SGP 065: Ted Johnson on Timberwolves rebuild

Ted Johnson is the Chief Marketing Officer of the Minnesota Timberwolves and has a background in politics that has served him well helping the Minnesota Timberwolves upgrade practice facility and their home court the Target Center.

Ted Johnson Timberwolves CMOOn this podcast you’ll learn from about:

  • How NBA teams are in an arms race for better facilities for players & coaches
  • Importance of partners for Timberwolves to get project up
  • Value of having a facility close to team operations
  • Excitement in Minnesota around the arrival of Andrew Wiggins
  • Why Ricky Rubio recognised my Australian accent
  • What is Dunks after Dark?
  • How the new NBA deal is a win-win for NBA
  • Why I played a game of football with some Socceroos
  • How you can with a Sports Geek T-Shirt.

Resources from the episode

What the Timberwolves have been up to

Follow the Timberwolves

Why Ted and Timberwolves fans are excited

Great turnout to welcome them

Dunks after Dark practice

Some memories of NBA Draft, this bar is now where the new practice facility is.

Why I was so sore recording this podcast

Chasing after these two former Socceroos at AAMI Park – Mark Bosnich and Craig Moore

Social Media Post of the Week

Geography not the Falcons strong suit…

But they do have a sense of humour

Get the NFL Look Book

Grab the NFL Look Book

Listening via iTunes?

Subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes, if you liked the episode please leave a review on iTunes and help spread the word on your network. Thanks in advance.

Leave an iTunes review

Listen or download episode here


Other platforms?

Sports Geek Podcast is also available on Soundcloud, Stitcher and AudioBoom

Want to pick my brain?

Sean Callanan is founder of Sports Geek, helping sports teams around the world connect with fans

I get asked all the time for people to pick my brain over a coffee or a phone call.  My brain is my business, but I am a giving guy.  If you are a subscriber to Sports Geek News (below) and are happy to be included on a future podcast I am happy to chat to you about how you can engage sports fans for your team or brand.

Find out more about me here

Book a free 15 minute chat

Don’t miss a thing, get Sports Geek News weekly

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SGP 064: Kevin Cote from Golden State Warriors & Jesper Nyholm on engaging Danish Olympic fans though health

Kevin Cote Warriors on Sports Geek PodcastOn this week’s Sports Geek podcast I catch up with a couple of good friends on on either side of the globe. Kevin Cote from the Golden State Warriors and Jesper Nyholm from Danish Olympic Committee about video, engaging fans and digital initiatives in health.

On this podcast you’ll learn from about:

  • What an off season looks like for NBA teams
  • How Warriors are growing a fan base in China
  • What sports teams can learn from Jimmy Fallon
  • How much video do you fans really want?
  • Why the best ideas for content can come from outside your digital team.
  • How to engage fans in between games, even Olympic games
  • How Danish Olympic Committee is helping corporates get healthy
  • How you can with a Sports Geek T-Shirt.

Resources from the episode

What the Warriors have been up to

Consider yourself warned… don’t Google Kevin

One of my fave tweets from #SEAT2014

Chatting with podcast guests Kenny Lauer, Oscar Ugaz and Richard Clarke, thanks Kevin for snapping it.

Happy Warriors

Connect with Jesper

Bringing Sports Geek to Denmark.

Challenging corporate staff to get healthy.

Social Media Post of the Week

Congrats to Cristiano Ronaldo on reaching 100 Million Facebook fans

Cristiano Ronaldo Facebook infographic

Listening via iTunes?

Subscribe to the Sports Geek Podcast in iTunes, if you liked the episode please leave a review on iTunes and help spread the word on your network. Thanks in advance.

Leave an iTunes review

Listen or download episode here


Other platforms?

Sports Geek Podcast is also available on Soundcloud, Stitcher and AudioBoom

Want to pick my brain?

Sean Callanan is founder of Sports Geek, helping sports teams around the world connect with fans

I get asked all the time for people to pick my brain over a coffee or a phone call.  My brain is my business, but I am a giving guy.  If you are a subscriber to Sports Geek News (below) and are happy to be included on a future podcast I am happy to chat to you about how you can engage sports fans for your team or brand.

Find out more about me here

Book a free 15 minute chat

Don’t miss a thing, get Sports Geek News weekly

Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
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Podcast Transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 64 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On this week’s podcast, I catch up with Kevin Cote from the Golden State Warriors, chat about video, China, and Jimmy Fallon, and how the Danish Olympic Committee engage fans and sponsors through health.

DJ Joe: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, the podcast built for Sports Digital and Sports Business professionals. And now here’s your host, who deleted Jelly after two days, Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joe. My name is Sean Callanan, and you are listening to the Sports Geek Podcast either on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or even AudioBoom. Yes, Jelly, I can’t even remember using Jelly, I got DJ Joe to record that so long ago. Maybe I might update it and replace it with Ello, the latest, hottest new social media that everyone’s all over. It won’t be around in three weeks time. On this week’s podcast, I catch up with Kevin Cote to talk about how the Warriors’ digital game has changed over the past few years and how they’re also engaging fans in the stadium with iBeacon technology. I’m going to catch up with Jesper Nyholm from the Danish Olympic Committee and talk about the challenge of engaging fans in between the big events that are the Olympics. There’s a lot of work to be done to get the brand out there and engage fans and sponsors in between Olympic Games.

I’ll also introduce the NFL Look Book later in the show that you can download from Sports Geek. I’m talking about Cristiano Ronaldo, the A-League and obviously the Cinderella story that is the Kansas City Royals in the Major League Baseball in reaching the World Series. Send me a tweet if you are listening. Hit me up @seancallanan or @sportsgeek. Love to know when, where and why you are listening to the Sports Geek Podcast. But that is enough from me. Let’s get stuck into the interviews. Up first is Kevin Cote from the Golden State Warriors on Sports Geek Podcast.

Sean: I’m very happy to welcome a good mate of mine, Kevin Cote, Senior Director of Digital at the Golden State Warriors. Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, Kevin.

Kevin Cote: Thank you for having me, excited to connect any time I can connect with you, either podcasts or otherwise, it’s always a happy occasion.

Sean: So NBA is in the off-season. I like to say, when speaking with anyone, and people always get the misnomer that there is an off-season when you’re working in digital. There is no off-season for you guys in the NBA. How has the off-season treated you guys at Golden State?

Kevin: We joke around here that it should be called the second season. I always laugh, every once in a while I’ll get the question from someone asking if, “Do you go to the office in the off-season?” It’s very, very funny to me. It’s busy as ever. It gets busier every year just with the role that technology plays, the role that digital plays not only for our fans, but also within the business as a whole, it kind of touches every department and makes us more and more in demand, but at the same time I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s much better than doing the same thing over and over every day. It’s an evolving space and it keeps us constantly on our toes. But this off-season has been filled with planning for the season ahead, obviously, but a lot of evaluation of vendors and partners and those types of activations, lots of content constantly throughout the off-season, everything from the draft to Summer League, we hired a new coach, we have a new arena we’re building at San Francisco. Plenty and plenty to keep us busy.

Sean: It is really a second season, because you can’t just go into planning mode, which is what you would like to do. You’d like to have that downtime to say how did this go, what do we want to plan next year, but you also have to keep feeding the machine of content, because the fans still want it. They still expect the tweets to come out, they still expect content to hit Facebook, they still expect reviews and previews and that kind of stuff hitting the website because the NBA, like a lot of leagues, is trying to become that 12-month league and fill content all the way through, so it’s a real balancing act in the off-season, because you are sort of serving two jobs. You’re in that planning mode and content driving mode as well.

Kevin: Yeah, most definitely. This is actually going to be my 11th season coming up, which more-so than anything makes me feel old, but it also makes me realize how far we’ve evolved. Eleven years ago we weren’t really our own media content company, but now we definitely are, and digital plays a big role in that. Like you said, the NBA has become a 12-month league and with that we have become a 12-month business in terms of content. But that’s great, that’s an opportunity. It’s something that we embrace. We always hope our season goes later and later each year, and we’re lucky enough to have a team right now that is on the upswing. I’ve definitely been in the organization long enough to where it ended in mid-April every year, and that was a given. But that’s no longer the case, and we’re lucky for that. But there is this constant interest from fans, and again, we’re lucky. We’re in sports, we have fans, we don’t have customers. Feeding that hunger is our job, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Sean: So you’re saying there about the change in encore fortunes. Winning is always a great formula for success, but it’s one of the components. How has things changed for you and the digital team from going from those days when the season did finish in April to now having a completely different and amped fanbase, a fuller stadium, selling more tickets and having more sellouts? How has that changed your marketing mix and marketing focus from, “we’ve got to sell tickets,” to, “we’ve got to engage the fan outside the stadium?” How has that changed your mix in the last couple years with the success on the court?

Kevin: It has changed and it hasn’t changed. It hasn’t changed in the fact that we’ve always had an incredible fanbase, even the years we were losing we had sellouts most nights and our fans are kind of known for how passionate they are, and well-deservedly. They’re an incredible base that we’re fortunate to have. Now that we’re winning, the interest is even higher, not only what has changed a lot I think in the last couple years is, that interest isn’t just local anymore. We’ve become more of a nationally known brand and even a globally known brand. That’s a big focus for us, to extend our reach beyond just here in the Bay Area. We have such a passionate fanbase, to still cater to those fans, but also to speak to fans worldwide. We’ve made a big investment in trying to become one of those teams in a market like China that is so hungry for the NBA.

We went over to China last season, we played the Lakers in two exhibition games, and I went with the team to represent the team kind of on the social and digital level. We started a Weibo account, we started a Chinese website, we are constantly keeping both of those channels up to date. It’s amazing to see the growth. For example, with Weibo, we’ve had it open for about 10 months now and we actually have more fans on Weibo than we have on Twitter and Instagram combined, which is crazy to think about, but shows us that that growth is there and there’s potential for it. We just have to continue to keep that as one of our main focuses.

Sean: It’s definitely on the radar. I heard Commissioner Adam Silver talking about this potential for Saturday morning games to be able to fit right into the Chinese prime time market to make the NBA more accessible. I guess that’s the opportunity there, because there are just so many fans there with this insatiable appetite for the NBA, and doing more of those kinds of outreach, and reaching them on those platforms is the opportunity for teams like the Warriors.

Kevin: Yeah, and it goes to show with the level of international players we have within the league itself. Obviously you and I have even talked about Mr. Andrew Bogut, who’s probably near and dear to your heart. Because of him we have a lot more interest in Australia, and it goes to show in merchandise sales and web traffic and social following. I know he’s even trying to campaign to have the next set of NBA Global games in Australia. If so I want to make sure I’m on that trip, too, because I hear only good things. It goes to show just how things continue to grow in a global fashion, especially with the NBA, the league as a whole. Our job is to try to capitalize on that.

Sean: Yeah, I think definitely Andrew Bogut going to Golden State would have definitely… there are plenty of Australian fans that are happy that he’s now on the West Coast. It’s a friendlier time for us to watch, and being on a team like the Warriors, it’s always easy for us to tune in. So there are a lot of Warriors fans. If you want to come to Melbourne we’re more than willing to open up Rod Laver Arena for the Warriors. It will be full, no doubt.

Kevin: Okay, well, if it happens, I’m going to take credit via this podcast.

Sean: No worries. Well, first, we’ve just announced it , it eventually will happen, and we’ll just claim credit later on.

Kevin: That sounds good.

Sean: Yeah, but going back to the stadium, one of the case studies that you talked about at SEAT with the guys at PogoSEAT was how you guys are using iBeacons in multiple ways, one with the sit upgrades around Oracle Arena. Do you want to talk about some of the tech that guys like Kev Akers have sort of rolled into the stadium and how it makes your job a lot easier?

Kevin: Yeah, for sure. Being in the Bay Area, we kind of have to be ahead of the curve, on the cutting edge, however you want to say it, with all things respective to technology and digital. We have higher-ups from Facebook and Twitter and Google at our games and we have fans who work for those companies. We have fans who are just naturally socially savvy because they live here. Because of that they have certain expectations, and we have to live up to that, which again is a challenge but also a great opportunity and something that’s a lot of fun. With respect to Beacons, that’s a specific technology that we were definitely early adopters in last year, installing it in a live environment mid-way through the year, constantly testing and refining how the technology works, but then also educating fans and educating staff on the benefits of it and opportunities.

For fans, we really narrowed it down, when the playoffs came, to three main activations and usages of the Beacons that were both beneficial to fans but also helped drive the business, because that’s always what we’re measured against. One of them was just a Welcome To Warriors Ground message as soon as you step through any entrance. Upon swiping that message or receiving it on your app, you are told that you actually get a free playoffs Warriors wristband, silicon wristband just for having the app and activating that content. So that was a win-win for the fans, for us, we were able to see how many fans actually received the bracelets and activated, the fans got something for free and they were able to see, “Oh, I kind of get why I should be looking out for these messages.” The other one was as soon as you entered our team store you actually were greeted with a video from Harrison Barnes, one of our players who basically said, “Welcome to the team store. Thanks for downloading our app. Here’s another exclusive offer just for you.” You look below the video and it’s a 10% off offer for all of our merchandise.

We don’t do a lot of discounting either, so this was a pretty special offer for our fans to receive, especially during the playoffs, and again a business driver. Then the third one, which I spoke about at SEAT, was we have SEAT upgrade technology within our mobile app, so when we were originally thinking about Beacons, one of the first things that popped into our head was, “Why don’t we put one at the top of the escalator?” As soon as you get to the top of the escalator it tells you, “Hey, did you know you can upgrade your SEATs?” We’re in a pretty much a sold-out situation every night, which we’re very fortunate and lucky for. The inventory isn’t ideal, but there are always still available lower-level tickets due to NBA holds that we have to hold back until the last minute. So there are always opportunities to upgrade. That was a great way to showcase the technology, to raise awareness for the fact that we had SEAT upgrades, and then also to drive revenue. So a win-win for everybody again.

Sean: And the feedback from the fans, because it is new technology, do you have to explain it to them and educate them on how it’s used and why it’s used? It’s almost in surprise and delight mode when this type of technology rolls out, because they’re not expecting to be at the top of the escalator and be told here’s the functionality in the system, did you know it exists? It might make your experience better.

Kevin: Yeah, honestly that was the biggest challenge with the technology was just the education of fans, and the education that we received from a nerdy technical standpoint. What operating system fans are using, what phones, what versions of the phones, whether they had our mobile app or the updated version of our mobile app that has an SDK integrated into it. There were all these hurdles from an education standpoint, but that’s also where being an early adopter in technology, those are things you know you’re going to go through, but that’s also critical learnings because it helps you understand how to improve the experience moving forward. That was during the playoffs, and unfortunately we lost in game seven in the first round against the Clippers, so that’s where the experiment stopped. But this off-season there has been a lot of planning into what we can do to improve upon those experiences, which makes me very excited for the season that’s coming up.

