried to convey that message and get it back to our folks here in Seattle.

A second piece of our overall content strategy was the fact that the Super Bowl is one that, if you’re a Broncos fan or a Seahawks fan, you certainly have your rooting interest, but a lot of other people didn’t. So for us we had to balance between doing tons of exclusive new content but as well as informing fans, maybe our more casual fans or fans that were new to the Seahawks, more about some different story lines that they’re seeing a lot but maybe don’t know much about. So why does Marshawn Lynch like Skittles? What’s the story behind the number 12? What are all these kinds of different stories that are going on and kind of update fans on those? Some of our most popular content, or our most trafficked content in terms of page views was actually just informing those new fans about some of that content that they may have missed.

Sean: That’s really important. That’s one of the things from my talk that I did. You’ve got the 12s, this super passionate fan base that love everything about the Seahawks and they’ll like and share and take part in things like your Hawk architecture thing where they’re all kidding at their house, but when you do have big events like the Super Bowl you do get all those band wagon fans, or those casual fans, and you’ve still got to produce content for them. So with that kind of stuff you’ve got to make sure that you’re not just producing content for those super avid fans because you know they’ll like it and share it and that kind of thing, but you’ve got this opportunity to reach completely new fans and start them on the journey to becoming more fully fledged Seahawks fans.

Kenton Olson: Yeah, I think absolutely. We’re lucky that we had a lot of eyeballs on us and certainly grew a lot in our social media following. For us the audience we have on social media is a great number. It’s great to say we’re now over 4 million user reads in social media. For us now and for us during the playoffs, which is where we really started focusing on, we looked at every post and we looked at what content was most engaging. So we kind of created an engagement metric around every single individual post we did and that was really helpful to try to figure out that this content is working, this content is not, let’s dial it down here, turn it up there, and that kind of really helped us really engage with our fans and kind of really figure out what works.

Sean: Effectively you built your own edge rank to a certain degree to say this is what we want out of this style post, and this is what the fans like, so you had your own formula of success rather than being a slave to what Facebook says is right or what Twitter says is right. You pretty much came up with your own homegrown formula to say, well, we put out this picture and the fans liked it or we put out this style of post and the fans liked it. Was that sort of what you worked through throughout the playoffs?

Kenton Olson: Yeah, mostly. We work really closely with a company here in Seattle called Simply Measured, and they have a great product and we kind of worked with them and used some of their tools. The way we define engagement, and obviously it’s different for every platform because how you engage in every platform is slightly different. On Twitter it’s a reply or a retweet or a favorite. On Facebook that’s a comment or a share or a like. On Instagram that’s a like your photo or a comment. In Google Plus that’s a different set of metrics altogether. It was really interesting just to see.

One reason we really liked that number, especially with Facebook’s algorithm where you’re not guaranteeing your entire audience is seeing your content, it really kind of helps validate what platforms are actually the most engaging and people are seeing the most content. I can’t remember exactly what our numbers were during the Super Bowl run but I do remember our engagement numbers. At the time we had well over 1 million followers on Facebook and we had just under 500,000 followers on Instagram, so notionally you’d think, oh, you’re going to get a lot more engagements on Facebook, but in reality, for us the average Instagram post during the time leading up to the Super Bowl had 39,700 engagements versus the average post on Facebook, even though we had more followers, of 26,600 engagement. So it was interesting for us just to see that in some ways people are engaging and seeing our content more on Instagram than maybe they are on Facebook or Twitter for that matter.

Sean: Well, you’ve already answered the next question I was going to ask. Was there a platform or a particular place where the content popped? You’ve obviously said in your answer that Instagram was one because it is built for engagement. It doesn’t have any other focus. It’s not like you can say, click this link and go back to our site. It’s a one action for the fan; they just have to double tap, and if you’re putting out content that’s right at the right time that’s all they have to do. There are so many fans who just want to be a part of it and that’s the way that they can go about doing it.

Kenton Olson: Yeah, certainly the platform was interesting but I think just the media that we posted across the platforms was also really, really interesting for us. That was really important for us that we were looking at everything. What content is the most engaging? A lot of people will say the video is in some ways the most engaging but for us during the Super Bowl run, photos were much more engaging, had a much higher engagement metric than the video content did and then obviously more than written content. So for us we just saw the importance of photos. In the past we may have posted out posts on Twitter that didn’t have any media attached and just based on the metrics we’ve shifted and now for the most part, everything we post has a piece of media attached. That really helps grow our engagement on Twitter and just helps guide what kind of content we want to invest our resources in.

Sean: One thing I did want to ask. Post Super Bowl, the way that the media circle works these days, it is a three-week lead up almost to the Super Bowl and it’s covered, ad nauseam almost, but once the result happens the media tends to move on whereas with the team itself the fans still want to revel and celebrate. You had things like the parade. What was it like post Super Bowl for your team as far as trying to figure out the right amount of content to put out and what to cover and how much the fans just kept coming and wanted to sort of still revel in the win?

Kenton Olson: Yeah. I think for us we all are competitors on the field, in the digital space, across leagues even within our league, we’re all resources for each other. I certainly reached out to other teams that had recently won championships and just kind of talked to them about their experience. One thing they all said was that after you win everything explodes, so just trying to keep up on everything. Maybe in the past you can kind of see what social media means or what content is traveling the fastest online. Well in reality everything is just traveling at such a high velocity. For us we basically had our content plan in place. If we win here are the four or five things that we’re going to focus all of our time and effort on and we really focused on that opposed to trying to let the chatter dictate where we went. We just focused on a couple things. We did still have folks on our team and we brought in some folks to assist us help focus on responding to fans and engaging and building morale in the community.

But for us we really focused on four or five things that were really important post game, or at least on the game day itself, and then we obviously built that up as we went throughout the parade. Obviously one of those four of five pieces, we tried to bank on what are things that no one else can get. So for us, granted there were a lot of people in the locker room, but we had a lot of great shots and a lot of great photos and video of guys celebrating in the locker room or walking off the field, from the post-game parties to all kinds of different stuff that in general the media doesn’t have. So we had a lot of success focusing on those.

Sean: Yeah, I was talking to Rich Clarke from Arsenal in Miami and he was talking about the same stuff with their FA Cup win, that some of the content that they produced in the celebration afterwards, and basking in the glory of the win was just as good as the lead up and the win itself, because they were the only ones covering that side of the story, and the fans had an insatiable appetite. They didn’t want the football season to end, it was the best season ever; if you win the Super Bowl you want to continue and revel in that.

Kenton Olson: One thing I want to point out, and I don’t remember the engagement metrics, but it was surprising, some of the things that had the most engagements. If you’ve ever been to our facility here in Renton outside of Seattle, we have Seahawks Way, the street we’re on and we have a sign that says, “Welcome to the Seahawks Complex.” Our facilities guy who’s back here had a guy who was basically ready to install a Super Bowl Champion plaque on that so he sent us that photo as soon as he had put it up, and that was a piece of content that was just shot with a camera phone by a person who was putting up a sign and the people in Seattle just loved seeing that first official piece of the championship back here in Seattle. So there are interesting things like that that you don’t expect to be huge that people get really excited about.

Sean: Well, that’s the thing. It gives your fans the opportunity to show their pride and brag about the win, and it is those small things for as much as we’re always trying to be the first with the news, sometimes those types of local angles or small little pieces are what the fans want to share.

Kenton Olson: Yeah, and I think specifically with social media there’s always the tendency that you have to be a breaking news outlet and I think in a lot of cases you certainly do, but in some cases you’re not going to be the first one to the story. A lot of times it’s what kind of spin or uniqueness can you add to the story and so that’s what we really focused on. Not Super Bowl related, but throughout the course of the regular season we’re not going to be the first ones to necessarily report transactions but we can certainly be the authority to have the official news and maybe get some access that no one else can get ahead of time.

Sean: Much like the players on the field you’re coming back as the returning champs. So from a digital team point of view you’ve got bigger expectations, you’ve got a bigger audience. You said before you had one million on Facebook and now you’re at just over two and half million, so what type of goals do you have coming into this season from a digital team’s point of view? Is there any particular content or platform you’ve got some goals around?

Kenton Olson: Yeah, I think one attitude is to kind of say our audience has grown. It took us five years to get to a million fans and it took us five months to get to two million. That just kind of shows you the hockey stick. For us we’re really taking a lot of the learnings we had during the Super Bowl in terms of focusing on engagement numbers, focusing on interacting and responding with our fans, which is obviously huge. Outside of that a piece that we’re really focused on is just being a mobile first organization across the board.