Sean: The opportunity now is that you can start framing those messages to be different messages for different people based on their usage of the app and starting being more sophisticated in what those messages are because you want to be making sure you’re presenting that right offer to the right fan, because they’ve turned up to many games or those kinds of things. Is that where you’re going to take the technology this season?

Kevin: Exactly. That’s the hope, that we get even more sophisticated, more granular in the level of the personal approach. That’s also really the benefit for the fan as well. For them we’re in the world of big data and making data-driven decisions, that’s definitely where we want to be, but you also have to make it worth the while of the fan. It can’t be a Big Brother approach, and it can’t be inundating them with constant messaging. It has to make sense for them, otherwise they’re either going to tune it out or they’re going to delete your app. The goal is to incentivize, but then also to personalize. That’s where we want to be heading and where we’re thinking that the technology is definitely going to evolve over the next couple years.

Sean: From you team’s point of view, from a digital point of view, and I’m looking at your LinkedIn, it’s always good to go back and look at someone’s job titles as you started with e-marketing and now it’s digital. Do you want to take us through what your team looks like from a roles point of view and who’s in your team and what they’re looking at so people get a feel for how many people you’ve got involved to produce all this content from a social point of view and also from a digital point of view?

Kevin: Yeah, sure. This was an easier answer maybe five years ago than it is now because digital has crossed into so many departments, that we have input and collaboration with every department. As far as who’s tasked with the day-to-day tasks of digital, I oversee all things related to web, social media, all things mobile, email marketing, and then with some collaboration in the video space as well. With those channels, minus video, there are basically six of us now who are looking at everything day-to-day but also helping with the innovation engine. We see it as two different engines. The performance engine, which is all the day-to-day tasks associated with all things digital, and the innovation engine of how we’re improving upon things looking forward, how we’re experimenting and trying different things out.

Luckily we have that sort of buy-in from our ownership and from our executive level, that we need to be testing things out, innovating, and not being afraid to fail. That’s something I know we’re extremely lucky to have that sort of buy-in, because you need that if you’re going to try to innovate in these ways. To your original question, including myself, there are six of us tasked with handling all those responsibilities, with input from every other department, and help from every other department, but then for us it’s also having an understanding and an empathy for every organizational objective and how we can tie in and help with that.

Sean: And the mix going forward, are you sort of following the path that a lot of leagues and teams are, pushing more into video and your fans wanting more and more of that video content?

Kevin: Yeah, most definitely. We actually just hired a brand new executive producer who was with the Giants for 14 years, and we’re really excited to have him on board. His name is Paul Hodges. He’s going to be helping really lead us in that video effort. We actually produced, I went through it the other day, we produced 600 pieces of original video content in the last 12 months, which is great and shows the level that we’re churning things out, but it also might be too much, putting up videos just to put them up, without an overarching strategy. While that’s a great number and it’s big, I don’t know if we want to have 600 pieces of original video content next year.

We’ll want to harness some of that and re-brand it and repackage it so it makes more sense and it’s not only going to live just on and on YouTube, but we find additional distribution channels, that we make broadcast-quality content that’s going to go on TV. We’re exploring other ways to reach our fans, whether it’s, again, in the United States or globally. There are certain restrictions we face with the league, with our broadcasting partner. We work within those agreements, but at the same time we’re constantly looking for ways we can push the boundaries in the effort of the goal of making ourselves a global brand.

Sean: I kept always looking outside of sports for inspiration for what sports can do. If you’re looking from a video strategy and making your brand bigger and making people aware of what you’re doing, you only have to look at, and these are the people at the top of their game, you only have to look at what Jimmy Fallon and Kimmel are doing with all of their video skits that are going on YouTube and becoming viral and becoming the must-see, must-share thing that are causing to tune in. Effectively you want to be able to produce those kinds of video pieces that become water-cooler talk, share-able everywhere, people want to tune in to find out what’s the next Warriors digital short. Is that the sort of space you’d like to be in?

Kevin: Most definitely. That’s something we talk about a lot here. We too often get confined into comparing ourselves to other NBA teams or maybe other sports teams, which is good and a good way to measure yourself, but we want to consider ourselves an entertainment company that happens to play basketball. With that, comparing ourselves to other industries, looking for best practices in other industries, but understanding the media and entertainment landscape as a whole, understanding that we are our own media entertainment company, and taking cues and inspiration from people like Jimmy Fallon, you definitely hit the nail right on the head on that, and knowing that we have the opportunity to be creative in that way is liberating to some extent.

It’s fun to just sit here and brainstorm about what’s possible. We also have a great group of guys on the team itself that definitely gets that and understands that. Especially, I guess, as I get older the players get younger, they come into the league already knowing all about social and already having a presence and already having some of that training. A few years ago that wasn’t the case and it was a lot of us kind of helping guide that, but now all these guys are socially savvy and understand media. It’s great to work with them and use them as an asset and be there to help them as well, if they need it, and kind of work in that way.

Sean: For the people listening, I know Kevin’s got to go in a minute, to another meeting, but definitely check out your Happy music video take of Pharrel’s Happy. It’s exactly in that spot of getting everyone dancing, show the Warriors brand overall, the players got involved, that was a massive success for you guys last year.

Kevin: Yeah, that was a lot of fun. We got in on that really early. That inspiration came from our Game Ops department, that’s where it goes to show the collaboration with all departments here. They saw that video and they thought, “Oh, my God, that’s going to be huge, we need to do something.” We jumped on it and we actually got to the point where Pharrel performed at half time at the All Star game and he was all in on the video, he already re-tweeted it a few months before that. It got to the point where we got to connect with him in the All Star game. He did a personal message for our fans and that became a good moment for the entire season and something that evolved out of a brainstorming idea in a small room, that evolved into a much bigger showcase for the brand and also a fun nod for our fans.

Sean: That’s a great takeaway, even though you’ve got a team of six in your digital team and your wider team, the fact that there’s plenty of great ideas in your whole organization, so if you can make sure you’re having those conversations, someone else might see something that will be a hot topic or a trend or have a great idea, being able to let anyone put in a suggestion or tap you on the shoulder is great advice for any team, I think. Otherwise you’re just insular and looking in your own team.

Kevin: Yeah, and beyond that, we’re lucky to be in the Bay Area where our neighbors are Facebook and Google and Twitter and so many other great tech companies. So those are our neighbors, but they also become content partners for us. So we’re able to test things out and try things out and have that kind of conversation with them and take advantage of our location. So we try to take advantage of that as much as we can, as well.

Sean: Well, thank you very much, Kevin, for coming on the podcast. I know you’ve got to jump into another meeting, so very much thank you for spending some time. I’m looking forward to catching up with you in San Francisco for SEAT next year. I might even pop over earlier to catch a Warriors game.

Kevin: Yeah, definitely. I’m glad you have your voice back. I hope next year at SEAT, I think last year at SEAT you were on crutches, this year you lost your voice, so hopefully next year you’re at 100%.

Sean: No, apparently, I’m meant to do live surgery on stage if the trend continues.

Kevin: Yeah, one or the other.

Sean: Yeah, one or the other. Thanks very much and I’ll speak to you soon.

Kevin: All right, cheers.

DJ Joe: Sign up for Sports Geek news at

Sean: Thanks again to Kevin Cote for coming on the podcast. I hope to get back to San Francisco before SEAT next year and catch a few games like I did last March, in 2013. I was lucky enough to go to a Warriors game. For those who are looking to register for SEAT, get your tickets now for both SEAT 2015 in San Francisco, early bird registrations are open. And I’ve been speaking to Christine, sales are going quite well, expected to be sold out, so don’t suffer from FOMO, fear of missing out, by missing out on SEAT next year. For those of you who are listening from London, SEAT London has been announced. March 17, 2015, it’s going to be held at the Lords Crew Ground. It’s going to be a one-day conference, and we’re going to see if we can develop this similar kind of conference in London.

So if you’re in that sports technology space, definitely from a London point of view, turn up and register now for SEAT London. It’s being run by Christine Stoffel in conjunction with Dennis Mills from Major Events International, both good friends of mine. It will be a cracking conference. We’ve got some great speakers already, the guys from the 49ers will be there talking about Levis Stadium. So if you’re in London and you want to be involved simply go to or SEAT 2015 and you’ll be redirected to the SEAT website.

It was a really interesting talk, I should say, with Kevin Cote, especially on the video, 600 pieces of video and contemplating whether that needs to be more or less. We’re really doing a lot of content reviews now with our AFL and NRL clients. It’s really based around my keynote at SEAT in Miami around who are you framing the content for, what are the results you’re trying to get out of it, what commercialization opportunities are there in some of the content you’re producing. So if you’re in that review and planning mode for next season, please give me a call or send me an email,, would love to help you out.

My next chat is with Jesper Nyholm from the Danish Olympic Committee, he’s a fellow SEAT Steering Committee member. We talk about engaging fans in between Olympic games. Very happy to welcome a good friend of mine and fellow member of the international steering committee of SEAT all the way from Denmark, Jesper Nyholm, welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, mate.

Jesper Nyholm: Thank you, Sean. Thank you for having me.

Sean: Well, first of all, we have been going backwards and forwards on the email since Miami trying to organize this. We were meant to do this in Miami, but my lack of voice stopped me doing a few interviews. First of all, I want to get into what your role is and what you’ve been doing with the Danish Olympic Committee. Do you want to give us a little bit of history about your role and how your role has grown working with the Danish Olympic Committee?

Jesper: Yeah, sure. The Olympic Committee of Denmark is having a tough job getting sponsors because, you know, the sponsor market has been in trouble especially maybe in Europe. In the last five or six years we’ve been exploring how digital could help us raise the money we need to create world class athletes. I have joined forces with the Olympic Committee because of the background I have within digital media, and try to be the guy promoting these activities, making more money for the Committee.

Sean: So part of that, through the development, doing campaigns for sponsors and things like that, and we’ll dive into some of the stuff you’ve done, but part of that is just, this year you’ve effectively spun off a digital agency that is under the umbrella of Sport One Danmark, Seven Peaks. So effectively now you’re running that and driving all the digital initiatives that the Olympic Committee has with sponsors.

Jesper: Exactly. Because there’s such a gap between what we’re doing commercially non-digital and digital, we decided to create an agency focusing exclusively on the digital part. I’m in charge of that, as you say at Seven Peaks, where I mean to make people peak seven days a week. With the knowledge, the Olympic athletes and the staff behind the athletes, they actually create.

Sean: So that name, and I did not know that until you just said that, so that name really harks back to one of the questions that you put to me after SEAT around one of the big focuses was game day and everybody was talking about game day and engaging the fan on game day, how can we engage them on the way to the stadium, how can we engage them via mobile. You posted a question back to me about heavier fan engagement in between games. That’s pretty much where that Seven Peaks, piquing their interest, you can do it several ways, but piquing the fans’ interest every day of the week, not just game day. That really has to be a focus for you guys being in the Olympic movement. You’ve got these big events every two years, but you’ve got this time that they’re not super active in between. Is that sort of where that question came from, if I can get that question out the door?

Jesper: Yeah, exactly Sean. When I attend SEAT, I envy those guys so much. In basketball, they have like 80 games a season, in baseball even more. We are sitting pretty tight waiting for the next Olympics in Rio in 2016, so that’s exactly what I’m focusing on here is, “Hey, we have off-time from the stadium, where can we make the money and how can we engage the fans between the games?” Exactly, that’s what Seven Peaks is all about.

Sean: You’re really looking at keeping the brand out there, keeping the lesser-known athletes more in the profile in the Denmark sports market? Is that a big part of your role?

Jesper: Exactly, because we’re only like six million people in Denmark. So to produce world class athletes and get sponsors interested in an event every second or fourth year, you need to be able to promote the athletes, the activities and all the assets we have in sports in other ways than just focusing on the game.

Sean: So what are some of the things that sponsors are doing in between the games? What are some things you’re doing now? I see you’ve been tweeting about the Nordic challenge. Tell us a little bit about that and what focus the sponsors want in between games.

Jesper: Well, we have two things that we’re focusing on mainly, but both of them jump out of the same asset we have. It’s the knowledge. We have so many people creating knowledge here in the Olympic Committee, and that knowledge is all about becoming the best you can be. We have created two products that we use for our sponsors. One of them is what we call the Winner Academy, where leaders in medium-sized and large companies, they go to an academy and learn everything about handling a team and creating winner mentality among the employees in their company. It’s actually athletes and trainers and coaches and sports psychologists that are teaching the sponsor’s employees here. So that’s like one part.

The other part is in this digital campaign software, where all the employees in the company of a sponsor get to join an up to 12 weeks campaign where they try to break all the bad habits they have, habits that prevent them from performing the best they can, and instead promote the good habits, more exercise, eat healthy, less tobacco and less alcohol. As of now we have, as we speak, three campaigns running. One of them is the one you’re talking about for Nestle, where four countries are competing against each other. The employees of Nestle in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland, they’re actually competing about who can create the most health in 10 weeks.

Sean: You’re tracking their activities? They’re using wearables or anything like that? Or is it just a matter of them logging in and logging steps and those kinds of things?

Jesper: Well, to begin with, everybody is tested. This is done by both a physical exam and also a questionnaire. Based on that questionnaire everybody gets an individual point goal, points where they have to reach these points on average everyday throughout the campaign. Then every day they go to the website and they track their eating habits, their sleeping habits, their exercise habits, and also their work/life balance habits. Actually we managed to have 80% of all the employees signing up for this, and among this 80% we have like 75% who complete a campaign like this with reporting every day. That creates a massive change in the organization. Less people are sick, people are more motivated, social capital raises, and all these things we see as well in a team of sports people when you work together.

Sean: So really, I mean, from a sponsorship point of view, you’re really tackling that staff engagement space, rather than that customer-focused, sell more widgets or get more traffic to their site. You’re really focusing on, we’ve got this in-house talent of athletes that are driven, that know how to be the best at what they do, and you’re trying to push that message of health and get more people active using the Olympic message, using the branding of the Danish Olympic Committee, but engaging your sponsor’s employees.

Jesper: Exactly, that’s what we’re doing. Every person in Denmark, and I guess that’s the same in the rest of the world, or if you’re a fan of any other team or any other sport, you would love to be closer to that brand that you’re proud of.

Sean: I think that’s really, really important and I think there’s a lot of, especially in the sponsorship game, of not realizing, a lot of the time the sponsor will come to you or come to a sports team really wanting to access your database and access your fans and sell them something, but I think there are a couple of times, and this is one of them, when you can flip the script, and rather than saying let the sponsor mine your data, is to let you help them and effectively you can mine their data. Their data in this case is their staff, whether it’s getting them engaged and getting them healthy or selling them tickets and those kinds of things, it’s really important to realize that there’s another database in that transaction, and it’s the one the sponsor brings and what value can you bring to their database, not really always have it that one way, sell stuff to my fans sort of relationship.

Jesper: And even more, Sean, what we’re experiencing right now is that the sponsor who are experiencing their employees becoming more healthy and more engaged in their daily work, the sponsor is starting to think, “What if we did this and reached out to our customers? What if all our customer base experienced the same thing?” In that way, as the Olympic Committee, we’re getting closer and closer to where the big decisions are made at our sponsors. And for a good reason, because we create value, true value, not just visibility and beers in stadiums.

Sean: Yep. And that’s the thing, you’re effectively giving them, I guess, the employee model as a way to say this campaign works, then they have the option to flip that to their own customers at a wider reach.

Jesper: Exactly.

Sean: That’s a real big thing. It’s something you have to do in that in-between times. I want to take you back to actually when you’re in games mode because as much as you said the NBA have 40 home games and the Major League Baseball have stacks more, and the NFL has a shorter amount of games, but really huge events, but an Olympic Games is like compacting one of those one seasons into a two-week period. Do you want to take us through what it’s like inside an Olympic team and keeping all those digital campaigns going and engaging the fans? What is it like in that inner sanctum during a Games?

Jesper: During the Games it’s hectic because many athletes, even though they play in the NBA or the NFL or wherever they play, will at the end of their career state that the biggest thing they ever experienced was participating at the Olympic Games. This is just such a huge thing, even in Denmark where maybe we have like 100 athletes going to the Summer Olympics. It starts the day the last Olympic ends. That’s when we start building up for the next Olympic Games. Actually, in Denmark the Winter Olympics, even though you should think so, is very small for us, because we have like eight or 10 athletes going. You have to go to Sweden or Norway to become a little more excited about that. So it’s actually the Summer Olympics that’s big for us. Every day we have great people working to try to get the athletes to become better and better and better, and eliminate all the obstacles that stand between the athletes and their ability to bring back gold for Denmark.

Sean: One of the things I wanted to know, we sort of seeing, because the Olympics is every two years, it obviously has been a little bit slow to get up to speed with everything digital, especially the social point of view and the really locked down media rights and what you can and can’t do, and their policies didn’t quite catch up to things like Twitter and Vine and Instagram and things like that. Looking at least from London to Soshi, did you see that get better a little bit and the reigns loosen a little bit and the Games becoming a little more socially active, both from the participants’ point of view, the athletes, and the organizing bodies?

Jesper: I think we still have a long way to go because, for example, as a commercial unit here in Denmark, the National Olympic Committee, the NOC, every country has an NOC responsible for managing the IOC rights in that specific region of the world. So it’s pretty much up to every country instead of the IOC to promote good guidelines. They just take care of the big, massive sponsors. In every country we have to figure out our own way to engage people digitally or offline. That’s tough because we don’t have the resources to do that. I’m trying to promote that digital would actually be the most economical way to do that, probably. But it takes time and I believe that we have to get past Rio in 2016 because in Rio everybody will experience that. Even the sponsors that are engage here, if they’re not social, the people will be anyway, and they will lose out.

Sean: The thing is, I mean, again, to use the football, the NFL or Premier League or even the ALF here, unfortunately the Olympic movement doesn’t get that opportunity to go, “Let’s try this, this week and see how it worked, and tweak it and do something different,” because you can’t be making tactical changes throughout a 14-, 16-day tournament. You’ve pretty much got to do all your planning, get ready to go, and yes you can review how it went after it, but you can’t be making those changes over a six-month period to see how things went, which is primarily one of the reasons why, other than the IOC being a really large organization and the fractures that there are because of the NOCs running things, it does make it very hard to be agile and nimble and up with the latest when you’re only getting a two week shot at something every two years.

Jesper: Yeah, and besides that, to complete that picture you have to think that, if it was an inability, it’s like for every game you have to build a new stadium, and all these things just make the project or the campaign or the initiative so much bigger, that it’s hard to focus on everything the same way. So the Olympics are definitely behind when it comes to engaging socially and digitally, and it will take some time before we get there.

Sean: The thing is, though, from your point of view again, from the Danish Olympic Committee’s point of view, you’re still looking to tell all the stories that aren’t being told by the official broadcasters, by the IOCs channels, because you want to make sure that your story gets out, and that’s the point of differentiation. So you’re very much similar to a sports team, whether it be the New England Patriots or Arsenal, you’re trying to tell and sell, because you are commercializing it, the Denmark Olympic message, whether it be a particular team, a particular athlete that’s running or swimming or whatever it is, you’ve got to get that message out and you want to make sure that your home base, your website and your social channels, are a destination of choice when the Olympics are on. So that’s always something that you’re trying to drive.

Jesper: Exactly. I guess every country will try to do the same thing. It would be great if there was some kind of collaboration between… you could promote this even more with the benefits of everybody.

Sean: That’s the challenge, and I think the stuff that you’re doing in running the campaigns to build up that awareness of what you’re doing is going to give you that run-up to when the games come on because I think the World Cup is a good example, the recent World Cup in Brazil. The world’s attention literally turns onto those teams and those properties in the two or three weeks prior to that. There’s a really big window of making sure that the fans know what you are, what you provide, what kind of levels of content and service and response you can provide, because once it’s on there’s going to be such a flood of information from media partners and bloggers and fans that it does become very cluttered.

Jesper: Yeah, and our sponsors particularly, in Denmark, and of course in any other NOC, they’re concerned with that we’re not allowed to promote them outside of Denmark. That’s part of the-

Sean: I mean, that’s a little bit archaic. I spoke to Ted Johnson recently. He’s going to be on a future podcast. It’s similar to what the NBA had with those. In the early days, those geographic restrictions of what you can do, but digital doesn’t have a geographic boundary. It makes it very tough for you to say, “Jesper, send out that tweet with that sponsor message, but don’t let anyone outside of Denmark see it.” That’s just something that can’t happen anymore, and it really limits you if you can’t do that. We all know if you put up a Facebook post and you put a geographical boundary around it, you can pretty much kiss the EdgeRank goodbye because hardly anyone will see it. It really makes things tough for you in that sense.

Jesper: Yeah, and that’s what’s eventually going to help us drive the change here in the Olympic atmosphere, because you can’t maintain that way of working when we’re living in a digital world. Actually I don’t see that many reasons for this being a good idea that we’re trying to limit the sponsors that way. So I think it will change, Sean, after maybe the next or next Olympics again, we’ll see that the digital is so much far ahead than the guidelines we have for promoting sponsors. We need to change things.

Sean: The Olympic movement is definitely one that is moved by the money that’s involved, let’s be honest. So I think as more partners get involved and want to be doing promotions on digital and that money, if we look at Oscar Oga’s pie representing where the money is coming into sport as digital’s slice of that pie gets a little bit wider, the money for TV for the Olympics is always going to be big, the sponsorship money is always going to be big, ticketing is always an issue in getting those sales, but as the pie for digital grows, I think that’s when those kind of restrictions will start to loosen up because it will become really a key commercial driver for the Olympic Committees going forward. If they can work a way to produce great content and produce great campaigns for their sponsors, then that’s what they will be pushing for because it’s their own platform, digital. It offers their own platform. They don’t have to push it to another platform such as TV.

Jesper: Exactly. I totally agree.

Sean: Well, Jesper, I’m very thankful that we finally did get to catch up. I’m looking forward to catching up with you next year at SEAT. I hope you will be at San Francisco and I hope I’ll be able to talk to you this time.

Jesper: Yeah, that would be great. I’ll be in charge of the morning run, so you also have got to bring your running gear.

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

Sean: Thanks again to Jesper for joining me on the podcast all the way from Denmark. I’m really interested in the model that they’ve gone with at the National Olympic Committee with setting up Seven Peaks. It’s a little bit similar to MLB Advanced Media in setting up its own digital agency and funneling all the sponsors through there. It will be interesting to see if there are other sports and organizing bodies that follow that lead. I wanted to have a quick plug for the NFL Look Book. What we’ve done is we’ve taken all the NFL team websites and put them into one handy PDF. It’s not a small PDF, but it’s got all the team pages, so if you want to have a look at that, you can sign up and get it at If you’re a Sports Geek news subscriber, you’ll get it in the next email, but if you can’t wait, get it now. This week’s Sounds of the Game comes from the Kansas City Royals, thanks to their Instagram, making the world series.

Sounds of the Game: The one-one change-up. Fly ball. Deep left. Gordon back against the wall. Did he catch… he did catch that ball. Alex Gordon. Router to third, fair ball, Moustakis across, and 29 years of frustration have ended. The Royals are going to the World Series.

Sean: And I just love seeing the passion of the Royals fans and everything they’re doing online. It’s again, a real good example, same as what we saw with the Rabbitohs. Make sure you’re making the most of these opportunities and really pumping out the best content that you can that enables your fans to share it and get involved and be part of it and bring them into that inner circle. So keep an eye on what the Royals are doing, but also watch what the fans are doing and how you can adapt to that. Social media post of the week goes out to Cristiano Ronaldo, 100 million Facebook fans. He’s now the second most followed or liked person on Facebook behind Shakira.

That clock is telling me to get out of the podcast and let you guys get back to your lives. This episode’s show notes are at You can pretty much get every single episode by just putting the number after Check out the previous guests, Mark Cuban, Peter Stringer, Richard Clarke, guests from around the world. Please, if you haven’t listened to them, go back, tell me that you’re listening to them. Send me a tweet @seancallanan. I’ve got a challenge, going to run a bit of a competition. I haven’t run it past my legal team. What I want you to do is tweet me a picture of your iTunes review. You can leave a review on the iTunes store. To get there just go to It will take you to the iTunes store of your country. Take a snapshot of your iTunes review and tweet it to me.

For the next three episodes, everyone who sends me a tweet with their iTunes review, you’re going to go in the running and I’m going to give away one of my Sports Geek T-shirts. You can either get the old school Detroit Pistons logo one that I gave to Ben Newton previously with a Facebook cup or one with the Sports Geek logo. I might put up a few more Sports Geek T-shirt designs. Fun little competition, pretty much I just want you to tell me where you’re listening to it, when you’re listening to it. Podcasts is a slow burn, so it’s not immediate.

Thank you very much for listening. My name is Sean Callanan. You’ve been listening to the Sports Geek podcast. One final shout out. A big congratulations to all the team at the A-League with the really successful launch of the A-League last week, and it’s recently breaking through the hundred thousand member barrier, so at the end of this podcast a bonus sounds of the game, with all the A-League goals from the first round of the A-league. Congratulate the A-League guys and keep eye one, beautiful game.

DJ Joel. Check out which teams worked with Sports Geek at, find all Sports Geek Podcast at Sending your sounds of the game email Thanks for listening this Sports Geek Podcast.

Introducing the NFL Look Book

Sports Geek Look Book - NFL editionAt Sports Geek we are always keeping an eye on what leagues are doing in digital, in doing so we have decided to publish Look Books for each and every league around the world starting with the NFL.

What you’ll get:

  • PDF download profiling the home page of every NFL team
  • Stay tuned for more Look Books in the coming weeks
  • New subscribers will also get Sports Geek News weekly and a BONUS eBook of digital case studies

Thanks to the hardworking teams who built and keep the NFL team websites up to date.

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SGP 063: Brad Mayne on stadium technology & Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium

Brad Mayne on Sports Geek Podcast with Sean CallananBrad Mayne was one of the key people I met on my very first #SportsGeekTrip when he was CEO of American Airlines Center in Dallas, he is now CEO & President at MetLife Stadium in New York I catch up with him to discuss his career in sports and his recent experience hosting Super Bowl XLVIII.  I also reflect on a nightmarish experience leading up to the NRL Grand Final that had a very happy ending.

On this podcast you’ll learn from about:

  • The management differences between an indoor and outdoor stadium
  • How Brad’s ability working with multiple ownership groups was vital in new role at MetLife Stadium
  • How the technology demand on stadiums keeps increasing
  • The customer service demands on stadiums and how MetLife Stadium can turn around a bad fan experience
  • Moving to paperless ticketing and RFID technology
  • What would you do if your phone died before the big game?

Resources from the episode

Brad’s tweet morning after SB48

Luckily the cold weather didn’t hit during the game, but it didn’t miss by much.

Last time we met…

Social Media Post of the Week

Congrats to the South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL Premiers for 2014

and on Instagram


What a moment! #PrideoftheLeague #GoRabbitohs

View on Instagram

From the Rabbitohs Family Day using Google+ Auto Awesome feature


Humble Brag

3 of the last 4 NRL Premiers - Sports Geek Clients!

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Want to pick my brain?

Sean Callanan is founder of Sports Geek, helping sports teams around the world connect with fans

I get asked all the time for people to pick my brain over a coffee or a phone call.  My brain is my business, but I am a giving guy.  If you are a subscriber to Sports Geek News (below) and are happy to be included on a future podcast I am happy to chat to you about how you can engage sports fans for your team or brand.

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Podcast Transcription

Welcome to Episode 63 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On this week’s podcast, I catch up with Brad Mayne from MetLife Stadium to talk about the NFL game day experience and the technology needs of running an NFL stadium. And we look back at the NRL Finals. Congratulations to the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

DJ Joe: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast. The podcast built for sports digital and sports business professionals. And now, here’s your host who knows sports is a 24/7 business Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, DJ Joe. My name is Sean Callanan from Thank you very much for listening to another episode of the Sports Geek Podcast. If you’re a new listener and you just started listening after last week’s episode with Mark Cuban, thank you very much for coming back and thank you very much for everybody who is sending tweets, emails, and texts, and hit me up on Cyber Dust. SeanCallanan by Cyber Dust or @SeanCallanan via Twitter. Please send me a tweet and tell me where and when you’re listening. That’s quite funny with podcast serials, it’s really been… we’ve got a lot of feedback when I released the episode with Mark last week, kudos are getting and things like that. We’ve got the true feedback for 40 minutes later, or as people started listening to the podcast or while you were listening to the podcast. I was really pumped to get that feedback from people who’ve actually listen. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did making it.

I thought a good way to follow up that interview with Mark would be to follow up with Brad Mayne. I met Brad on my first Sports Geek’s trip and spoke and met him before back in 2010 when he was CEO of the American Airlines Center where the Dallas Mavericks play. So it was a great night at American Airline Center. I flicked Brad a note after doing the Mark Cuban interview just to say thanks. If I hadn’t have met Mark on that night and developed a business from that time, things like doing the Mark Cuban interview would not have been possible. So I caught up with Brad Mayne earlier today to chat about his role at MetLife Stadium, and what he is doing there with the stadium, it’s the home of the New York Jets and the New York Giants, and recently hosted on Super Bowl 48.

So I had a really good chat with him and that’s on this week’s podcast and then also later the podcast I’m going to go back and have a bit of a review of the NRL Grand Finals with the South Sydney Rabbitohs breaking a 43 year drought to win the NRL premiership. I’m really happy to see all of my mates at the Rabbitohs, Jerry Monahan, Chris Davis, Tom Skolarikis, and hopefully I got your name right, Tom. They’re the digital team behind the Rabbitohs. I have been working with him for a couple of years. We’re looking back at the numbers when we started work on the Rabbitohs digital things that had 8000 Facebook fans back in 2011, and they just recently smashed through 330,000 Facebook fans. So they’ve done a remarkable effort and I’ll talk a little bit about more of my experience at the NFL and NRL, I should say, in Grand Final a little bit later in the podcast.