We’re certainly working on a new platform for a new website that we’re hoping to launch this season, some really great improvements to our mobile application that will be coming this season. We’re finding that a lot of fans don’t consume social media content on their traditional desktop machine; they’re doing it on phones and tablets. For us it’s a tremendous change of philosophy to be a mobile first. That means that with every page we construct we have to think about how it looks on a mobile device first and how it looks on a desktop device second. So just changing that mindset has certainly been a challenge but it’s something we’re focused on.

Sean: Yeah, I think the stats just came out this week that the switch has come over on MLB TV with more being watched on mobile devices than on big screens and stuff like that. Definitely everything is moving into a mobile space and that’s where fans are living, so you’ve got to make sure your content is consumable on those platforms.

Kenton Olson: It’s interesting to me. This is my 8th season, seven years. When I first would go around and talk to someone who didn’t know what I did, they’d go, “Oh, that’s awesome, you do the Seahawks website,” and that was always the first thing they went to. Now the first thing they go to is, “Oh, I have the Seahawks app. I love to check this app, did you do that?” So it’s interesting. I don’t have any metrics but I’d love to know what percentage of our fans maybe never come to our website and just get all of their content via their mobile app or via social media. I think that number would probably be surprisingly large. It’s just interesting in the shift of thinking and the ways that people are consuming our content.

Sean: I did want to ask you, I know that you guys have been sort of posting it away, the recent article in the last couple of days where Facebook has said they’re changing the way that EdgeRank is working again, and they’re trying to get rid of things like click bait and spammy type of headlines. Did you catch that article?

Kenton Olson: Yeah, I did.

Sean: What are your?

Kenton Olson: As a user of Facebook I’m excited about that.

Sean: Definitely, definitely. It’s something that we’d seen as a bit of a trend over the last six months and took a bit of Mark Zuckerberg when he says, “I want Facebook to be the personalized newspaper.” They want to be sharing those links, but once they fixed those thumbnail images so you’ve got those wide screen images and it looks good on mobile, it was a bit of a no-brainer to go to that space because people click on the photo of Russ Wilson on the front of the site cover and it sends them straight through to the site. Is that something that you again saw as, well, if we’re pushing out an article we want to share it that this way and have been doing that for a while with good results?

Kenton Olson: Yeah, it’s a constant battle. As you had mentioned about Instagram earlier, Instagram is really built for engagement. For the most part it’s really difficult to leave Instagram. I think there’s only one spot on the entire app where you can actually click a link and I think that’s the website on your bio page, but other than that there’s nowhere else to click on a link.

For us it was always interesting, it’s kind of a balance. We wanted to have these really engaging Facebook posts so we want a lot of likes, we want a lot of shares and all that stuff and we always saw that a photo with a link in the caption always performed better there, but at the end of the day using the link content always performed better for actually driving people to that piece of content. So we shifted to moving that link type, the two folks who do most of our Facebook posting, probably went that way shortly after the Super Bowl of kind of doing that the primary way.

We kind of saw it as another metric to kind of look at when we’re thinking about engagement. It’s not only likes plus shares plus comments. It’s also link clicks, so when we put that piece into our equation we saw that we were getting a much more engaging metric when we did. So we’ve been using that for a while. I think there are some cases where we would still use photos, but it’s an interesting game always trying to figure out what works best on Facebook. I think in some ways in the past we’ve always had some mistakes. Occasionally I feel like, and this is just my own philosophy, that in a lot of ways the news feed sometimes looks at content that is just more unique in a different way.

A prime example is a post we had, it was actually back when I was working with the founders towards the end of last year, that someone had posted but they had just forgot to attach the image to the post. That post had a much higher reach, much higher engagement, much higher everything than any other post we had. We couldn’t figure it out and our pet theory was that Facebook looked at it and just not many brands are just posting text posts, so they kind of looked at that and they just sort of prioritized that.

Sean: Yeah, I think that was a loophole or effectively a bug, and I think this latest change is to sort of close that one, but for me that was a lot of brands sort of chasing that phantom reach metric. I was looking at that from a user point of view, as a Facebook user, and I was seeing a lot of brands and teams doing that. If everyone’s doing that it becomes a very vanilla and boring feed.

Kenton Olson: Yep.

Sean: Whereas a fan you want to see an article and you want to see a bone crunching tackle or a player celebrating or whatever to get them through, because photos have always been more engaging and getting more likes and shares, but the fact now that you can share that link, the ability to re-share has a bit more virility to your content. But it is a balance. I’m still the same. If you can put up an image that says, “We’re fired up about the game, are you fired up about the game,” then fans will like it and share it. You’ve got to play that game. You’ve got to say, yes, I’m going to let you engage with these posts but this post is a post I want you to click through and read the article on. But it is a constant tweaking and watching what works and playing with it to get the results that you want, because one of the things you do want from a digital team is you still want people to read your content and see what you’ve got to say and get to your website.

Kenton Olson: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a constantly changing world out there. In a lot of ways it’s similar to folks who are really focused on the search engine marketing world. It’s always changing.

Sean: And one thing I think where a team sort of fits in perfectly is, game day is obviously hyper aware. Everyone is focused in, but your job is filling that gap between game days with content and keeping the fans engaged, and that’s what all these channels do. Like you were saying before, tell those stories that aren’t getting told in the traditional media, whether it be a player’s favorite Skittles and those kinds of things to keep the fans coming back and giving those different kinds of content that aren’t strictly the football, the injuries, and those kinds of things, but to be a bit more of a content organization overall.

Kenton Olson: Yeah, I think that’s definitely the case. People look forward to game days but it’s how do we keep people connected with our brand throughout the course of the week, and for us producing the most engaging and compelling content that we can is certainly what we strive to do.

Sean: But you will not lack for amount of content next Thursday, September 4th, when your season kicks off. You’ve got Pharrell Williams performing at Century Link before the game and then you take on the Green Bay Packers, so it should be absolutely a buzz next week.

Kenton Olson: Yeah, it will be fun, and don’t forget our friends Soundgarden will also be playing pregame, so that will be pretty exciting for our fans here in Seattle to see a local group performing before the game as well.

Sean: Yeah, so there won’t be any lack of content coming from the Seahawks account and I’m sure the 12s will start firing up their Instagram and Facebook and Twitter accounts and we’ll be seeing a lot of action from Seattle next Thursday.

Kenton Olson: Absolutely. We’re excited for it.

Sean: We will keep an eye on everything Seahawks throughout the season and good luck for the season ahead and thanks for joining me on the podcast.

Kenton Olson: Thanks, Sean.

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Sean: Thanks again to Kenton Olson from the Seattle Seahawks. You can connect with Kenton and all of the guests that have been on the Sports Geek podcast. The number is now at 76, and thank you very much for every one of you that has been on the podcast. You simply go to, and you can connect with them on Twitter or Linkedin. As I said, they’re very smart and savvy sports biz folks and I recommend connecting with all of them.

One of those who has been on the show and we did catch up with at the SEAT Conference in Miami was Richard Clark, and talking about the FA Cup final win. Rich is pitching that story and that panel for South by Southwest, so if you could go to the South by Southwest panel picker, simply look up his panel, storytelling in soccer, and he’s going to talk about what Arsenal did around the FA Cup win. We spoke a little bit about it with Rich while I was in Miami, so if you are heading to South by Southwest and you want to see a really great talk about what Arsenal did, please vote for Rich’s panel.

I caught up with Francis this week after nominating him for the Ice Bucket Challenge. He wasn’t frosty on my return to the studio. We had a chat about the changing landscape in media rights and some of the speculation that Google may get involved with the AFL and with other leagues around the world. So this is Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand.

Francis Leach: Sean Callanan the digital sports guru is in from Sports Geek HQ to talk sport and the digital world on a Saturday morning. Sean, how you going?

Sean: I’m good, thanks.

Francis Leach: You’ll be better when I turn your mic on. This has been an interesting week as we ease out from the AFL TV right being up for grabs, but it’s turned into like a Presidential election race now. Two or three years out we’re already talking about the price of potential purchase for AFL TV rights. The billion dollar deal was done last time, but the landscape is changing dramatically and there’s even suggestion that non-traditional players could go for a whole lot, lock, stock and barrel.

Sean: Yeah. It’s pretty much that way with most leagues. They’re always talking about when their next TV rights come up. The AFL rights come up again in 2016 and we’ve seen the CEO Gil McLachlan start the conversation and sort of talk about the different options that the AFL has. He was talking about splitting up their rights and selling their Friday nights as a ten-year. If a week is a long time in football, ten years is an exceptionally long time in TV rights and digital rights land. There was a really good article on Inside fully talking about Google potentially becoming a player in the space of digital rights and TV rights. It’s something that I think Google at least, as a global business, is looking at really hard because live sport is one of the only TV properties now that doesn’t have the live shifting, pausing, and time shifting that’s happening with a lot of TV with drama and those kinds of things.