So, again, if you’re a new listener please tell your friends it’s a Sports Geek Podcast developed in all group podcast ads and even the bad ones. We’re on iTunes, SoundCloud, Teacher, Audio Boom. If you can’t find it on the internet please let me know. Send me either a tweet at Sean Callanan or even send me an email But first, here’s my chat with Brad Mayne, CEO and President of MetLife Stadium.

I’m very happy to welcome on the podcast Brad Mayne, President and CEO of the MetLife Stadium. Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, Brad.

Brad: Thank you for having me.

Sean: For those who have listened to the podcast before, I’ve spoken about the time we’ve met back in 2010, when you were working for the American Airlines Center and you were a CEO there. Do you want to give us a little bit of background of your sports business journey? You’ve been working at the Stadium game for a long time. Do you want to tell us a little bit about how you’ve started and what you’ve been doing to get to the point of where you are at MetLife?

Brad: Sure. And, Sean, if I remember correctly, I think it was the 20,000th point at switch 41 Dirk Nowitzki was able to score that night the game.

Sean: Yes, it was. It was a very memorable night. So I’ve actually shared the video of Dirk Nowitzki, the celebrations after his scoring his 20,000 MBA point. So I’m very thankful you’ve invited me up. And, finally, I’ve just got a message back from Jill Dots just this morning replying back to me saying that she remembers that night fondly as well. So, again, thank you very much for that night.

Brad: That was great. So my career has been long, I’ve done quite a few things. It was great being the President and CEO of American Airlines Center. I was brought in at the very beginning of that project, I was involved in the design, the financing, the construction, and, of course, in my 14 1/2 years there we won a Stanley Cup Championship with the Dallas Stars and then followed that up with the championship for the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks. So I had a great time there in Dallas.

Sean: And the thing is that you were there for the whole time so you started American Airlines Center in ’98 so you were there when Mark took over the Mavericks and one of the things he talked about in the chat that I had with him is that he was one of the first guys to bring the tech into the stadiums. So that would have been completely bleeding edge at the time in the early 2000 to be putting it in Wi-Fi and upgrades into a stadium.

Brad: Yes. What was great about Mark was, because of his background and his knowledge and successes in the information technologies arena, he was such a great resourceful. He was passionate; he was willing to spend the money into a great thing. He was also very calculated and what types of technologies he felt would enhance that guests experience and not compete with what was actually happening on the court. So I gained a lot of wonderful insight from both the technology side and from the guest experience side from Mark. He is a very passionate owner. Cares very much about the experience the guests have when they actually come to the arena. A great time in my career was that I was able to learn from one of the best men in ownership in any of the major sports.

Sean: So you took over the role at MetLife Stadium which is, for the people that don’t know, home of the Giants and the Jets in the NFL so it’s one of the few stadiums that you shared from an NFL point of view. You took over that role in August 2012. What was some of the lessons coming from a stadium that was again multi-sport? You had the stars in the NHL and the Mavs as well as all the entertainment options at the American Airline Center to going to a football focus, to an outdoor stadium? What were some of the lessons in that change going to that kind of venue?

Brad: Well, I think one of the reasons I was probably asked to come here was because I had experience in dealing with two different ownership groups, then I worked for Stars and the Mavericks. The difference here is that as opposed to an NHL team and an NBA team, they’re not competitive on the same field. Here I’ve got two NFL teams that are competing against one another for the same fans, same broadcast opportunities and the likes. So it’s a little bit different from that standpoint. The two ownership groups here, the Mara and Chris families with the Giants and Woody Johnson with the Jets. The good news is that they’re very passionate about the guest experience and what takes place in the stadium. They’ve done a great job for us. It was interesting the first full month I was here in September and having been in arenas most of my career, when you had a bad weather situation, you moved people from the exterior of the arena into the sitting bowl for protection.

Here, at this stadium you move people out of the sitting bowl and into the concourses for protection because usually the bad weather is going to be a lightning storm. That first month we had a football game with US Caesars and Syracuse where we had to move everybody out of the sitting bowl and then we had our third night of Bruce Springsteen where we had an electrical storm came through. So that was interesting to figure out what the weather was going to be and how long we had to hold on the event because in an arena you are inside, you’re protected. You can continue the event if it’s not too bad of a weather, where here you’re definitely affect the play or the entertainment. You have to hold off and wait until the facility is safe for people who sit in.

The other thing besides the weather, when you’re working with 82,000 people as opposed to 19,000 people, the enormity of operating a stadium really takes a lot of time and energy. Frankly, it affects the surrounding amenities so much more when you bring in 23 to 27,000 cars, bringing in 10 to 12,000 people on trains and buses. It definitely has both a challenging effect but also a positive economic impact on the surrounding communities. So there really are differences in going from an arena standpoint where everything is climately-controlled to an outdoor stadium where everything is based on how good the weather is. Whether it’s raining or freezing or snowing, which we have all of those things happened here the New York Market.

Sean: And it was the weather I think, one of the big discussion points for the Super Bowl that you hosted where we saw the Seahawks get the win over the Broncos. We spoke to Kean Nelson about the experience from the Seahawks’ point of view going through that Super Bowl week. What’s a Super Bowl week like for the stadium and the hosts from a point of view of logistics?

Brad: It’s interesting that we were the Super Bowl first of many aspects. Number one, it’s the first Super Bowl that was hosted by two NFL teams, the Jets and the Giants. It was the first Super Bowl that was hosted in two different states, both in New York and in New Jersey. It was the first cold weather open stadium, so the weather was definitely a very big concern for all of us and it was amazing that the week leading up to the Super Bowl we had pipes that were freezing and bursting. Because normally in January or February the stadium is closed and so we are able to winterized the stadium, but once it hadn’t be open and operating we have some of those challenges and then, of course, the Super Bowl Sunday came and people arrived, some of them were in short sleeves carrying their jackets with them. And the fact of the matter is kickoff to the Super Bowl was actually warmer then the first pitch being flown by the New York Mets on opening day.

Of course, I left here at 2:30 in the morning after the Super Bowl and I knew that we had to move everybody out that have prepared for the Super Bowl. Check in, back in and arrived at 6:00 am, walked in to the end of one of the tunnels, took the picture of the five inches of snow that had fallen in that few short hours, took a picture with my iPhone, tweeted it, Bryan Murphy from NFL, picked it up and re-tweeted it, and all of a sudden my phone went off the hook and saw the National Media wanting to use my picture for the evening news, to talk about miraculous weather that we had for the Super Bowl.

Sean: Yes. Well, you can count your lucky stars for that because it did turn out to be a terrific day. There was a lot of talk about the weather but it all came off in the end. And there was a lot of preparation to be ready for the Super Bowl and to upgrade the infrastructure of the stadium from a Wi-Fi and cellular infrastructure point of view. I spoke to Michelle McKenna-Doyle at SEAT and she spoke about like analyzing how much data that was being used at the Super Bowl. I think it was 3.2 terabytes of data sent by fans from their phones at the game. Obviously people wanted to make sure that they send out a photo and send out a tweet and brag that they were at the Super Bowl. What was it like running that project and getting that infrastructure in place, so getting hacked in Mark Cuban’s point of letting the fans use the technology when they want to, but they really want to be part of the game? How was it part to run that project and get the stadium up to scratch?

Brad: Yeah, it was a benefit for us long-term because we had to upgrade the system. And one year prior we began using consultants and different contractors to give us some guidance and direction. Of course, we had information as how much the IT became a part of the games for prior seasons, prior Super Bowls, and each year the amount of technology that was being used at the games and that was growing exponentially. So we just extrapolated out what had happened at three years prior, where we thought we needed to be, and fortunately we were able to take advantage of installing everything here and making it permanent. Actually, it’s been a blessing for us going forward. It’s interesting that we more than quadrupled the amount of capacity we have for a Wi-Fi and cellular standpoint in order to take care of the Super Bowl.

When you get off from a pipeline that was about to 200Mb to up to 1 Terabyte for your pipeline coming in and out, and then all of the additional infrastructure that allow for the down streaming and up streaming, the inbounds, the outbounds, it was an amazing experience. What’s interesting is we’ve proven now with gathering the data that we had prior to the Super Bowl, we had some guests who were underserved because we didn’t have enough capacity to take care of everything that they wanted to do. And now today we do. We follow that very closely with each one of our games. The scary thing is that with the new phones that were coming out, going from G to the N band, they use up a lot more of the Wi-Fi capacities than the old phones do.

And with everybody upgrading and updating their phones, what’s interesting is, one the pieces of data that we found is as people come to our events, their phones have been doing updates to their phones, but hasn’t really fully updated until it arrives here with the capacity of such that it allows the phones to then do an enormous amount of inbound data to their phones that they otherwise they’re not getting. And I don’t know that they actually understood that that’s what’s happening with their smart phones. So it’s really worked out quite well for us.

Sean: Yes, I’ve spoken to John Branson at Extreme and some of the stuff that the analytics they’ve done with their partnership with the NFL was that a lot of fans don’t connect to Wi-Fi that often. So when they turned up to a stadium, a big chunk of the data that’s been downloaded is people updating their apps and updating their operating systems. So I think the sophistication of how the pipeline is offered to fans and blocking that kind of thing, it would be sort of the next phase. I think the other thing that’s different if we listen to what Mark was saying about what he wants the fans to use their smartphones for; it doesn’t fit for basketball because it is such action-packed. There are no breaks in the action to pick out your phone and look at it, whereas the NFL with all the breaks in play, all the TV spots. It really does fit itself to pulling out your phone, checking in on red zone on another game, because you’re not missing anything at a game. So it’s a different type of smartphone use that’s in an NFL game that would lend itself to want more Wi-Fi.

Brad: Yeah, that’s true. And the other thing we found is with the Fantasy Sports that many people are participating in. They’re paying attention to individuals on other teams and the amount of access that they need in order to follow how well their team is doing, eats up a lot of our pipeline as well.

Sean: Yes, Fantasy football and Fantasy Sports around the world still seems to be massive traffic driver for those both in the stadium and outside the stadium. So now you’ve got the infrastructure there, now the responsibility is to be able to respond to these fans and give them the information that they want. Like, when we were in the dark ages, when people could not connect, a stadium was a little bit hamstrung, you couldn’t talk to your fans because they couldn’t connect, that was the problem. But now that problem has been alleviated, you’ve had to develop a new website for MetLife and I guess the demands of your staff from a game day, from communicating with fans in a digital form or using social media, that’s grown as you rolled out more of this Wi-Fi.

Brad: Yeah, it really has. We found social media integration to be very important for us. We have taken that guest experience to that next level. Digital and guest services teams work together in making sure that that fan experience was really well. In fact, for quite some time a lot of the stadium had, “Text this number if you’ve got a question or a problem.” And you’d get the text and then you have to send people to certain areas to handle whatever those questions or challenges were. Now we can actually communicate right directly to the users whenever they have a situation they need information on or a problem that they want to bring to our attention. We can actually communicate with them in real time and actually be able to resolve the issue in a much better fashion and that’s one thing the NFL has put a very large amount of time and energy into is that guest experience and the social media has taken a position that allows us to do that and, of course, without the upgrades on the Wi-Fi and the cellular infrastructures, we wouldn’t be able to accommodate as well as we do.

Sean: Yea, you know I’ve helped stadiums sort of position themselves from a social media point of view and how they do their marketing but it’s that customer service side, especially on game day being able to be closely integrated with the stadium operations, because someone will tweet you that there’s a burst pipe in a toilet facility, or that the lines are exceptionally longer in the hot dog stand. You know, I’ve helped direct the traffic at SEG during a big test match, and seeing that traffic coming in and if you can respond to those fans and be that customer service, you can really turn around some of those issues and fix them far quickly because the fans know that they just need to send you a tweet and tell you that there is something the matter and you can get the stadium operations people on to it.

Is that something that I guess the Super Bowl there was that social media concierge service that the stadium was part of as well as the transport authorities and things like that? Was that something that worked really well because there’s a lot of people to direct and give information to on a Super Bowl week? Was that something that worked really well during that Super Bowl time?

Brad: Yeah, it has. And what’s interesting is that with these different platforms that you can use now, and you can plug in keywords or phrases, and you can watch with Agile Fencing and other systems, you can watch what’s taking place within your stadium and react to people that they have no idea that you are actually out there looking for the kind of comments that they have. One of the stories that happened here recently is that somebody said something along the lines of a tweet, “Thanks MetLife stadium for the frozen connect.” And we immediately tweeted back to him and said, “That’s not right. Get us more information.” And he took a picture of the receipt and tweeted that back to us, that showed that they were at the stadium, we tweet back that were he was sitting and then we send our guest services folks down to get a good hot caniche and take it right down to their seat form.

It really helps us to take challenging situations for our guests and turn into a really positive and memorable experience to where they say, “Wow, I just sent something out to social media and really didn’t expect the stadium to respond to it, and yet here they are taking care of the problem in real time and thank you, I will be a fan forever.”

Sean: Yeah, and that’s the thing that you are taking what is a negative experience and you’re flipping it completely because the fan becomes a brand ambassador, say one for them on they’re using at ML Stadium and they telling people what a great experience was, and you can just turn that around, and it is a one-by-one type of process but as you’re building up those advocates, they’ll be the ones that will tell their friends, “Don’t forget, tag the stadium, if you have a problem, they will solve it there. They’re on the case,” and then obviously that bag gets set and it’s about it, as a stadium, you’ve got to keep reaching because if you drop it at any stage then you start losing those fans.

Brad: Correct. The other thing too, Sean, is we used our platforms to inform. We want to make sure, for example, people know that there’s a particular former player that is allowing you to take a photograph of him and will autograph your football if you’ve got one in your jersey. It allows us to talk about a pre-game traffic coming in if there’s issues on any of the major highways, we can send on a message to tell them there is an accident or a construction at a particular location and give them alternative route to the stadium and same thing on the exit, and to send information to folks as it relates to our building partners and the activation that they’re doing.

The Bumblebee from the Transformers was here for a couple of events a week ago. And to take a picture of that Transformer and show them how big it was and where it was located really turned into a real positive for our building partner which was MetLife who had brought in the Transformer as part of their engagement with the fans, so it’s also setting expectations and informing them of all the wonderful things we have happening at the stadium as well.

Sean: So it is very much a multi team with The Giants and The Jets, you have multiple events. You have concerts there, you had Wrestle Mania, and recently Syracuse is playing in college. What’s the experience like bringing in the college fan base and how’s that been received from their point of view?