Google is seeing this across the landscape, so why would Google want the AFL rights? Well, it could give them a platform to show one, that they can broadcast a high quality sport like the AFL, but then show their partners that they can monetize it. For people who don’t know, Google owns YouTube. YouTube is becoming more and more connected to our TVs. More smart TVs, you can just click a button and then you’re on a YouTube channel. Devices like Apple TV and Chromecast, a little USB stick you can stick in the side of your computer and you can stream straight from YouTube into your TV. That technology is just coming along in leaps and bounds. The opportunities that Google, who has the cash reserves and things like that could come and buy the rights and then effectively unsell the pieces that they don’t want.

Francis Leach: Would we have the capacity to deliver that product satisfactorily to the market? Would our current technology infrastructure be able to deliver the high definition television equivalent, football via non-traditional means?

Sean: Yeah, and that’s when it does become an infrastructure issue. It’s not Google’s issue, it’s not the AFL’s issue, it’s Australia’s infrastructure and things like the NBN and the fact that there would be nothing worse than to roll something out and half 60% of the. . .

Francis Leach: Have your game constantly buffering.

Sean: Yeah, exactly. That technology is getting better. I experienced watching the AFL on a computer and stuff, and on an IPad when I was in Europe and it was near HD quality. But yeah, it does take a bit more size and space and bandwidth to get it to the high def quality that you would like with the AFL. But, you know, we don’t have high def on AFL at the moment. That’s the current conundrum that only half the games are done in high definition.

Francis Leach: Is there any non-traditional player currently with rights to one of the big sports overseas?

Sean: Not as yet. That’s where Google are circling, so a bit of a digital rights history lesson. The NBA, now six years ago, before their previous deal, they went to Google and said, we’ve got our digital rights, would you like to do it? Google effectively said, “No, we don’t do that, we don’t do sports rights, we’re a search and YouTube,” and it wasn’t on their road map, which is a real technology term, where we want to head. So it ended up that the NBA went with Turner Broadcasting which is traditionally a TV company and they moved into digital and helped form NBA digital and built out a terrific website, great video archives and those kinds of things. Google changed their mind and came back to the NBA a couple years later and said, “We’d really like to do it,” and the NBA said, “Well, we just did a deal, we’ve got a four or five year deal with Turner.”

That sort of triggered Google to head into the IPL and do the live coverage of the first season of the IPL. So you could watch full IPL games streaming on YouTube, they had the highlight clips and things like that, and all the studies showed that having it online and having the full streaming games online didn’t cannibalize the traditional TV, it actually made them watch it more. Now Google is trying to figure out where they can fit. The crown jewel in sports TV would be the NFL. There is chatter that Google would like to get a Thursday night game and have that game on the NFL, and that’s going to cost them a lot of money.

Francis Leach: A massive leap of faith for everyone involved because nobody wants to be disappeared out of the media landscape, particularly not the franchises that rely on it to generate their revenue, so they’ve got to trust that the Google product gets to the people they want it to get to. There’d be a certain demographic within the community that doesn’t have or doesn’t use that technology. You’re sort of faulting yourself into the future a little bit, aren’t you?

Sean: You are, but it’s also this matter that the media market is fragmenting all over the place, so there are people watching a lot of games on devices. Apple’s talking about bringing out a maxi iPad. . .

Francis Leach: A sports IPad.

Sean: Yeah, I guess it’s going to be a bigger one and potentially maybe people are going to start watching on that kind of device, so it might be a different play. Unfortunately, I just don’t think Australia has the same population and population density and displacement of fans. A lot of fans are close to their team, they get access to their team and to their content via the TV or they go to the games. We don’t have, like you would in the States, Boston Red Sox fans in LA, and the only way they can consume that content is via these digital platforms. They’re not getting served in traditional TV, and we’re very much clustered around our major cities and not everyone’s spread out as much. We are geographically, but not from a town point of view, so I don’t know if the models that are currently rising and working in the US are going to work here. But from the AFL’s point of view, if they can get Google as a dance partner at the table that prods traditional media to go, oh hang on, we better pay that otherwise Google will come and steal it. That’s probably what’s at the play at the minute.

Francis Leach: Absolutely, the bidding price goes up as soon as there are a couple hands in the air.

DJ Joe: Need help with your content? Book in for a content brainstorming session with Sports Geek now. Go to

Sean: What do you guys think? Will Google be a major player for sports rights going forward? Will we see them be a big player in the digital rights space and will they be bidding against the TV networks for properties like the NFL, like the AFL, like the NRL. It just makes sense to me that they will start chipping away at that, and as I sort of said in last week’s podcast, Steve Sammartino’s book sort of sums it up, The Great Fragmentation, it’s definitely happening in the world of sports and Google is just trying to pry away just a few pieces of the puzzle because they know how to monetize those platforms.

Just on those content brainstorming sessions, it’s a bit of a season for that now. We’re either doing them at the end of the season as teams finish up, sort of reviewing their content, what they’ve done, what’s worked, what we want to tackle next year as well as putting in a bit of an off season content strategy, but then also the teams coming into summer here in Australia, or into the winter in the US, looking ahead at the content and what you’re planning for the season ahead around events, around holidays, around specific platforms and specific fans. So, if you want to have a content brainstorming session please just send me an email at I’d love to work with you.

There is the clock wound up which tells me it’s time to wrap up this podcast and get out and let you get on with your day. If you’re in the gym, if you’re running, please run a few more laps for me. I’m still trying to get back to a little bit of fitness. You can get the links to this episode as you can for all episodes by simply going to Thank you to Lance Wicks who provided this week’s sounds of the game, which you can here just beneath me.

[Fans cheering Audio Bite]

Thanks for that, Lance. That was actually from the World Judo Championships in Russia, so it would have been a good guess if you had got that one right. Thanks for sending that in. As always you can send in your audio clips from a game, and with the NFL season kicking off and finals season around the corner with the AFL I’d love to get some sounds from around the world. So please send them in.

A big thank you to the guys at the Australian International Hockey League who had me as a guest at their grand final or their championship game for the Good Old Cup, the Melvin Ice versus the Melvin Mustangs, and the Mustangs got up for their first win of the Good Old Cup. It was a great game, a packed stadium, so thanks again to Robert Benneman [SP] and Miles Harris for inviting me along. I look forward to next season.

One more thing, if you haven’t got the EBook from SEAT, please sign up for it just by signing up to the newsletter. Go to If you’re a subscriber and you didn’t get it, check your inbox or simply just email me at I’m happy to share it. There have been over 350 downloads so far and some really good feedback from that.

For this closing two cents, I’m going to read out a Tweet from Kenny Lauer who tweeted this recently. A staggering stat. He tweeted, “By 2020 the average mobile user will download over 1 terabyte annually which is more than 1,000 feature films.” So it just shows you the power of the mobile and the fact that it’s going to become our primary device, and I’ll share in the show notes a picture from famed graffiti artist Banksy that pretty much shows the current relationship we are currently having with our phone as it was completely intertwined with the hand and is becoming a device that is increasingly connected.

Until next podcast, my name is Sean Callanan and you can find me on Twitter. Please connect with me on Linkedin. If you’re a listener, please just a simple, quick request that I have is just simply write something in the Linkedin message if you’re doing an intro. Linkedin does not help itself by clicking the connect button and providing the auto text, but if you simply say, listen to the podcast, would like to connect, I have no problem doing so. Until next time, cheers.

DJ Joe: Check out which teams work with Sports Geek at Find all Sports Geek podcasts at Please leave a review on ITunes. Go to Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

Important news on Facebook feed, it will change how you post – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

SEAT2014 Keynote PanelWhat @SportsGeek reads…..

Important Facebook news - Click-bait to be penalised and why you should be using Links in Facebook

How are the NFL and MLB reaching fans via digital?

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SGP 057: Trifecta: Technology, Digital & Fan Engagement

SEAT2014 Keynote PanelOn today’s podcast I’ve included one of the panel discussion’s I moderated at SEAT in Miami.  We looked at where the fan was headed and how will sports serve fans in the future.  It was great to have several different perspectives on the panel with Leagues (NFL and MLB), teams (New England Patriots), media (ESPN) and technology (Experience, MLBAM, ESPN) all represented on the panel.

On this podcast you’ll learn about:

  • What the NFL has learned from analysis on wi-fi network usage
  • How ESPN is changing it’s coverage to integrate mobile
  • Why 120 sports was formed and what MLBAM has learned so far
  • The advantage teams have over media with deep connections to fans
  • The importance of engaging fans where they are – home, on the move, in stadium
  • How important is it for teams to build up the live experience
  • Why the sports media landscape is fragmenting and what you can do

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Podcast Transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 57 of the Sports Geek podcast. This is a very special episoe , it’s a replay of a panel from SEAT conference in Miami, with guests from NFL, MLB, ESPN and more.

DJ Joe: Welcome to Sports Geek podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now here’s your host who won’t be found on tinder Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks’ DJ Joe, Today’s episode is simply a replay of the keynote panel that I did on Tuesday, was the first panel I was able to do with a recovered voice. The title of the panel was “Trifecta: Technology, Digital & Fan Engagement” and the guests of the panel were Michelle McKenna-Doyle, CEO of the National Football, Joe Inzerillo, EVP & CTO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Eric Johnson of ESPN, EVP of Multimedia Sales, Fred Kirsch, VP of Content at the New England Patriots and Junior Gaspard from Experience, hope you enjoy it. Cheers!

Sean: I think we’ll get started. Hopefully everyone had a good night last night. There’s probably a few weary heads in the audience. My name is Sean Callanan, I’m from Sports Geek. And I’m here to present a keynote session with these colleagues on the Trifecta: Technology, Digital and Fan Engagement. So we’ve got a really great panel, a really great breadth of experience in the panel and also a great breadth of experience of industry.

A couple of leagues. We’ve got the NFL and Major League Baseball Advanced Media represented. New England Patriots experiences that in the stadium’s space. And last but not least is ESPN from a media perspective.

So what I wanted to do is first introduce the panel and then kick off the discussion because we had a conference call about this a couple of weeks ago and we didn’t lack for any conversation. So we’re going to get stuck into it.

First I will introduce the panelists, we’ve got Michelle McKenna-Doyle, SVP and CEO of the NFL. Welcome, Michelle, Junior Gaspard VP of Sales from Experience, Joe Inzerillo, EVP and CTO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Fred Kirsch, publisher and Vice President of Content for the New England Patriots. And Eric Johnson, the Executive VP of Multimedia Sales of ESPN. And he did say he was probably one of the only people last night to go to bed at 2:00 a.m. sober. He only just flew in last night. So thank you very much for being here this morning, Eric.

So I want to get started with you first, Michelle. And looking at the NFL and what the NFL has done to analyze what the fans want in the stadium. And it seems that the NFL is one that is really battling that couch fan versus the stadium fan. So if you want to take us through some of the analysis and research you have done to understand the fan?

Michelle: Sure. There we go, all right. So, yes, absolutely. And we still hold that the best place to watch an NFL game is in an NFL stadium. However, the in-home experience has certainly raised the bar on expectations.

So up until last year, we really relied on a voice of the fan survey that we did for every club on multiple games. And it told us just pretty much what we expected. That connectivity was an issue in almost every stadium. Some being better than others.

But we wanted more empirical data. So this year, we partnered with Extreme Networks and deployed their purview analytics, WiFi analytics system. And we began to use it in many of our stadiums and specifically, the Super Bowl.

And it was able to gather traffic patterns, data. Not only what people did, but how long they did and multiple tries for multiple applications. And it really wasn’t a surprise, in general, but we did learn some things about how to tune the network, number one, just technically. And then number two, how to prioritize traffic.

For example, at the Super Bowl last year, we learned that approximately 20% of people using WiFi were running, operating system updates or app updates. And that is a major user of bandwidth that should be prioritized. So looking at how to prioritize the traffic helps technically. So we started that last year and are continuing that program along with having in-stadium fan audits. So we have now, people from our team in New York, go to every game and they actually record and not only the connectivity, but the whole in-stadium experience.

Sean: So as the WiFi problem, historically at SEAT. I remember in L.A., 2011, I think it was a $5 fine every time someone talked about the WiFi, the DAS problem. That’s becoming less and less of a problem now.

So I wanted to ask Junior, now that the WiFi is kicking in, what do you see teams doing? And you talked to me before about what Alabama are doing as far as to engage that fan because you have got that connectivity.

Junior: So, yeah, I talked to Sean and the team a little bit about our work with Alabama. And just to set the stage for everyone…teams use us to enhance the game-day experience for fans in the venue, specifically via the mobile device.

And I thought Alabama was a good story because they redefined a 60-year-old tradition that they have been using mobile technology. So based on who you are, who you’re with and why you’re at a game, the thing that makes that game is memorable for you is gonna be different for me.

So if I go with my little girl or if I go with my dad, that game is going to be different for me. So Alabama has a tradition called the “A-Day Game.” It is a spring intrasquad scrimmage, red versus white. And Michelle can appreciate this as an Auburn fan, college football is a big deal in the Southeast. So there you go.

And they get over 60,000, 70,000 people to come out to this intrasquad scrimmage. And it’s almost a “thank you” to the people at Tuscaloosa. Because it’s free to the general public and these are fans who might not otherwise get a chance to come to an Alabama game because they don’t have season tickets.

So what Alabama did was they looked at the assets that they had which were some reserved seating areas. They had locker room tours, they had field passes. And so, let’s put those assets in the hands of our fans via mobile. And let those fans choose what things would make the game memorable for them on that day.

So they were able to impact thousands of fans at the venue who had an incredible experience. It was a dad who drove from Michigan with his son. And talked about how the ability for him to do this locker room tour had created this perfect memory for him and his little boy.

There was another fan who upgraded their seats or be able to get into reserved seating. And talked about how they created this perfect memory. So really, that was a good example, I thought, of how a school was being innovative and using mobile to really redefine this tradition that they’ve been playing since 1946, when Harry Truman was in office.

Sean: Exactly. And on the mobile fan and the fact that you’re engaged in the fan via mobile, I want to talk to Joe from a fan perspective. We talked about, so far, the in-stadium fan. But MLBAM does so much work from a technology point of view to engage that out of network, out of the location, out of the team zone.

Because if you’re a Red Sox fan living in Miami, you’ve got to subscribe to your service to be able to catch those games.

Joe: I think that the thing that I always think about when you talk about fans and where you engage and things like that is there’s no percentage people. Some people are like “Well, 30% of fans want to do this.”

Well, market segmentation sometimes dehumanizes the aspect of fandom. People are fans all the time. If you love a team, you love a team. And so, then, it’s really about “Well, what context and what assets do you want with that context?”

And so, for us, I think a lot of it is really about consistency and access and making sure that we have the right thing for what you’re looking for. And so, the flagship sort of mobile product that we have is At Bat, which is the top-grossing app in sports at this point in time. Since the beginning of the iTunes Store, I think we’re app number four in the iTunes store.

And we bet early and often on trying to get that access to the fan. And sometimes, you want to watch your out-of-market game like you were mentioning. But sometimes, you just want to see the highlight. Or sometimes, you just want to see a live look-in that says “Hey, we have a perfect game in progress.”

You don’t really know and so, you want to sort of give the fans an array of things that they can choose from. And then, democratically, people are going to pay. If they’re the “Hey, I want to watch a live game” fan or “If I just want a score and push notification.” Things like that, they’re going to figure it out.

And so, I think what we’ve really focused on is trying to bring that very consistent, very broad and deep vertical…sort of a self-chosen vertical for fans to go down so that they get the user story that they’re looking for at that point in time.

And that ties into the ballpark and it also ties into when they’re outside the ballpark. Because, again, they’re a fan no matter what. And so, their device is a very personal thing. It should adapt its personality to the context that they’re currently in. At least that’s the way we look at it.

Sean: Definitely. In the conversations that we’ve had so far, especially from the mobile point of view, when John McCauley [SP] was talking about this yesterday. The app is about providing the best user experience that it can provide.

And that’s a matter of wherever you are. Whether you’re in the stadium, whether you’re on your couch or whether you’re sitting on the beach, you should be able to pick it up and it should be your app. It’s not Major League Baseball’s app or the NFL’s app, it’s your app. And that’s something that’s where it’s evolving.

Which sort of leads me to a question to Fred and the Patriots. It’s a completely different focus for a team point of view to a league, because you’re really targeting your fans. From content, how do you go about engaging your fans and how is that different from either league would do it at an NFL level?

Fred: We’re waging the same battle that Michelle said. We’re fighting…I call them the three C’s: cost, comfort and convenience of home. You can’t compete with that in a stadium.