Brad: Yes, it’s been great. You know, when you bring in Notre Dame, they got a huge fun base all over the country and, of course, Syracuse being here locally, and all their fan base in the New York market and people come and hear that normally haven’t been to MetLife Stadium. Once again, to be able to engage with someone and make that experience really good, and the other thing too is, with our technologies, only here at the stadium, for example, can you use an app that the team can set up where you can watch the play from different angles with the game’s cams. You are not able to get it if you are not here at the stadium, so if you got that app, the game cam won’t work for you because it’s actually done through our network here at the stadium. So again, it’s getting people off couch, getting them here to the venue and make their experience great so that they want to come back.

Sean: So tell us a little bit more about the ins-cam because I’m seeing more stadiums building those specific apps. Frankly, utility for the fan, they tell you where the parking is and where all the concessions are, and those kinds of things but then a lot of them are doing this geo fencing type technology, so if you are in the stadium you might get replays as you just said there or extra features and also betting in ticketing. So what are you looking to do with your version of that app?

Brad: Yes. So being able to stream the NFL red zone, use the 14K camera like a spider cam that they’ve got on the cables, they’re flying in the stadium to follow the action, gives you some replay angles of cameras that you otherwise wouldn’t get. But the other thing, too, is that it allows us to find out who is coming with the teams into the setup, we can find out who’s coming to the facility whether they’re going through the stadium itself, what sort of things that they’re purchasing, the interest that they have and again allows us to make a quality package of that experience specific to one of those users. And, in fact, the year the Jets have gone, they’re using Fortress which is using an RFID chip card, so if you’re season ticket customer, when you come up to enter into the stadium, it’s a loyalty program as well as your entrance into the facility.

We’re finding a lot of great things that that new system is allowing us to do and again doing what we can to help that guest enjoy themselves and not worry themselves around many of the challenges that they might in getting into the stadium, going to the security process etc. Gets them quicker and then sends out that… gives the teams the ability to send out special discounts or special experiences for them once they get here.

Sean: Yes, I mean that is just the way that is going to go. The mobile tickets and using the RFID technology but then connecting it with the data side of it. So you’re able to click the data, know what your fans doing, knowing where they are going, it’s not a creepy stalker kind a way, you’re trying to build a better fan experience. If you are always knowing that certain fans are going to this certain part of the stadium or always using these facilities, you can better put office or get your staffing levels right at the different parts of the stadium as you start getting these data in.

Brad: Yes, exactly. It’s wonderful that these technologies are there, you have to be careful on how you use them, how you manage them because if you’re pushing too much to the guests they’re going to feel that you’re intruding on their experience, so you have to be very careful with these new tools that you have and not force yourself on the guests as they come to the stadium. So it’s a whole new experience, it’s a great tool to use but it’s got to be used correctly.

Sean: Just another thing on the stadium. You got all the technology, the screens, the ribbon boards, over 2100 monitors around the stadium, the big Daktronics display boards that are either in or out of the stadium. Does that give you the ability to flip the switch and it’s then a Jet screen and then flip the switch and then it’s a Giant blue, and so you can really give that home field feel depending on what stadium it is because it’s now all wired up and it’s just a matter of flicking the switch and the whole branding and the look in the field is different for the two different types of games?

Brad: Yeah, so there are 32 NFL teams in 31 stadiums, so the only NFL stadium with two teams playing in the same stadium, and branding is very important to our teams, so obviously there are certain items that we have to physically make the changes. One, for example, the end zones. You can’t just flick the switch because they’re not LED lights, and there are some flags and banners and pictures and other things, but we have about 2000 items that we have to change from one team to the next for that brand, and approximately 800 of those are done by hand. The rest of it is done electronically. So as you stated the video boards, the ribbon boards, a lot of expenses throughout the whole facility, most of our buildings partners which are the sponsors have their own video boards as well, and collectively it really makes for a great experience.

You think about the fans today and they’re using a lot of these different technologies in their homes and in their businesses. We’ve got to be on the cutting edge with all those types of electronics so that when they come here, they’re familiar with it. And in many cases, that might be one of our 2200 television sets that gets them excited, it might be our large video boards, it might be the ribbon boards that, for example, some of those are set specifically to give all the down score and all the fantasy, numbers while still the football game is taking place in the stadium.

Sean: So, obviously, last year the main focus was getting ready for the Super Bowl, but as you said earlier with phone technology being upgraded all the time and the demands the fans have using those phone keep growing. What are the main challenges that you are facing and looking to improve over the next eight months to use it at MetLife to just, I guess, keep your head above water to certain degree? What are the main things that you are looking to improve with the stadium?

Brad: It’s interesting that you bring that up because we are in process right now of creating a five-year capital expenditure budget to deal with technology, and some of that needs an upgrade. When you purchase certain systems they have a certain shelf life before technology passes it by. So some of that is just keeping up with where you are at now to maintain where you are with the intent to grow. But a lot of that, too, is that growth you have to take care of and you have to pay attention to. So we are putting all those projects together to take to our ownership and see what kind of an appetite they have, more than what they want to spend the money and what they want to do. But one of the things that we are beginning to focus on is traffic. When you bring 27,000 cars in one certain location, it’s getting them the messages to make that ingress and egress much more palatable for them so we have been having discussion with different companies on putting together the signage systems that will be in really time that can give them guidance and directions.

And we’ve had some incidents where an accident or construction on a particular highway close to the stadium may be slowing down the traffic, and right now we use our social media platforms to get the word to everybody but there are some people that may not be on the platforms we’re sending that out on. So having the electronics signage to help direct them where they can reroute to get to the stadium quicker is something that we are beginning to focus on. But then the other side too, the growth of all these different social platforms and figuring out where all of that is going as a challenge for us to know that our guests when they come here are going to have access to all of that, not only with the amount of Wi-Fi connectivity we have but also working with our cellular companies because many people still are using that cellular systems, specially when they get outside of the stadium and get into their vehicles, then it turns into the cellular antennas as opposed to access points from the Wi-Fi, so co-coordinating all those efforts and being outside of the stadium itself is the direction we are looking.

Sean: Well, five years that is a long time in technology if you just even look back at the some of the technology you were rolling out at American Airline Center, where there were no one there to see Dirk Nowitzki, it’s something that is always changing, always look back at Morse’ law or history of computing which says the computing power doubles every two years, we’re seeing that same sign of growth in everything mobile and what fans are doing, so it’s really a challenge to say what it’s going to look like in five years’ time .

Brad: It is, and our plan is that we create this five-year plan and every year we will adjust it and continue to look at the opportunities it will bring and, of course, make sure that we are keeping up with all the needs of the users. One thing we didn’t talk about is there is a lot of technology that is being used by the teams, whether it is communication to the coach, whether it’s the new tablets that are on sidelines, for medical updates and information as they deal with player injuries, whether it’s the stats that they’re looking for. It is not always guests who are coming in, it’s the operation of the stadium and that competitive advantage that the teams are always looking for so that they can give the tools to their players that otherwise they haven’t had in the past.

Sean: Definitely, they’ve got the new the new Surface tablets, with the Microsoft partnership with the NFL, with all the coaches using them and on top of that you have got a lot of the player tracking the devices and data that is pulling in GPS and giving the coaches access to what the player is doing from how much running and force, and those kind of things, so that data requirement of the teams and the on-field talent need is only going to continue to grow as that analytics side of the game continues to grow.

Brad: And we’re seeing the same thing with the media when we designed the American Airline Center, we had a dark room in the media center. Nobody is using films these days, they’re all digital and what they are doing, they are sending the digital signals of all those pictures immediately along with their stories as opposed to go back to their offices and getting everything set up for their reports. As technology continues to grow, all of us in the sports and entertainment industry are going to continue to spend the money to keep up with all the new technologies and everything that really enhances our lives as well as our ability to deliver what the guest is looking for.

Sean: Definitely. Well, it is … MetLife Stadium is on my list of stadiums to attend. I’ve been to a few NFL stadiums and haven’t been lucky enough to go to MetLife so it’s definitely on the list whether I make it there this season or next one, I’ll definitely will make it there and looking forward to catching up with you when I do.

Brad: We would love to have you. It was a great experience meeting you in Dallas and I got a bigger and better toy to play with you in the New York market than I had here in Dallas because it’s… not that it’s any better than the American Airline Center which is one of the lead facilities in the country, but the enormity of this one being the largest market to the business stadium in the world, there is a lot of things for us to brag about and show off to you so we’d love to have you.

Sean: Definitely, as long as you don’t have any forces on ice, give me some of those good New York craft beers or something from New York or New Jersey, I’ll be happy as I told you that night. Where we just send it to everybody else, but we’re more than happy that you are.

Brad: And learn . . .

Sean: Yeah, exactly, but I will be more than happy to oblige and drink it just to be polite but we don’t drink to fasts, we are much more… at least I am anyway.

Brad: I have learned that there is one thing I love to say is that we have an incredible number of Australians that have come here, come to the facility, and in fact, Daktronics is bringing in a group of people for the game on Sunday with the Broncos and the Jets, so great people and we will have Australians come here and they share information with us, we share information with them and it really works out well for all of us.

Sean: Well, terrific and next time you will to come down to Australia and check out some of the stadiums down here. We’ll work out a way to get you down to Australia I can buy you a beer.

Brad: There you go. I would love it.

Sean: Thank very much for coming to the podcast, best of luck for rest of the NFL season, I hope to catch up with you soon.

Brad: Sean that will be fantastic. Thank you so much.

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Sean: Thanks again to Brad Mayne from MetLife Stadium. You can connect with Brad on Twitter @bradmayne, and that’s how pretty much how I connect with Brad initially back in 2010 when trying to make those connections on my first Sports Geek trip. I’ll share a link to that night at American Airlines Center and sort of how that went down in the show notes. Thanks again, Brad.

I did get some feedback during the week, both from the Mark Cuban podcast and also people who have been listening prior to that, and they did note how many times I start off my podcast with, “Very happy to introduce, “and “Very happy to have people on.” Actually did a Google search on “very happy” and “sport geek” and, yes, I pretty much use it every single time. But it does come from truth. I am very happy to have those people on the show and I’m very happy to be able to call them my friends. So whether it becomes a touché, I don’t know. My start off is blogs business, shut up you blokes, and I think I start off every in a few weeks Sports Geeks with very happy to talk to, so. Just talking from the heart in that sense.

Want to talk a little bit about the NRL Grand Finals, lucky enough to go up to the NRL Grand Finals last Sunday where the South Sydney Rabbitohs, clients in 2011 took on the Canberra Bulldogs. So it’s the first I’ve ever been to an NRL Grand Finals, and the whole day was both was pretty much a Sports Geek nightmare but with a happy ending. So to give you a bit of my rundown of my day, I was having a flight on Sunday .It was seven o clock flight, daylight saving just kicked in so effectively I got up at 4:00 am to be able to get to the airport and fly out .

But it wasn’t too fast to get there, just getting up there and getting to the hotel and waiting for the game later on that night but the day turned worst. And what would be the worst thing that could happen to a sports geek heading to a major event and especially one that you want to participate in, my phone died. So my Samsung history, you know now, I’m a big Android guy, really like what it offers from a flexibility and being able to share different platforms, I was getting some weird messages about not having enough space, some storage problems so I deleted some old podcasts that I had listened to or some photos and the like. Thought I had fixed the problem, it’s a bit glitch so I decided that I’ll do the whole heavy turn it off and turn it on problem which is a common IT crowd joke and it’s one that I know from my IT days. So I turned it off and turned it back on and it would not start again. And you don’t how much your mobile phone is like your arm. I felt pretty much hopeless in Sydney.

I know my way around Sydney enough but I didn’t know where the closest Telstra store was. So ironically I did know where the Apple Store was. I walked up to the Apple Store and googled the problem, and also Googled where the nearest Telstra was, and it was actually just next door. I went in and in the end; the main result was to completely wipe the phone, reset it was the only solution. Then I was left with a phone with no apps, no contacts, no phone numbers so I hurriedly went back to the hotel and it really… both the time constraints and the panic really makes you to… install apps the absolute must-install apps. So I thought I’d just take you through to the process I had to go through. I installed some of the photo things, I updated the app, I installed apps like Dropbox to make sure everything was backing up again, then I also installed Google plus, should be Google plus installed for nothing else to automatically back up your photos for a Wi-Fi and the other benefit you get the bonus order awesome photos .

So once I had installed Google and got Dropbox working again to have that double back up which didn’t really make me consider that I want my phone and I didn’t lose anything. Then I connected one password which is a crucial tool, it maintains all my passwords and make sure they are different for every service. If you’re using the same password for multiple services, it only takes ones of those services to get hacked and all of the services can be hacked. So if you’re not using multiple passwords. Then I had to reconnect all the key platforms so Facebook and Twitter and the like. I’ve got two factory authentications on all my platforms. So I was getting verification codes texted through to my phone. Again, annoying with the setup mode when you are trying to get it done but absolutely vital from a security point of view, you don’t want to have someone else getting access to your accounts.

Then I also installed AV8 which is my preferred Android launcher, as it provides contextual apps so if I’m on the road, it provides me travel apps. If I’m at home it provides me with certain apps, it provides me different apps when I’m in the office. So it knows where I am. If you’re using Android and you’re looking for a launcher and you’re not quite sure, you don’t’ like what you get out of the box, I highly recommend getting AV8. So I got most of the things that I needed set up, and was very thankful that they had some useful Wi-Fi that I was able to get a few of the last things connected and other than that, I’ve got everything working again. As far as the NRL Grand Final went, I really enjoyed it, the pregame music and stuff was a little bit lackluster having Slash perform, I think, it was two and a half songs with no bands. It was a little bit strange and a little bit awkward with the Telstra logo sort of plastered everywhere around him.

But other than that I thought that once the music and the entertainment was out of the way, the way both the teams were introduced, I really enjoyed, I posted it on my Facebook page,, was the ringing of the foundation bell. For those that don’t know, foundation bell was first rung at the first rugby league game. Russell Crowe, the Oscar-winning actor and also the co-owner of Rabbitohs Sport, bought the bell for 82,000 and vowed it would return when the Rabbitoh’s were in the Grand Finals. So it’s been a long comeback for the Rabbitoh’s that were thrown out of the league, and then brought back in the league, and then Russell Crowe had been onto court came in as owners and backed the club and to get back.

It’s a terrific comeback story and it may become a movie that might be a little bit farfetched but the foundation bell was rung and then the fans started singing “Glory! Glory!” to South Sydney and it was spine tingling stuff. I was able to get out a few tweets during the game. Normally when a game is packed with fans and the stadium is packed with fans, and as I sort of said, there with Brad, the stadiums are looking to upgrade the Wi-Fi that even at some point, if you don’t have the infrastructure, you can’t get access. One of the tips that I always do is if I can’t get access to the Wi-Fi normally, the 4G would be packed, that’s where everyone is trying to get access to, try to dial down that band you’re on so you drop down to 3G or even better drop down to the Edge. It’s a tip I’m only going to share with you as podcast listeners, I don’t want everyone to know this, because if you’re on the Edge, no one else is on the Edge, you’ll be able to get off a tweet out every now and again. So I was able to get out a few posts during the game and also a congratulations post at the end of the game, thankfully, because I was using the Edge to wrap up this podcast and let you get back to your day.

As I said earlier in the podcast, send me a tweet and let me know that you’re listening to the podcast. I’m more than happy to follow back and chat with people who are listening @seancallanan is my Twitter handle, and also Sports Geek on Twitter. And if you are on Cyber Dust, and you want to chat about all things sports digital or you want a bit more insight what I do, Sean Callanan on Cyber Dust. Send me a massage, I have been playing around with blasts feature in sending the pictures out and sending links out, and seeing how its used. I’m using with a few friend of mine and getting a bit of use out of it.

That’s it for this episode of Sports Geek Podcast. Stay tuned after the credits, sounds to the game is Greg Inglis, Rabbitoh’s superstar scoring the last try of the game in the last 30 seconds and just listen, you can actually hear the joy in the cheering of the Rabbitoh’s fans. Until next week, my name is Sean Callanan from If I can help your team, your league or your stadium with anything in this sports digital space, need help with strategy and development and fan engagement issues, please drop me an email – Thanks for listening.

DJ Joe: Check out which teams work with Sports Geek at Find all Sports Geek Podcasts at Send in your sounds of the game. Email Sean at Thanks for listening to this Sports Geek Podcast.

SGP 062: Mark Cuban on sports business, technology, Dallas Mavericks & Shark Tank

5 years ago I started Sports Geek and one of the guys I looked up to was Mark Cuban, I’ve alway ssaid he is a Sports Geek like me just with a bigger bank balance.  It was great to finally catch up and chat to Mark about his new apps Cyber Dust and Xpire, the changing NBA landscape, Shark Tank and his beloved Dallas Mavericks.

If you’ve been listening to my podcast from the beginning or have just found it, please enjoy this chat with Mark Cuban.

Learn from Mark Cuban

  • Why Mark built Cyber Dust
  • Why athletes are loving Cyber Dust
  • Importance of understanding your digital footprint
  • How you can use Xpire to clean up your bad social media posts
  • Why you might think your posts are OK but other might not
  • How the NBA owner landscape has changed in 12 years
  • What impact China will have on next NBA digital deal
  • Why the next big sports battle will happen off the court
  • Mark’s advice if you want to work in sports
  • Why Mark invests in Shark Tank pitches
  • How much work goes into Shark Tank when the cameras are turned off
  • How the Mavs crowd sourced their alternate jersey design
  • How will the Mavericks go in the 2014-15 season
Mark Cuban from Shark Tank on Sports Geek Podcast

Listen to Mark Cuban chat with Sean Callanan

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Sean Callanan is founder of Sports Geek, helping sports teams around the world connect with fans

I get asked all the time for people to pick my brain over a coffee or a phone call.  My brain is my business, but I am a giving guy.  If you are a subscriber to Sports Geek News (below) and are happy to be included on a future podcast I am happy to chat to you about how you can engage sports fans for your team or brand.

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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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Podcast Transcription

Sean: Welcome to Episode 61 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On this week’s podcast, I catch up with Zain Pasha from Sporting Innovations and Sporting KC and Arthur Gillion from the Melbourne Victory. We talk football, fan engagement, marketing, membership and much more.

D.J. Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast: the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now, here’s your host – who has skydived and bungee jumped – Sean Callanan.

Sean: Thanks, D.J. Joel. My name is Sean Callanan from Sports Geek. You can find more at Thank you for listening. If you’re a return listener, very much welcome. People coming back and listening again. If you’re a first-time listener, thank you very much. Please. Send me a tweet while you’re listening or if you’ve got a comment on any of the interviews on today’s episode. Simply tweet me @seancallanan or send it to @sportster. I’ll be following and watching both, and I really appreciate the feedback that I’m getting from around the world from people listening. You can listen to the Sports Geek podcast and share it on the platform that you listen to. Most of you are listening to iTunes.

Simply go to to send a friend there or even leave a review of what you think of the podcast so far. Also available on SoundCloud. Getting a growing audience on SoundCloud. There are a lot of people on Android. It seems to be a growing platform. I’m also available on Stitcher, and we have just recently started uploaded all episodes up on to Audioboom. Audioboom is recently rebranded from Audioboo and looks like it might help solve that audio discovery platform. A lot of sports are getting involved using Audioboom as a platform, so available in all those platforms.

This week’s show, I catch up with Zain Pasha from Sporting Innovations to talk about what they do with Sporting KC. Lucky enough to check out their facilities at SEAT last year, then also continuing the football flavor, I catch up with Arthur Gillion from the Melbourne Victory to talk marketing and membership and what they’re looking to do in Season 10. Recording this on Friday the 26th of September, and in just a few hours’ time, the South Sydney Rabbitohs will go up against the Sydney Roosters in the NRL Preliminary Final as they go about deciding this weekend who will play in the Grand Final, so best wishes to everyone at the Rabbitohs. I know they’ve had a busy week with the week off – planning for everything for the prelim and hopefully putting in place some plans to make the Grand Final.

Hopefully, they can do it, and it would make it three out of four – the last three of the four NRL Grand Finals that have had a sports gig representative. So, go Rabbitohs! And keep an eye on Russell Crowe’s tweets over the weekend. I have no doubt that he will be excited. I will put in the show notes – one of the funniest gifts that I saw in their first finals win when Russell Crowe was excited with Rabbitohs scoring a try – and his young son pretty much told him to “Get out of my face” on National TV. As a father, I’ve been in that place before Russell, so I sympathize with you but I hope that your son is very happy that the Rabbitohs make the Grand Final this weekend.

Also this weekend, it is grand final eve here in Melbourne with the AFL Grand Final kicking off at the MCG with Hawthorn taking on Sydney. It should be a cracking game. Follow along with the hashtag #AFLGF. For my tip, I think the swans will actually get up. I think Buddy Franklin will actually play quite well and we’ll get the win. We’ll be interested to see how both teams both perform online and how they perform after the game because that’s when the fans are looking for content. But first, here is my check with Zain Pasha from Sporting Innovations on all things technology and Sporting KC.

Sean: Very happy to welcome a fellow seat steering committee member Zain Pasha from Sporting Innovations. Welcome to the Podcast, Zain.

Zain Pasha: Thanks Sean, it’s great to be here!

Sean: So, first of all, for the people who don’t know – and if they don’t know about Sporting Innovations, they’re not doing things right – but can you tell us a little bit about Sporting Innovations as a company?

Zain Pasha: Absolutely. Sporting Innovations actually started back in 2011. It’s based off the experiences that we had launching Sporting Kansas City’s new venue, Sporting Park, and we found that people really bought on to the idea that fan experiences can be really awesome, with some technology where you could use technology to really bring a richer experience than what people were normally used to. Then we also, in addition, saw some issues that sports teams face, and we were facing them ourselves at Sporting Kansas City with CRM and things like that.

We thought that having that experience – why don’t we do that for the rest of the world and so that’s how our sporting division started and then we focused on solving a couple of key problems for fans and teams. One is we had a great footballing fan experience – whether that’s through content we played or communication, offers, etc. We also focused on bringing all of the different sources of data that teams have into a single platform where teams can use it a little easier, faster than they can today. And then we also try to kind of help teams to raise some generous revenue out of that investment they make. So that’s our business and we’re based in Kansas City, about 100 people strong. They do some great work with some great teams across the world, actually. It’s very exciting what we’re doing right now.

Sean: Yeah, I was lucky enough to go to Sporting Park when the seat was in Kansas City, even though I was hopping along with the moon boot on, with the Achilles, but the whole idea of the app that you were – I think it wasn’t far after launch in 2013 – where the app was, I think – because you’ve got the whole pipeline in that you’re running the stadium, you’ve got the TV guys there and they’re really well integrated with the digital. I remember standing there next to Chris Dill [SP]. There was a short on goal and then 30 seconds later, we were effectively opening up the app and then watching the replay, so it’s that kind of adding to the experience that you’re always looking for.

Zain Pasha: Yeah, I’ll tell you Sean, I was actually at the – we were at the All-Star Game here when Roma came to Kansas City and there were some questionable foul calls and some questionable off-sides calls that were made, and I found myself – and having been used to that quite a bit, my natural instinct was to bring the app and say, “Hey, what the heck was that? Was that actually…?” I could see people around me doing that. The next is one of those components of it but it’s a very compelling one, right? You get a degree of control over your fan experience that hasn’t been there before, which is very interesting to a lot of people.

Sean: And the thing is, I mean, I’m sure you would across the uproar of the fans at PSV-Eindhoven where they rallied against Wi-Fi and said, “We don’t want that. It’s affecting the experience.” But as someone who has been to a Sporting KC game, you still have the active supporters and the fans going off, so the technology isn’t undermining that experience at all, is it?

Zain Pasha: Yeah, I know. Honestly, it’s an interesting point that you bring up there. There is a belief that the experience is detracted by technology. We sympathize with that at Sports because our number one thing at Sporting Kansas City and primarily even thinking you don’t want to distract from what’s going on on the field. That’s certainly the main product at a sports event. At the same time, there are some interesting trends right now in industry in general. It’s not just about sports, but people expect to be connected everywhere. I don’t think I walk around nowadays with the expectation that I won’t have some form of connect whether it’s LG, LTE, 4G or something else, so that’s a key part of that, right? People don’t want to just leave behind everything and know it’s at a sports event, and that sometimes deters people from coming. The second thing is, we found it actually helps make the event a little bit more interesting when you can give that to people, so it’s actually supporting what’s actually going on on the field.

We make a conscious effort, and our teams make a conscious effort to make sure that we’re not distracting the fans from what’s going on on the field. The third piece is that it also allows teams to access a different, a new broader fan base. Maybe the fan isn’t as much of a super fan and it’s just the general population who wants to be running things in addition to coming to the fourth line. Every technology we’ve found at least has really helped advance that fan experience and we really seen the detraction. We get a lot of praise for it. By virtue of the SEAT Conference and hearing what people about – it used to be that people questioned the business case for Wi-Fi, but now it seems like it’s an expectation of how life’s like and you see that when the NFL moves to get the Wi-Fi installed. Certainly Sporting Kansas City set the groundwork there as well and the Dallas Cowboys. And now I think you’re seeing it all over the world too, which is very compelling, very interesting.

Sean: And it is interesting. We did talk about it at SEAT with the guys at the NFL in how the fans are using the Wi-Fi, and sometimes it’s not exactly, “Hey you, think that they might use it?” They still want to be connecting with their friends outside the stadium and telling them about the experience and bragging about it. They also might wanting to be checking in on scores of other games, of other sports, because like you said, they might not be that super fan that’s all in for your sport, but they expect 24/7 connectivity to everything they do and they don’t want to have that pause when they go to a live event. The super fan – they can put their phone – I consider myself like that when I go to a game – I still put the phone in my pocket even though I’m a Sports Geek because I’ll want to consume the game, but having that utility of being able to pull the phone out of the pocket and watch the game, or watch the highlight, and being able to get that service is, yeah, it’s becoming the expectation.

Zain Pasha: Absolutely.

Sean: I guess the other thing there is, I guess, the ability – and iBeacon was a big, big buzz thing at SEAT – there was a lot of chatter about it. It’s finding that sweet spot of how often you interact with that fan, and not interrupt, and not become pocket spam, so to speak. What are you guys seeing in that space of trying to get that balance right of pushing that marketing message and pushing that offer and telling the fans something, the fact that there’s a different notification – one end of your stadium to the other end of your stadium. How has that balance been the couple of years as you’ve been testing it?

Zain Pasha: Okay, that’s very interesting actually, and you know, the conundrum on this fundamentally – the question you asked is how do I make sure we’re not kind of spamming – and that’s good for hitting on, the connotation of getting too much out there that’s not really relevant. But what I like to talk about when I talk about that is that I think we’re asking the wrong question. It’s not about how do we avoid spamming the fan, it’s how do we make sure that every message we send to the fan is something that they’re interested in, right? If they’re interested, then by definition, it’s not spam. That’s what we’ve been focusing on here, is how do we make it so that that content – and I say content broadly – not just videos and photos, but just messages and offers that are being sent out as well – it’s tailored.

It’s targeted. We found that teams have been using a lot more targeted communication and using some of the capabilities in the platform, segmenting based on engagement, class engagement, segmenting based on brand propensities, things like that so that we can at least get a better idea of who should get one piece of content and allowing that to happen. We still can simply get an easier way as in the traditional marketing method. That’s been awesome.

The second piece to that is what you said. I think – you talked about the Beacon stuff – and I’m very interested in the BLE technology stuff. It was a big topic. It was a big topic at SEAT last year, and it’s also been a big topic in the press. We knew that. We certainly recognize it’s there but we view BLE very much as another example that will help us target the fan a little bit better. I’ll give you a very concrete example of what I mean by that. Some BLE use cases you see today that have gotten the media attention – I walk past the Beacon and it gives me a message, and every device that has the app gets the same message. It doesn’t really matter who you are just walking through. The use case that we’re envisioning, that we’ve worked on is I know Sean is premium ticketholder and he is a very loyal attendee. He got an attendance score of 8 or 9. He comes a lot to the games.

He walks back through BLE and he gets a different piece of content than when Zain walks past as a first-time ticket buyer who has got a very small history with our team right now. So it’s that use case, but what we’re hoping with that is, and what we’ve seen so far with all of our testing, is that actually in preceding nature [SP]. My friends don’t view it like spam. They view it like, “Wow. They actually know something about me.” I have an example from a client of ours who was at Sporting Park here where we were showing him around and stuff – he had an All Active pass on his device and I showed him my device, and it was the same app, and I didn’t get it. It’s because we knew he’s a tier and we knew he was an important person and so he got a different experience than me.

I think that if we can use some of the micro-location technology in conjunction with some of the knowledge we have about you as a fan, right? That’s where we see a lot of the BLE technology coming into play and micro targeting. Finding out who attended the game, right? It’s not just a matter of ticket scans anymore. It’s not a – “Hey, who actually walked past with you [SP]?” We can do that now.

Sean: Yeah, yeah and it’s vital to know how your fans are interacting with your stadium and that’s with digital offers?

Zain Pasha: Yes.

Sean: I was lucky enough to see Robb Heineman, the CEO of Sporting Innovations talk at SEAT way back at 2011, and talk about how Sporting Park was put together and how you implemented a whole bunch of scripts across the whole stadium, as far as from the parking attendant through to the cocktail bars and how – I think it was – a lot of the staff were trained by the same people who do customer service at Disneyland and sort of have that experience. How much stuff from a sporting events – we all love our tech, you know, you’re a Sports Geek like myself – but how much is that customer service and getting the people right a really big part of what you were talking about before, you know, compelling fan experiences at Sporting Park?