So you have to focus on the other things, for example, emotion, energy, entertainment. Things that the home can’t compete with at the stadium. So when the person leaves that game for whatever reason, there’s some moment that they realize “Wow, I’m glad I was there to witness that or see that.”

Now, obviously, winning helps. I think that’s the most important factor. But it’s the one that you have the least control over. So we worked on a number of things, technology-wise. And I kind of divide them up into two sections; things that fans never had that we’re introducing. And those are great. But then also focusing on making the things that they’ve come to expect a little better.

Some of that is through technology and one example…bathrooms are something that people expect to have when they come to the game. President Shalala mentioned a couple of days ago how “If you don’t think bathrooms are important at a venue, you’re missing the boat.”

And it really resonated with me, she’s right. One of the things we did last year was do a little bathroom wait-time feature on our Gameday app where you’re sitting in your seat, it’s time to go. You type in your section number and it will give you the wait times for the five closest bathrooms to you.

Little thing. Now, does everyone use it when they come to the game? No. Probably a couple hundred per game use it. But for those couple hundred, that’s a cool little feature. And to what Joe is saying, give people all these things. And let them choose democratically what they want to use on a game. And just keep trying things and hold people. Find out what they like, find out what they didn’t like and just keep trying things to try to compete against that home experience.

Sean: I think that’s really important to make your app a utility for your fan. So they have a reason to open it up. Whether it’s a seat upgrade, a highlight or a wait time for the bathroom or where is the nearest beer line? There’s a reason for opening the app. We can get people to download an app. But it’s getting back to the user. And so, if you put that utility as part of your app, that becomes something.

And that becomes a story. A part of the experience is someone says “Did you know you can open the app? It’ll tell you where the shortest line is.”

Eric, I want to talk to you about where ESPN is taking, I guess, this engagement with the fan and how important mobile is in that space. As far as reaching the fan that is on the move all the time?

Eric: Yeah. If you were to go to Bristol, Connecticut, you’d see it scrawled on pretty much every wall and every building, the company mission. Which is really simple, “To serve sports fans anytime, anywhere.”

And it really is almost a religion in Bristol to be able to try to accomplish that. For a company that was built on being a cable television network at one point and then seven networks and then a mobile company and a production company did all of that.

It is a company that is very focused on live. And so, from a television perspective, 96% of everything ESPN is consumed is consumed live. And that’s very different than what’s happening in terms of the television model. And it’s helped to influence the way the company things about out of home with a mobile device in terms of what that usage is.

We used to have 65 different apps and growing, we didn’t have a bathroom app. But it was probably coming out of Bristol at some point. And we really distilled it down into just a few.

And the goal of that is to make all the types of usage you’d want available within one application that has your choice of personalization to be able to choose how you want to interact with that. The goal for the company, which is interesting, is the company used to focus on “What do we have? What do other people have? So CBS and Turner has March Madness. NBC/CBS/FOX, they have NFL. We have this, we have that.”

The reality is, the top 20 mobile usage days for ESPN are 20 days that we don’t have any television programming. It’s 17 NFL Sundays, it’s the Super Bowl and it’s the first two days of the NCAA Tournament.

So to get the company to realize that from a mobile perspective, every event is your event, it’s the way that we try to think. We try to be that second screen to any sporting event that exists. Whether it’s in-home, a secondary usage in home, or out of home supplying what the live sports environment looks like.

Sean: So we’ve got this spectrum of fans from in the stadium engaged with the game and using the mobile to further that engagement, deepen that engagement. To the fan on the move, to the fan at home.

Michelle, I want to talk to you. We’ve got all these fans now. How do we not bombard them with constant messages from all the teams and all the partners? Like the NFL, the Patriots, how do you get that mix right?

Michelle: Yeah, I think that is very critical. There’s so much excitement about talking to fans that pretty soon, you can feel overwhelmed as a fan with all the communication.

But it needs to be self-directed and subscribed. Having a utility app that has the features that you’re interested in. Announcing in to the kinds of things that you want to opt in to as first, that’s sort of basic CRM rules.

But what we looked at the NFL was we wanted football to be top of mind. Not just a couple times a year, but all year. So we filled the calendar with multiple events. That we agree with all 32 clubs that these are the banner events.

And during these events, there will be messaging that will come from the NFL around those events. And then, each club is also required to talk to fans during that certain event about event. And it’s pretty well-coordinated.

But there are also times when we agree at the NFL that we’re going to go dark with messaging around general NFL or NFL mobile or NFL Network or NFL Shop so that the clubs can market season tickets and have that type of activity.

That has been something that is a challenge for an organization…we’re not a command and control organization. We are on some things, but on these types of things, it takes collaboration and cooperation across a lot of different organizations. And so, a lot of our work is spent with the clubs making sure we’ve got an integrated communication calendar that we understand.

We learned through that integrated communication calendar and the types of content that people wanted, that there was a great demand for NFL content, video, more and more. So that’s the launch of NFL Now that is happening later this summer for this season.

And so, that’s a new product. But we have to be very conscious about launching that product. And having it trump or fall over or take the airspace away from the clubs in their app communications.

So it does take quite a bit of coordination. The technology is great and cool. But less and less, as you said, hopefully next year, we won’t still be talking about the need for WiFi. Certainly, we haven’t proven that by now. And then, we should be talking more and more about how and when in personalization and communication to our fans.

Sean: So I want to go back to one of the key parts of the Trifecta, which is the fan engagement. At the moment, we’re still focusing on the technology and digital in… Sort of in broadcast mode, if you will. But from a fan engagement point of view, probably going to throw it more down to Eric and Fred around the storytelling element and how important that is to engage the fans.

So first, Eric, just talk a little bit about how ESPN frames stories, gets people involved in the conversation by pitching those stories and getting involved? And then, I want to hear from Fred around the same, hearing from the Patriots fans.

Eric: There’s an expectation from fans now to be a part of the conversation. They ultimately are on their way to being the producers and you guys certainly through at MLBAM do a wonderful job of allowing folks to feel like that.

It is an expectation to be involved with that. So everything that we’re building is built with the notion of having increased personalization as part of that and allowing them to be able to be the choosers of what they’re going to take in as part of that experience.

It’s interesting, you talked about in-stadium, I just wanted to say one thing. I just got back from Brazil. I was fortunate enough to go to the World Cup final. And the in-stadium experience I had, it was an epiphany. I guess this always happens, but it was to a degree that I had never seen.

I pulled out my camera to take a video view of what was happening on the pitch at the very opening of the stadium. And when I pulled out my camera, I realized that every single person around me had their camera out and was filming it.

So I ended up filming the people instead of filming the pitch because I just thought it was so interesting. And the idea that this is the expected experience.

Sean: So how many people in the audience saw someone in their Facebook friend feeds post a video or pitches from Brazil? There you go.

Eric: It was, the 65,000 fans, it was 35,000, at least, that were pulling that out. So to me, it was like this “Aha” moment of that’s the expectation even in-stadium for a company that doesn’t focus so much on in-stadium as much as the other panelists here do. you have to take that into consideration that that’s an expectation.

Michelle: We had, at this past Super Bowl, 3.2 terabytes of uploaded data. It was mainly photos.

Sean: They want to brag, they want to push it out there. So Fred, you would have a ton of content that’s coming from Patriots fans, Instagramming and putting up Vines and those kind of things. How do you take that and bring that back into your realm and make it part of the story that you’re producing with your content?

Fred: I’ve been with the Patriots since 1995. And looking at the consumption and patterns of digital content. Back then and through the ’90s, probably Sunday was our least trafficked day on .com. That’s changed. Now, of course, Sunday is our most trafficked day for all our digital platforms.

And it’s because of people now understanding that there’s a second screen there to supplement. So we do a lot of things to really supplement the fans’ experience, particularly on game day.

One of the things…I do a blog during the game. A live blog that allows fans from all over the world to send in questions. And when I can, when I can look down, I answer as many as I can.

I have, on average, about 18,000 unique people on that blog during the game. And that’s thousands of questions that are coming through. I answer maybe 100 or so during the course of a game, but the point is, they’re all looking to be part of a community during the game, even if they can’t be at the stadium.

Another thing we do is we do a little pregame show on our Facebook page. And during that, we’re soliciting people to send us our photos from the parking lot. Or from wherever they are getting ready to watch the game. That might be a sports bar in Arizona or it could be a beach in Brazil.

And people do. They send us their photos and we’ll post them right up on the Facebook page while we’re doing this IP radio show. And it’s just another way to make people feel like they’re part of that Patriots community on game day, the day that everyone gathers.