Zain Pasha: I think it’s an important of it, the customer experience piece. I think that we do a nice job of that at Sporting Park, and I think that that’s also an aspect of it, but certainly also on the visual side of it, you have to have a digital strategy that also support that because technology needs to be unleashed. It’s very simple things like digital comment cards that make sure we track who comes in and gives a comment, and we try to respond quickly. We run things like contests right. The last game.

You’re getting a small trading card thing, we can download it off of Euphoria, and we usually download it and call one of the fans up at random and pick them out of the download, and we said, “Hey, can you come down on the field and take a picture in baseball? So that was a cool customer experience that the technology enabled there. So that’s very important as well. How do you use the technology to underpin your already important principles around how you care about your fans and how you treat the fans? Stuff like that.

Sean: A couple of questions that I do have for you because you’re so embedded in the mobile space and again, it was discussed at SEAT, the range of devices we had. Apple, with its big event the last week, announcing the 6 and the 6 Plus and the watch. How do you think that changes the mobile space from an Android/Apple point of view? Did you have any take on what they presented last week?

Zain Pasha: Yeah, absolutely. My personal opinion on the Apple Watch is that I worry about it a little bit because it digresses a bit from what Apple has traditionally been about. I think from a wearable state, I think that there’s a lot of opportunity in wearables. I don’t think anybody’s yet figured out what the answer of wearable is or if it’s a single wearable or if it’s more of a unified device strategy where sometimes you have a watch and other times you use a necklace and sometimes you use your glasses, right? I don’t if anyone’s figured that out yet. On the watch in particular, my personal opinion is that the screen will see an opportunity to communicate with a fan, but I worry about adoption because a watch traditionally for a lot of folks, for men, women, has been an accessory and it’s been a piece of jewelry or a status symbol.

You’ve got your Omegas, your Rolexes, right? You convince a bunch of people who’ve done that to a place where a watch that’s expected to be on your wrist all the time because it’s supposed to be one of your means of communications, so I don’t think Apple has solved that problem yet.

In effect, while they’re producing a product what I think is for the tech audience, the nerd audience that just wants a really cool gadget to play with, I worry how long that will be compelling for that audience and two, how it’s going to take on the broader watch market, right? I don’t think they’ve done it enough yet to replace my $10,000 Rolex that I want to wear, right? That’s the challenge that I worry about. I also worry about the size of that market because I know they struggle with it through the iPhone, you need the phone – that is, you kind of create a feeling for yourself there. I think the concept is interesting. I think that some of the cool feature functionalities are awesome.

I think that they come up with the novel ways to navigate it. I honestly just worry from a user’s perspective if it’s going to be adopted. But I think there is a play for wearables in general, though, and I think that in sports in particular, I think that wearables have already shown that they can be used. I believe that the Kings were using Google Glass to do some coaching. They coaches to people who look at the game and things like that. I think it’s very specialized use cases there, and I think that once somebody figures out how a wearable strategy works, I think it will be very interesting to see. The mobile device no longer becomes just about a phone. It has a bunch of different devices.

Sean: Yeah. I guess the other question should be – what phone do you have right now?

Zain Pasha: I actually have both an iPhone and an Android phone. I have an HTC One M8 and an iPhone 5.

Sean: Oh, you have got a foot in both camps. I tend to agree. I think one of the things that was really vital about it is that Apple made wearables go a bit more mainstream, make that conversation happen. It really is only Version 1, and we all know – from a tech industry – what Version 1-type products are. But if it grows the audience or grows the appetite or see if the appetite is there, that’s the key thing for me. It will probably come down to – whether it comes down to a VHS-Beta type of discussion and is there going to be one winner? But with all the mobile platforms fragmenting, it probably will be that open source connect with everybody, part fit monitor. The players, at the moment, they’re all shadow boxing. We’ve seen Nike pull out and so we’re not doing FuelBand anymore, everyone else is doing it. So at the moment, everyone’s just shaking everyone up to find out where it is. I agree. There will be the fan boys that will have the watch, but really, you’re looking at a segment of a segment of the people that are doing it. It’s not a wide thing.

Zain Pasha: Absolutely.

Sean: But the fact that it will make wearables cooler, it will make it go more mainstream, and I think that’s where the thing is. I think one of big things from the Apple thing is the fact that they’ve at least got into NFC and said that, you know, the whole Apple pay and the fact that the mobile wallet – I think that that’s a far bigger play than what they’re doing. I’ve been set up. There are some really cool capabilities there for both app developers and things like that to start doing that kind of stuff.

Zain Pasha: Yep, and some ideas on the Apple Pay piece was very interesting to me. I think Apple has taken an old concept of NFC payments and put their Apple flavor on it, it’s a clean, easier experience on top of it that makes it really nice. I agree with you. That seamlessness. There’s always a fun of it. I read some of the tweets coming out. It’s like, “Really? It’s that difficult to take my wallet out when I’m in my car?” Or something like that. I think sometimes it is. I find myself in my car when I’m at Starbucks, it’s much easier to just take my phone out and pay with that than it is to take my wallet out of my pocket and pay with a credit card. I actually like that touch-based stuff. It’s really cool.

Sean: Yeah. Again, the pay ware technology people are using currently with their cards. If you’re at Sporting Park and you’re carrying four beers back to your seats and you have to swipe your phone or swipe your watch, that’s where it makes the fan experience far better, and that’s where the technology sort of fits in. So, I guess, sort of looking forward and seeing all these new technologies kick in – for you guys, you would be playing in that space to try to figure out if that market – whether it be wearables – as this new technology like Beacon starts to come – how much time do you guys spend playing on that bleeding edge, testing it out, seeing where it goes – to be able to innovate? That is the company.

Zain Pasha: That’s actually a very great question. I work very closely with our co-CEOs, my dad and Robb, around some of the new stuff that we’re working on. We’re always meeting about the next innovative thing that we try to do because our biggest fear – and I’ll say this for both of them – their biggest fear is that we don’t ever want to stagnate, right? We built an awesome, awesome experience at Sporting Park and helping some of our other partners do the same and use them with their respective teams. So, we’ve looked at a lot of wearables. I’ve got a glass sitting at home that we blare on with our gut, wasn’t too happy with it, actually.

Then we’re getting some of these other devices when they’re available, so we’re always pushing the envelope and I’ve already started looking at Apple Pay and we’ve worked with a paying provider [SP] already that has already done some integration with Apple Pay, which is kind of nice. So we’re always pushing the envelope, because I’ll tell you right now, for Sporting Innovations we never want to be behind the times. We always want to help our clients and our teams and our partners to push that envelope. So, we’re looking at a lot of that stuff.

Sean: And looking forward to potentially seeing you come down to Australia with Sporting Innovations working with Allianz and SCG, and hoping to activate those stadiums now. They’ve got Wi-Fi rolled in last year. You’ve been aware of all that stuff with things there?

Zain Pasha: Yeah, oh absolutely. Those guys are great. That’s one of the things that’s very interesting about Australia. The Australian market is so hungry and so excited for investing and innovating on the fan experience. It’s really exciting to see. At SCG and Allianz, they’ve made a big investment already in the Wi-Fi piece and they’re already coming up with awesome ways to monetize it. I can’t talk about all those specifically right now, but I know that – I’ve heard about the way they’re doing it and yes, we’re going out live with SCG and Allianz, and fans will be able to do a lot of cool things on the application. A lot of the same experiences that you see here at Sporting Park, you’ll see coming out in Australia. SCG certainly is the first one down there. So, yeah, that’s very exciting and the team over there is just great.

Sean: I can tell you from last year, last summer’s experience of just opening up that new stand, even though it was only still getting completed as the test match was happening, but the fact that the Wi-Fi was available, that just alleviated the stress of the whole stadium and the amount of content – because I was helping and the Karen and the team there from a social and coverage point of view – the amount of content that came out for the pink test, Cricket, and then when the major league baseball was here with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks – it was just phenomenal because the fans had it. And it was like, “We’ve never had this before,” and they could not help themselves. So it raised more work and more issues, but all good in the fact that you had more fans to respond to and more fans to connect with, but just the amount of content that was going out of the stadium at both of those really big events in the field there, the football and rugby that’s happening this year, has just been phenomenal.

Zain Pasha: Yep, absolutely. Honestly, I’m really looking forward to how Australia progresses with SCG and Allianz as kind of an example there. I’m very excited. I think you’re going to see a lot of awesome things coming out of there, a lot of awesome things coming out of there.

Sean: Well, thank you very much for taking your time to have a chat, and when you are coming down to Sydney, to Australia to check it out, please give me a call. I’d love to catch up.

Zain Pasha: Absolutely, Sean. Thank you so much for having me. It was a great conversation!

D.J. Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek news at

Sean: Thanks again to Zain Pasha from Sporting Innovations. If you’re not following what Sporting Innovations are doing in the space, in the mobile space and what they are doing Utopia App. As I’ve said, I had a play with it when I was in Kansas City for SEAT. Absolutely phenomenal what it can do in the stadium. You can click with all the guests and tweet the guests and tell them you’ve been listening and following the podcast and it just helps get the message out there. And how about that? I had that conversation with Zain a few weeks ago and I would say that Apple haven’t had the best of weeks in the last couple of weeks, obviously with the iPhone Plus.

Reports that it is bending with “BendGate” training online and then, on top of that, they released the patch for 8.01 and it is full of bugs, so – I had a bit of smoke in my face as an Android man, quite happy with my Samsung phone. What are your thoughts if you are an iPhone fan boy? Are you still happy? Does your phone bend? Please let me know at @seancallanan on Twitter. Next, I want to have a chat with Arthur Gillion from Melbourne Victory heading into Season 10, all about marketing and membership and what they’re trying to do at Victory.

Sean: Here we are at Sports Geek HQ. A very heavy welcome. Arthur Gillion from the Melbourne Victory. Marketing manager from the Melbourne Victory. Welcome to Sports Geek HQ, the Sports Geek Man Cave as I like to call it. First time here, welcome.

Arthur Gillion: Thank you very much for having me.

Sean: So I’ve brought you in, the Victory going in for Season 10 much like the A-League, being one of the foundation clubs. Do you want to tell people what your role is at the Victory?

Arthur Gillion: Yep. So, I’m marketing manager at the club. I’ll be going into my 4th season, and so my role is, in a nutshell, looking after fan engagement, match day attendances, membership strategy, and in particular acquisition as well as the overall brand of the club.

Sean: So to give the people who are not in Australia, people in the U.S. and the U.K., so the A-League – and I’ve spoken with the A-League before – we’ve had guys like Brian Gibson – you see the A-League. He’s the MLS for those in the U.S. It’s a local football league. And do you want to give us an idea of some of the numbers that you’re dealing with from a Victory point of view?

Arthur Gillion: Yep, so in terms of match day attendance, our average last year was around 22,000 a game. The membership that we had last year was just over 22,000, so I’m looking always to increase that into that 23,000 – 24,000 mark from a membership perspective. But they are big numbers in terms of Australian football. The A-League has come along in the last ten years. It’s been incredible to watch it in the last four years since I’ve been involved. You’ve seen the standard and know the way that the clubs are dealing with their fan engagement membership attendances. It’s all been really, really positive.

Sean: Yeah, and very much so, like again – to compare apples to oranges to, say, comparing Victory inside the A-League, because you are a B Club. To have 22,000 – that’s a big number in NRL land, that rivals teams like the Rabbitohs that have that same membership focus, and it’s getting at punching with the AFL teams in that space. So, that’s to give you an idea of the size – for the listeners at home – of where the Victory sit from an A-League point of view, but you are, fighting for that same fan as the AFL teams. How do you position the Victory in that space being it’s an AFL town, the A-League is a summer sport, so you’re up against things like Cricket and the new form Big Bash, those kind of things. Where does Victory see themselves in the space of the Melbourne sporting landscape?

Arthur Gillion: I think the seasonal really does help us, in being a summer sport. Previously, it was in direct competition with AFL, and so having that niche of summer and the timings around it – yeah, there’s competition, but I think football in this country in general is growing. After the World Cup, success of soccer, and as you can see from the attendance is – so far over the last ten years – football is massive. In particular, in participation. The petition rates of soccer in this country for both genders. It gives a real strength to our sport and how much there still is to grow. We’re only touching the surface. A-League in the next ten years – I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be.

Sean: Yeah, and you’ve got that whole other element of kids who are playing FIFA. That’s their introduction to football, that they’re playing, and football as an overall – things like the World Cup have made it far more accessible. Things like that pay TV within the digital platforms are making it far more accessible. But if you want to consume football in a live sense, you’ve got to come to an A-League game.

Arthur Gillion: Yeah, absolutely.

Sean: So, you’re working in the two stadiums in – in working that – so you’ve got Etihad Stadium and AAMI Park. So how do you work that in trying to fit – 22,000 members? AAMI Park is almost full to the brim and you have the big games. How does that balance work for you guys?

Arthur Gillion: In terms of AA games, you’ve got the opportunity and when you have blockbusters such the darbies where Victory take on Melbourne City (formerly Heart), you have a good season opener, and to be able to get as many people as possible outside of membership as well to those games to experience what Melbourne Victory is all about, then you’ve got to put a significant effort in. AAMI Park is a phenomenal stadium, and yes, there’s a capacity. We work with our members in terms of the seat buyback schemes and ways in which we can try and maximize the attendance at each of those games at any park. But equal amount of effort goes into filling both settings. You want to try to get as many different people to your games as well as keeping many of your members coming back to as many games as possible. So, yeah, it’s an equal task across both stadiums.

Sean: As I was saying to Arthur before this, I’ve taped a whole bunch of podcast interviews in a row, so if I start referring to other interviews out of order, I apologize. It will all make sense when I put them all together, but I did speak to Katie Morgan from the Texas Rangers and in our discussion a phrase came up that came there from SEAT. “It’s all about putting the cheeks in the seats.” I love that phrase. It is pretty much what your job is, and Katie talked about the CRM side of it and that’s something that is a real big focus. How much has that developed over the four seasons, getting that profile of what Victory fans want?

Arthur Gillion: It’s been the biggest development, I think, of what I’ve seen in my time there and it’s integral to understanding your audience and having a CRM system that can help you understand their engagements with your brand. The types of games they’ve been going to. How they engage with your club, whether it’s on your social channels. Whether it’s with merchandise they’re interested in. Understanding them and creating a communication that fits their needs and that fits with what they’re interested in is paramount to your success.

Sean: So, a lot of your job is in that iterative cycle of rinse, test, repeat. Type the thing to say. We’re going to try this out with this segment, see how it works, and push to a larger segment? It’s a lot of what you’re doing in that space?