Sean: So, Joe, I just wanted to talk to you about, if you can, about 120. And it’s starting up in that space, being that short-form video and trying to get to that fan. You want to tell us a little bit about that and what its idea is?

Joe: Sure. 120, for those who haven’t seen it, is a collaboration between us and some of the other sports leagues and Sports Illustrated and Silver Chalice out of Chicago where the show is produced. Where it’s basically 120-second segments.

And so, they basically go through all the sports, whatever is top of mind. “Sports at the speed of Twitter” I think was one of the original taglines. We may or may not have killed that, I don’t remember.

But the notion is that is alive when you can just sit back and you can watch segments and just go from topic to topic. But it’s also, from a tech standpoint, pretty slickly done in the fact that all of those 120-second segments become available as media VOD or media highlights. And they’re very hyper-shareable, hyper “Hey, you’ve got to see this.”

You can follow a topic. So if there’s an emerging topic that’s out, “So and so is going to get traded, so and so is injured or whatever,” you can see it unfold over the course of the day any second. And things can get updated.

I think it gets back to everything that we’re talking about. The notion…it was originally one of those things where the broadcast model was this concept of “One to everybody.” And then, it was “Oh, it’s asymmetric sharing.” Where it’s like a few very big trendsetters and everybody to everybody as well.

But we’re getting more and more asymmetric in that, I think. And it’s a participatory thing. Like I want to participate in…it’s the digital face paint. It’s supporting the team in that way. That people are really doing it and I think 120 is sort of an extension of it…it kind of aligns with what we’re doing at it too.

Where it’s really giving, again, folks the tools. One of the things I talk about…content discovery. Because all of the sharing is great. But if you don’t have a way of discovering it, it doesn’t really do you much.

And I was wondering…when you think about, how many people bookmark things on your browser anymore? If you go back ten years, that’s how you got around the Internet. “Oh, there’s this site I’m going to go to and that’s my trusted site.”

And it’s just not that way anymore, it’s all about content discovery. And if you look at the younger demographic, they don’t even know what a bookmark is. “What’s that?” They don’t remember what a book is and therefore, a bookmark and the extraction of a bookmark are all pretty foreign concepts. But they search. They follow. They go see what their friends are watching. They do all these different mechanisms in order to garner content.

And I think if you look at things like the music industry and what’s happened with a lot of the stuff there, it’s like “How do people even discover new music?” It used to be very clear, you listened to the radio, that’s what it was. Or you went to a nightclub and you heard something,.

Sports is in that point of inflection where we’re all trying to figure out how you come up with the next metaphor of what that looks like. And so, I think 120 is a pivot on that metaphor. I think what we’re doing are pivots on that metaphor.

And I think a lot of the other folks have mentioned a lot of things that people are playing with. And it’s very cool. And a lot of them are going to stick and are going to go for it concepts. And several will hit the floor, flame out.

And that’s part of the fun of it right now, is being at that inflection point and really trying to understand how much the sports fan wants to feel official and how much they want to feel like they’re a fan in the parking lot tailgate.

Sean: I think a friend of mine has just recently released a book called “The Great Fragmentation.” And that’s exactly what’s happening in the world of sports. We’re going from where traditional media would show a ballgame from the three hours. And now, we’re getting these bite-size chunks that are bringing people back to the game.

Like “NFL Red Zone” that’s bringing people back to the game. I think when the IPL first broadcast on YouTube, there was that feel of “Oh, no. It’s going to detract from TV and people aren’t going to watch TV. They’re going to watch it.” But all of what they show, the more people who watch the clips on YouTube, the more they watch it on TV. So those sort of, short clips that you’re putting up on 120 will drive more people in.

Back to the storytelling and allowing the fans to tell this story. So how are the teams that you’re working with experience? Making sure that the fans are telling that story, that they had that great experience? How are they leveraging that in what they’re doing?

Eric: We see a lot of teams using social and encouraging fans to post images and tweet about their experience at the games. And just to go back to something that Fred touched on earlier, one of the questions that we get often is “Hey, doing all this technology and all this stuff to enhance the experience, is that going to take away from folks actually watching the game in the venue while they’re there? Are they just going to want to not even think about the product on the field?”

And I go back to at the beginning, all of these folks are fans. And they’re there for the game, they’re there to create that perfect memory. So you want to have this technology to enhance it while they’re there. But not to distract from the product, ultimately, on the field.

I think Joe may have touched on the NFL, Fred, earlier, you want to create a memory that ten years from now, you’re going to remember you were in the stadium when that happened and had an incredible time. Not that you were sitting on your couch and watching a particular game.But, yeah. We see a number of teams encouraging fans from the social, Facebook, Twitter, a number of things to get the content out there and share their experience at the game.

And I go back to the thing that makes a game memorable very significantly from person to person. One of our teams that we work with is the Minnesota Twins. And they had a fan that had purchased a ticket, he was going with his dad. And then his dad had to have hip surgery or something like that, so he couldn’t get around.

But the ability for them to upgrade to an accessible seat category on the phone was amazing for this fan. Because his situation had changed from the time he bought the topic until he was going to the game. And even though that was a category available for him to upgrade into.

So again, the thing that makes a game memorable is going to vary from fan to fan based on your situation. So we see teams using it in a lot of different ways.

Sean: So Michelle, I wanted to ask you about the “Together We Make Football” campaign. And what the NFL has done with that?

Michelle: Yeah, so to your point around fans wanting to contribute and belong, it became a national campaign for the NFL. Advertise on the Super Bowl and a year-long plan that came out of our fans telling us that that was the most important thing to them. Was to feel that they were a part of the game.

And so, our marketing campaign really branded a whole campaign called “Together We Make Football.” It asked our fans to upload their NFL story. And unbelievable stories…”I was engaged at this game, I was married at this game.” “My parents had their 50th wedding anniversary here” or “My first child is named after this player.” And we got some amazingly, emotionally touching stories.

And that became, really, a campaign and also a contest. So the top four winners were brought to the Super Bowl last year. And so, those are the kinds of things that fans are driving because they’re sharing their stories and that content is so compelling, that it’s better than the content that we would create or a story that we would create.

And we find to back to go back to the in-stadium experience, is if you synchronize your devised experience with your scoreboard experience and with your in-stadium entertainment, you really take it to the next level. Some clubs have done this amazingly well.

So that the experience on the phone isn’t a disjointed experience, but it’s integrated with the whole plan. And that’s what our goal is to do for the Super Bowl.

The producers that run the in-stadium shows are great producers of live entertainment. And that’s when it can really…so going to the music analogy, concerts do that really well and you’re doing it here with a live Twitter feed. Those are the kinds of things that make it so integrated that it doesn’t take away from the game itself.

Sean: So a question for the panel,so what is your focus for the next 12 months? If we come back in SEAT next year in San Francisco, what we will be discussing of what is your focus? Aside from the other end what’s the focus for ESPN for the next 12 months as far as engaging the fan?

Eric: It continues to be on the bleeding edge of live in everything that we do. We’ve launched a “Watch ESPN” app that hopefully all of you have downloaded and used and authenticated through your provider.

But just, in terms of something like the World Cup, we saw 3 and a half million new unique individuals who now authenticated and were a part of that experience. The notion of having daytime, midweek sports is just becoming a reality that people are consuming at a high level.

The “Watch ESPN” app would have been the sixth-rated cable network just from an authenticated streaming standpoint to give you a sense of scale of how many folks are willing to be able to experience sports in this way. So that’s one experience in terms of live-streaming.

The other experience is in terms of live is in terms of continuing to build out “What is our Gamecast functionality?” How you follow a sport live when you’re not actually watching the video of that sport?

And I think we have some things that we’re going to be unveiling over the next 12 months that I think will be very interesting on the iOS device as well as Android in terms of how we’re going to uniquely tailor them to those experiences. So I think that’s the most important thing.

Sean: Fred, what about yourself? What are you focused on for the next 12 months?

Fred: Well, relevant to this discussion, particularly in our “Gameday” app which is an app specifically for people coming to the game, we’re going to be obviously looking to improve that. We’re going to be expanding our in seek delivery bordering to more locations and just to clarify that, that’s people ordering in their seat, paying by phone. And then being alerted when their food is ready and picking it up at an express line with no wait. We don’t do the in-seat delivery, but it’s an express line, so we’re going to be expanding that program and promoting it a little bit more.

Last year, we considered a pilot program. Now, we’re going to promote it a little bit more. We’re experimenting with multi-cast , now for some of our live, exclusive video in the app during games. So we’re looking at…Inscan (?) is building their own multi-cast platforms. So we’re looking at integrating that into our app to see if that is any better than what we’ve got right now, which we think is pretty good.

But we’re always looking to improve. So we’re open to that. And we’ll be adding a lot of new features that I don’t want to talk about right now, because I want our fans to be the first ones to know about them. But just to make that app experience better.

And then, on the other side, I’ve talked about making the things that people have already had. Within our stadium every year and this year is no exception, we’re always looking to make the stadium itself better. Whether it’s the seating areas or the parking areas, the concession booths.

If you go to Gillette Stadium right now, you might look at it and say “There’s no way they’re going to be ready for the season.” We will be, but there’s a lot of construction going on, building. And it’s all part of adding value to the fan experience and we do that every year.

Sean: What about yourself, Joe? What’s your focus for the next 12 months to step up the game yet again?

Joe: I think that there’s a lot of tactical stuff that we’ve been certainly talking about. I think that were mind setting or that I think that where we’re spending a lot of effort is really trying to focus on the notion of identity and friction to that identity.

And so, part of the thing is we have a whole bunch of different stuff out here. There’s this app and this thing and this little way over here. It’s all really hyper-fragmented like you said. But it’s also creating this friction that exists that prevents people from doing things easily.

And so, I think if you look, for example, at the airline industry, most of them have got it pretty right. You have a frequent flyer program, you have this loyalty thing, you can kind of get on, you can get your stuff digital and you can do all of this certain stuff.

But if you look at us and sports as a whole, we’ve got a long way to go, still. And there’s all sorts of historical reasons for it and this vendor, this thing, etc. But ultimately, what we’re really trying to look at is trying to wrap that up into something that’s a little bit more clean and a little bit more like a real loyalty program. That, really, every aspect of your fandom that touches us, we can reward and we can try to give you a better experience.

And we can try to offer you something maybe you didn’t know existed. And really trying to lock that in. And from that, drives ton of technology.

Baseball bet this year, very heavily on BTLE [SP]. I had a program on my capital forecast that was five ballparks that was going to put beacons on. We’re at 29 right now out of 30.

And so, the rant has just been incredible on something like that. But proximity is a part of removing that fraction. Why do you have to go navigate an app? “Oh, he’s standing in the front of the beer sign” or “He’s at the gate. Let me pull up his digital ticket.”

And so, that’s what we’re really looking at, is trying to remove a lot of the friction that’s around that. That, uniquely, we can do as a league and as a community of teams, that would be harder to do for other folks. But really trying to see if we can nail that.

Because as I said, I think airlines, by and large, are a great example of getting it right with a very small feature set. And we’re in a very large feature set. And we think that we can get it even more right than what we’ve done in the past.

So, again, taking the friction out of it and trying to rally around the notion of an identity that can be rewarded from a fan loyalty standpoint is something that we’re really focused on.

Sean: What about yourself, Junior?

Junior: Yeah. We’re actually working a lot on what Joe just talked about around Beacon Technologies. So we did some work around that with the Orlando Magic towards the end of this past season.

And it’s interesting. Fans get excited about the opportunity to know what’s happening based on their identity, who they are and where they are in this stadium. And we saw a lot of excitement around that towards the end of this season. So I think next year, when we get together at steed we’ll have some good stories around that.

The other thing that we’re working on are a lot of things around millennials, specifically. I know there’s a lot of conversation with teams about the way millennials buy tickets. And the way millennials think about their experience at the game and it’s much more flexible and it’s more social as opposed to just going to the game.

So we’re working with one of our teams around products and categories and opportunities specific to that millennial buyer. Because you think of the way they go to games, it’s just very different than the way people go to games today. So that’s another piece.

And then the third thing is around loyalty. So a number of our team partners have invested in loyalty solutions. And they’re looking for ways to make it easier for fans to use their points and really just maximize the opportunity related to those loyalty solutions. So we’re going to be doing more with those products.

Those are the three things that I probably point to that next year that we’ll see and we’ll be talking about.

Sean: What about yourself, Michelle? We started the conversation talking about the studies that you’ve done of the fans. You’ve got the analysis, part of what the fans know, it’s always a big project that you need to understand your fans. What did the NFL want to do in the next 12 months?

Michelle: So we have a season to pull off, first and foremost. By the next year, we’ll have another Super Bowl which we are planning to be a much more engaged Super Bowl. Our goal at this Super Bowl, typically, we don’t know who actually ends up using the Super Bowl ticket. Because they get bought in bulk and then, the actual user of the ticket, we don’t typically know what they do.

So this year through technology and through partnering with Site Experience and Extreme Networks, we’re going to give incentives for people to tell us where they’re sitting and what they’re doing and using Beacons [SP] to talk to them.

So also, this year, a big effort for us…think about it being a fan issue. But the number-one fan issue that people talk about on game day is, often, officiating.

Sean: Is there going to be an app to fix that?

Michelle: Well, let’s just say there’s going to be a lot more transparency into that. This year, we are very busy. And that’s I’m the only person from the league office that was able to attend. We’re doing a centralized consultation under the hood of every referee. When they go under the hood, they’re online with us in New York.

We will be tweeting the results along with short video segments of why we made that call immediately. And we believe that will be one of the most shared content on Sunday. It certainly–

Sean: It’s definitely talked about.

Michelle: It’s what kills the commissioner’s voicemail on Monday. So hopefully, by tweeting it out ahead of time, we can avoid those phone calls.

And then, our draft is on the move. So for the first time, we’re moving the draft out of New York City next year. So by the time we’re here next, we’ll be able to talk about what that was like and how fans either engaged or stepped up their level engagement based on us traveling to fans versus them having to come to New York.

So a lot happening in this world. I think your airline example is a really good one. I spent 14 years at Disney. And I can tell you, the difference between airlines and Disney and sports is that we got to just decide things.

So if we decided we wanted a loyalty program, we decided it, we built the data warehouse. We rolled it out, everybody participated, there was no opt-in, no opt-out. For us, 32 clubs. Some want to be in, some don’t want to be in. Some want to spend money on this stuff, some don’t want to spend.

So to get a true fan loyalty, it’s going to have to come from the fans finally saying “Enough already. We have to have this.” So quit your club by club decision making. And look at it from my point of view as a fan versus your point of view of 32 separate profit centers.

So I think that’s the harder part to get us to where other companies have been able to get to. Is that the governance model is much more difficult for us. Who owns that fan data? Is it the clubs? It should be.

And so, that’s some of the things that we hope to work out between now and next year, is a really strong governance model to make it comfortable for everyone to participate in the fan engagement. And really mean it when you say “fan first.”

Sean: Well, everyone then just talked about that relationship with the fan. And the fact that the fan is quite willing to give up that data. In that relationship because they’re quite willing. It’s that tribalism they have with the sport and even more so than the airlines.

I’m happy to give my information to my football club then to my frequent flyer club. And also, I’ll tell you where I am with Beacon Technology and that kind of thing. So where do you think the relationship between both league and teams and many partners, where is that relationship heading as far as how much we know about them? And how can we set that experience for them.

Michelle: We have the opportunity to know more about our customers than any other industry. They want to tell us, even without incentive they want to tell us. And that’s because they want to share their memories.

So I think it does start at who you’re a fan of. You can be a fan of the NFL. But you’re more likely a fan of the Patriots or the Packers or the Seahawks. And so, that’s where the relationship starts. And we have to name all of our clubs to be able to have that one to one relationship so that then, we can grow it at the league level and then have it drive things like NFL Now and the broadcast agreements that bring in the lion’s share of our revenue.

So it starts by aggregating…you talked about…there was a lot of worry with these little ads and things take away from the television contracts. Well, we found it to be the opposite. It’s the great aggregator. So live sports is still the great aggregator on broadcast television.

Sean: And it’s still the premium product as Eric said before.

Michelle: So I think we’ll just see more and more of that.

Sean: What about yourself, Joe? Where do you think the relationship of the fan is headed?

Joe: Well, I definitely think people are willing to give up a lot more information because of that fandom side of it. But it’s an enormous responsibility at the other side.

So it’s a really double-edged sword. Because if the data that you’re collecting isn’t working for them and is only working for you, then they won’t be so willing to give it up.

And so, it really comes down in trying to figure out what are actionable, meaningful things that you can do with that? Part of it is not having to ask people things twice.

So for example, something simple like “Hey, what’s your favorite team? And by the way, if you ever use your credentials to log into any other MLB thing, you’re going to know what your favorite team is.”

I think it’s a great example of making the data work for the fan. “Why am I asking you more than once?” Just because this app was built by this company or that app was built by that company, that’s an internal. That shouldn’t be a fan-facing thing.

And so, I think taking the data in. Understanding how to make it meaningful and actionable is really what it gets down to. And that concept of loyalty and that concept of reward. And the concept of just giving them the bull horn.

Simple things, we’ve had different folks like Stephen Colbert and other people take the MLB Twitter handle for a day. That’s fine. And it’s an accessible thing that a fan can do.

If you’re the most creative person, whatever, you can have a shot at that. And so, really, I think that it’s learning how to play all of these various different instruments that we have like an orchestra. And right now, it sounds a lot more like a tune-up, I think, in general. Where the oboe is over here and the flute guy is over there and we got some strings that are still tuning.

And so, we’re starting to get the right instruments. And we’re starting to hear a little bit of harmony on it. But we’re really not at the point where it’s a symphony yet. And I think that’s what we’re really looking at, too.

And there are a lot of roles in the symphony where it’s just pluck the string three times and that’s what you do for the entire movement, right? And that’s where, I think, that we have to be very careful is that we’re not overusing some of these instruments.

And that’s where people are going to start to tune out or that’s where people are going to have bad experiences. The reality is that, well, at some level, we compete with the other leagues for entertainment value or even our TV partners or whatever.

There is a rising tide of lifting all boats or sinking all boats. And so, if a particular league or team or broadcast network does something that makes people feel like “That’s really creepy,” that’s going to set the whole industry back.

So we’re all sort of stewards in this trying to figure it out and trying to figure out what’s a meaningful use of the data versus just a creepy use of the data.

Sean: Eric…

Eric: It’s an ongoing use of data, too. You have to provide the value on a day to day, week to week, hour to hour basis. So people are willing to give you that.

But if you don’t give them a reason in the value proposition which is where Joe was going, they’ll opt out very quickly into that experience.

So we’re fortunate in terms of the fact that we published on every single screen, the notion of having your favorite teams track you wherever you go is a value.

We have over 11 million folks that play fantasy football over on the NFL. That becomes an opportunity to be able to engage them one to one and give them value that exists to where they’re willing to share more and more data with you.

But then also, how we use those with advertisers. We’re very selective in terms of creating targeting opportunities for our clients. But at the same time, not going too far as to make them feel that they gave up too much information to us.

Joe: I was just going to add to that point. Sometimes, information is in and of itself, tailored to the fan, the thing that’s empowering. One of the most important aspects of sport is trash-talking. And so, if you can throw out the fodder to have that trash talk, it’s important.

And so, when you look at what we’re doing with player tracking, which we announced at MIT Sloan this year, you can actually see how fast some of them are reacting, things like that.

It’s all cool and it’s all amazing. And it all shows people what great athletes we are. But it’s also fodder for the trash-talking. Like, this guy is better than that guy. My favorite player is better than this favorite player.

And that’s also the dissemination of data to folks to power their fandom in and of itself as a service.

Sean: Fred, I wanted to ask you to wrap up. Because you’re the one on the panel that has the most avid fans. You know maybe like you said before, people are football fans or baseball fans. But when you’re a fan of a team, that is where you’re at your most peak.

So how do you think the fan relationship is changing for you at a team level?

Fred: I’m not so much as sure they’re changing as much as we’re changing. We’re trying to extract more from them. They’re the same people that they always were. And we’ve been talking about fan affinity and fan rewards in the sports industry for years now. It’s not a new thing.

The technology is getting better, so we’re coming up with more creative ways to create these programs. But I will still say that, individually, these fan rewards programs, I’d say a good percentage of them are going to be disappointing.

You’re going to get the first adopters, that the super fans that will sign up for anything you put your name on. But beyond that, there is that trepidation whether it’s “I don’t want to give you the info” or “I just don’t have time.” “I’m a fan on Sunday, I’ll watch every game. But during the week, I’m just not going to do all that stuff.”

So the moral of that story for me is content. And that’s where I come from. And to me, it all begins and ends with good content. If you don’t have good content, I don’t care if it’s a fan reward program or your website or your app, people are just going to tune out. They’re not going to be as avid as you want them to be.

So invest in good content. Whether it’s video, the written word, delivery of that content. Invest in content and make it good content. And now, you can build on that. Now you can ask people for more because you’re really giving them something. Not just asking them to be a fan and then extracting and be able to market to them better.

Give them something. And the most that you can give them is good content.

Sean: Thank you very much. That’s exactly right. It’s a two-way conversation. We’ve gone so far away from the broadcast model. It’s not one-way anymore, it’s two ways. So if you’ve got to get in that good content…that’s actually a good lead-in for my next panel when I’m speaking to the guys from Arsenal and Oscar and Kenny. Because that’s going to be one of the key topics that we’re going to talk about.

But that’s it for this panel. Can I please get around of applause for Eric, Michelle, Joe, and the rest of the panel .Thank you very much, guys. Next session will be starting very soon.

DJ Joe: Signup for SportsGeek news

Sean: Thank again to everyone who contributed the panel and for letting me use that audio for the podcast, and again don’t forget if you haven’t got the ebook related to my content presentation with digital campaigns around the world, you can get it by signing up for the newsletter and the show notes. If you’re in the newsletter at least you haven’t got the place, just send me an email show on and I will send it to you. One other call action just by the end of the podcast, if you could complete the SportsGeek podcast survey, I really appreciate it to know exactly what you’ve like simple go to to fill that out and another one if you can do a favor, if you’re heading to south by South Wales and you want to hear really cracking story, reach clock from Arsenal has speech to do a panel on the performance around the FA Cup, and how they covered that event from a digital point of view to engage fans and there will be a link in the show notes for you to vote up, that panel South by South West tour is one of my things to do, I will get to South by South West in the next year or two.

That’s it from me, Thanks again from downloading and listening to this SportsGeek podcast, as always you can get me on twitter @seancallanan or @sporstgeek, and you always find me the old fashion way and send me an email. Why that I can help your team develop your digital presence and better connect your fans and I loved to work with you at will land in my inbox and I will do my best to reply to you as soon as possible. Cheers!

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DJ Joe: Thanks for listening SportsGeek podcast.

#IceBucketChallenge accepted

What is the #IceBucketChallenge?

Have you been living under a rock?  The Ice Bucket Challenge is a viral fund raising and awareness raising phenomenon for ALS and MND (Motor Neurone Disease as it is known in Australia).  So far many celebrities, athletes and technology and political figures have accepted the challenge to tip a bucket of ice on their heads and donate.

With water from the Yarra River...

How to donate?

One pushback for online campaigns is “digital slacktivism” where people click like and feel good but don’t donate or change behaviour (see Kony 2012) but it looks like people are donating in large numbers to ALS and MND.

You can donate by following these links:

There is concern that people may not donate to other charities due to the success of Ice Bucket Challenge, I urge you to rail against that and donate to your regular charities.

Why I did it?

I spoke about the Ice Bucket Challenge last week on ABC Grandstand only to find out the next day that a long time family friend, Deeds, who was only a few years older than me had just passed away a few days earlier from Motor Neurone Disease.  I was challenged by Josh Rowe from Beers, Blokes & Business and RealAs and by Kylie Caflisch from SEAT so I dedicated my Ice Bucket Challenge to Deeds.

Note: Special mention West Coast Eagles’ Neale Daniher who announced he is fighting MND on Monday, watch the Eagles boys Ice Bucket Challenge video

My #IceBucketChallenge video

Also available on YouTube

Who did I nominate?

I nominated the following people:

Keep up the good work

Here is Josh’s challenge to me on YouTube, I’ll add more as privacy settings allow.

Can Premier League stop fans posting goals? – ICYMI – @SportsGeek News

Sports Geek ready for a big A-League seasonWhat @SportsGeek reads…..

Premier League warns about posting goal videos online, is it a futile exercise?

Pro sports teams walk a fine line using analytics to sell more stuff.

Want Wi-Fi at stadium? PSV Eindhoven fans don’t! They protest against introduction of Wi-Fi (click to see how)

Fox Sports shows sports fans the love with social engagement strategy.

Twitter urges celebrities to tweet at each other with new features for verified users.

Leveraging social and digital media to drive revenue in collegiate athletics.

Making the break from employee to entrepreneur with Steve Sammartino.

NFL films retains its name as it goes digital.

‘Madden Season’ is either the best or worst game advertisement ever

Keeping it simple: Why “The Ice Bucket Challenge” works..

These five Australian rugby league teams looked awesome playing as Marvel Comics superheroes.

Have you seen this? Nike RISE ‘House of Mamba’ LED court.

In case you missed it – Reprint of Sports Geek News – Wednesday 20th August 2014

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