Arthur Gillion: Definitely, and when it comes to the biggest task of getting people to games. Once you experience a Melbourne Victory game, there’s nothing like it. The atmosphere is incredible. The spectacle. I think the profile of football now has a great standard. The hard part is getting them in. Once you’ve got them in, then it’s up to the marketers out there to make sure that you continue your engagement with them. It’s not a one-stop-shop, you know? You’ve got to have a plan in place to introduce engagement platforms to continue their journey with Melbourne Victory, and that’s where data comes in heavily because you’re able to track, you’re able to understand the ways that they engage with Melbourne Victory. And as I’ve said, communication plans in place to continue that.

Sean: So how do you balance that in that acquisition focus of getting that new fan in the stadium to go, “We’re really happy with their product. We’re really happy with what happens at on match day.” The experience sells itself, but we’ve got to get them in?

Arthur Gillion: Yes.

Sean: So, that attraction of people, you know, you’ve got 22,000, 23,000 members that you’ve got to continue to market to and keep happy, and keep turning up. Is there a balance of how much you spend on each of those?

Arthur Gillion: And they’re both vitally important. No one of those groups, you’d think, was any more important than the other. They’re both paramount to the success of the club, and we spend a lot of time in communications with our members about game day. We’ve got subcommittees that are set up to make sure we’re understanding the voice of our members. There are ways in which you – for example, coming into our 10th anniversary this season, this is kind of – it goes into what you’re saying – we’ve got almost a split campaign. Yep, you’ve got members that have been with the club since Day One. We’ve got almost 2,200 inaugural members, that is massive.

Sean: How many, sorry?

Arthur Gillion: Over 2,000. They’ve been with the club since Day One. And they’re going into their tenth year.

Sean: That’s the thing. You’re always telling me about that lifetime value of a fan. You’ve had these people for ten years and you know their number.

Arthur Gillion: Yeah. There are ways in which we’ve been – from a marketing perspective and an engagement perspective – the members that we’ve had so far along our journey, we really want to highlight some of the magical moments that they’ve had. You know, it’s been really important for us to highlight what they’ve experienced and reinforce those experiences that they’ve had because football is an emotional game. No doubt about it. The members will be able to tell you – pinpoint – I was there when this happened. I was there when this happened.

And from the brand this year that we’ve done from the membership perspective, it’s been “Boil loud and ten years proud.” You know, we are very proud of what we’ve accomplished as a club and from a comms perspective and a marketing perspective, we’ve been highlighting a lot of the past. We’ve sent out a custom-made pack of cards with 54 magical moments to all of our new members. Throughout the brochure, it was always that we included a timeline to show them how far we’ve come. Yep. So there’s ways in which we’ve been reinforcing that message of membership and what it means to be part of our club, but at the same time you’ve got a new audience of people that may not have had any of those experiences.

You’ve got to make sure that you can engage with new people and – I guess it’s selling that experience of what they can be part of. You know, using heroes as well. Like, Besart Berisha, he’s a brand new Victory player. He’s starting his journey. So, it’s tapping into your talent who is a starting a journey with you, and asking them to be the figurehead and saying, “Come along for the journey with me. Let’s make the next ten years the best ten years.”

Sean: That does feed in really well with the whole strategy of what the A-League is doing around trying to highlight those moments and those experiences, so what I’m doing with the guys at A-League and guys like Brian and the like is waving at him, because for me, it’s the clubs that drive that whole theme because it’s the club’s fans that have those memories and have them with the club, not necessarily have them with the League, and I think that’s what the success will hinge on if the clubs roll with that, the fans will adopt, and it will sort of grow from there.

What I was going to talk a little bit about – and we can almost put a counter on the number of times you’ve said “members” so far, and that’s not a slight or anything but I think it’s something that, you know, when I’m at SEAT talking about how membership works, it’s a way of life here, especially in Melbourne. We’re seeing now, I think, the Kansas City Chiefs have changed their season ticketholder package to call them members, and I think it’s a vital pass because it makes it an emotional investment – I think stealing a quote from Shane Hamm and you know maybe it becomes an emotional thing or a financial thing because you are part of a club and not looking at the dollar figure and the number of seats and dividing it by 11 or whatever.

How much do you think the Victory has been helped by the fact that there is this membership culture, and it’s sort of the expected thing in Melbourne?

Arthur Gillion: Yeah, without a doubt. It’s been a big part of our club. Our members have been the most important and you look at the way that we’ve engaged them, and we recognize that. In our campaigns this year, we looked at members that joined our team in our pre-seasons. We had little skits with Archie, when they were in the ice bath.

Yeah. There are little skits with Bez when they were in the gym. There are little skits with Leigh Broxham when he was putting on strapping tape, and it’s the whole slogan – he’s been part of the team since 2005. They encompass everything that we do, and you see it out there at games – the players – they look to the fans. They look to the members in the crowd. They are the twelfth man. They are what keep them going. They are an integral part of the club and I think that’s a really powerful tool that Australia has, and England as well, right? When you’re a member of a club, it’s a life choice.

Sean: Yeah. Yep.

Arthur Gillion: It’s part of who you are and if you were to describe yourself, I think, you’d say, “Whatever, Arthur. I’m a member. I’m a Victory member. It’s extremely powerful.”

Sean: And I think that’s one of the things that came out with some of the discussions at SEAT when we had guys like Rich Clarke bring in the U.K. perspective from his work at Arsenal. I’m getting my own assessment of where the three fit if you’re looking at the U.K. European market, the U.S. market and Australia. I feel that Australia is in that same U.K. tribal nature – it’s really part of our identity that I’m a “Victory Man” or I’m a “Collingwood Man” or I’m an “Arsenal Man,” because that’s what you identify yourself with. Now, that’s not to say that I’m not a Packers guy or a Pistons man, but it seems that – it’s just the language that used around it that makes that theme, that locks them in. I think that’s where a few of the U.S. teams are now changing their language in everything they’re doing. From a marketing point of view to say, “Come in and you’re a member of the club,” rather than these transactional so you can take all of the stuff.

Arthur Gillion: Yeah. Definitely.

Sean: So, from a CRM point of view, what are some of the tools that you’re using day-to-day that sort of make things work for you?

Arthur Gillion: I have an analyst that works within the business that is able to really mine the data that’s coming in, as well as what’s existing. We’ll go through and work out levels of engagement so we can then put a really targeted and specific idiom out to those people. If they’ve been to a particular amount of games, then we know we can highlight those games. We’ve got to start communicating with them with heightened experiences that they’ve had. So idioms have been really powerful. From a data perspective, it helps every part of the marketing mix when you look at direct mail campaigns, when you’re looking at now with data and having an understanding of it, you know what are your hottest leads. You don’t just do a blanket approach – if you can target that and understand it a bit more. Same with Facebook. Now with some of the Custom Audiences Campaigns that you can do, you can talk to people in a specific way. Not a blanket approach.

Sean: Yeah, you can do an ad to people that have checked out Archie Thompson’s profile and serve them up an Archie Thompson ad because you know that’s the page they’re going to. Those kinds of things are really – or, on a membership form, you say, “What is your favorite player?” And you’re serving specific ads with that specific player because that’s that one person’s best baller.

Arthur Gillion: And in print as well, when you look at some of the print items that we’ve done. It’s all about being as segmented and targeted and specific as you can to that person. You understand the relationship they’ve had with your brand, as I said. I keep saying, “You need to enhance it.” There’s no point in sending out a blank document that won’t resonate with that particular individual whatever stage they’re in. Whether they’re a member, whether they’re a fan reading it for the first time when they’ve never been to a game. We’ve got to make sure that we can engage in the right way.

Sean: So, that’s from a data point of view, and slicing and dicing, and idiom. You know, every time I talk to someone – you know, it’s great talking about Facebook and Twitter and things like that, but idiom – email is where the sales happen. It’s where the transaction happens. How do you take that data picture and then, from a match day point of view, from acquisition – but also helping you frame what you should be doing on a match day. You suddenly make those decisions on, “These are the people that are attending,” and those kinds of things?

Arthur Gillion: Absolutely. Looking at how many games they’re going to is really key. As I keep saying, measuring their engagement with your brand. Knowing they’ve been to one, two, three, four games. What games they went to. What was the score? What was the experience that they had and how are we going to get them to go to more? We want them to experience more Melbourne Victory moments. Because, in that lifecycle, the more games they’ve been to – you’re not going to force membership messages on them because it depends on what level they’re at with their engagement with your brand, but after going to three, four, five, six games – they may be at that stage where they’re ready. We’ll never put membership out to somebody who is brand new. Membership is not a decision you make like that. As I said, it’s a life choice, and you need to have experience a big chance.

Sean: It’s very similar chat with Aaron La Valley and the LA Kings, and what he discussed with the Galaxy Net. You’ve turned up to a Galaxy Game list and you turn up to two or three, and then we might send you a specific offer around a game for return visit of that team that you saw. It’s not until you get them into that four or five range and your score, for that fan, starts going up to a point where, well, they might teeter or they might be a campaign post-season – when we’re pushing out the campaign, we’ll put something specific to them.

Arthur Gillion: An engagement touch point is a crucial in pre, at-game, post. It’s not a “you get them to the game and that’s it.” You’ve got to invest time, but putting content out there that’s consumable. You know, I will always include a video. Everything that we will be highlighting what they’ve experienced at game. We’ve got a behind-the-scenes video that we shoot and we make sure that we send a thank you when they arrive. Those touches to make sure that you enhance what they experienced and keep it going is, I’d say, crucial to that engagement and moving them along that customer journey.

Sean: And the thing is, once you embark on that and you set that bar at that level, you’ve got to keep that bar at that level or keep exceeding it; otherwise, open rates drop off, “Oh, it’s the post game email. I know what it’s going to have in it.” You’ve got to keep – always in surprise and delight. You know, “Oh, I need to open because I need to find out what the video is, or what the team said, or what the offer is.” That’s a challenge that you face daily of everything that you’ve got to put out. You’ve got to say, “I’ve got to get people to open it. I’ve got to get people to share that content or engage with it.” That’s something you’ve always got to be doing. From a technology front, from a match day point of view – is on your radar, sort of, putting off your marketing senses if we’re going Spiderman style? What’s exciting you going forward?

Arthur Gillion: I think what you can do now from a social perspective, Facebook video obviously is taking off in the way that people can videos. Custom Audiences Campaign has been really an eye-opener over the last couple of years, to have that targeted approach and especially from a match day. I can now send a message to people who have attended a game with highlights of that game that we cut, that we edited. We put out their experience. That’s really exciting stuff. From Instagram, they all have their ways in which they like to engage and everyone is different.

Like with Vine. I love Vine. I’m a big, big fan because it’s creative and I’m a creative person trying to come up with best ways in which you can put a message across in a creative manner, because people want to see. Sometimes the weirdest things will get the most reach. As much planning as you can do to something that you think is going to go bananas – you can put up a crazy picture of something on their shoes, and they’ll go nuts – but it’s about that measurability and looking at what posts work across all your platforms. The same way that we analyze with the data and how we engage, monitoring it across those social platforms and working out what works and keep going with that content.

Sean: So what about things like iBeacon and those kind of things, are they thinks that you’re looking to do down the tracks or embed into your membership apps, is that something that – now that we’ve got Etihad Stadium – they’ve just done a deal with Telstra to bring up the connectivity, those kind of things? As that type of stuff – is that stuff that you’re trying to think of “How can we better get into app?” or “How can we bring our partners in to do that kind of stuff?”

Arthur Gillion: Yeah, definitely. With apps, the growth at which we can get to in Australia with Smart Stadiums and the user-friendly mobile phone use at match is going to be the next level, as well.

Sean: So, one thing I did when I was doing a little bit of research – and that’s all I do for those interviews, a little bit of research, because I’ve known you for a while, but looking at your LinkedIn profile – before you were at Victory, you were at Powerboat.

Arthur Gillion: Yeah.

Sean: Explain to me what powerboats are, and what your role was in that sort of space?

Arthur Gillion: So, I started my sports marketing 7-8 years ago and I went in as a marketing exec at a Powerboat P-1 World Championship.

Sean: So, is that like Formula 1 for powerboats?

Arthur Gillion: Exactly. Formula 1 of the sea. So they were like 44-foot powerboats, twin engines – twin Lamborghini engines. It was a really nice entry into sports marketing, to be able to travel around the world. We’d do like France, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Tunisia and we did one week events.

Sean: So, it’s sort of like Redbull Airways style but it was in the water.

Arthur Gillion: Yeah. That was a really interesting start in terms of – it really got an understanding of brand and keeping your brand consistent across so many countries. Keeping that consistency of your core values, but then being able to adapt to different markets to try and attract people within Tunisia to go to one of your games, to try to get people in France, Spain and working with local organizers to keep that brand consistent but also to work out what works in that market. It was a challenge. It was a great challenge. I learned a lot about brand in that instance and then moving on from Powerboat P1, we developed the Superstock. P1 Superstock Series which I guess was more of a grassroots style form of racing. You could put more around boats and manufacturer on boats and were able to launch the more affordable style of motorsport racing, almost like a go-kart.

Sean: Formula 3 if you would look in the sort of space.

Arthur Gillion: Yeah, and that was a really exciting time because we were able to build a brand from scratch. We did a lot of local UK-based events as well as going over to Miami to launch the USA Superstock which was pretty cool.

Sean: Well, I can vouch for Miami for the short time that I was there and now, I’m making you jealous again because you wanted to be, but we will get you to SEAT in San Francisco. Good luck for the season ahead, for the Victory. Season 10 – expecting big things from Victory, no doubt.

Arthur Gillion: Definitely.

Sean: Thanks again.

Arthur Gillion: All right. Thank you very much, Sean.

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

Sean: Thanks again to Arthur Gillion for coming in to Sports Geek for a chat. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the Victory do in Season 10. Actually going to award them the Social Media Post of the Week. They shot some vision of their recent fan day and Mark Milligan knocked in a goal from just under halfway. Cracker of a goal, and obviously the fans rallied around it, so have a look at what the Victory are doing. Most of their channels go – MVFC is where you can find most things Melbourne Victory.

That clock is telling me that this podcast has gone too long, to wrap it up, get out, let you go get on with your life. You can find the show notes at As always, available on all those platforms I said earlier today. ITunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and now Audioboom.

Sounds of the game from Sporting KC in 2013. If you ever do get a chance to go to Sporting Park, highly recommend it. Zain, Robb – I’ve seen all the guys at Sporting Innovations – and Sporting KC do a great job in the whole fan engagement space, in making the whole experience one to remember. As I said, that wraps up this episode. Thank you very much for listening. If you can leave an iTunes review, I’d very much appreciate it. In the same way, thank you Kaylee from Scotland leaving a message, Letterman from Australia, Peter leaving one from Australia, Jeremy, Ken – up to 28 reviews so far. I do read them all and very much appreciative, and also thank you for those joined in the Facebook Q&A. We’re testing out the new Q&A feature on the Sports Geek Facebook page. Go and check it out. You can see the previous conversation. I’m going to do that as a regular feature going forward. Cheers!

D.J. Joel: Check out which teams work with Sports Geek at Find all Sports Geek podcasts at Send in your sounds of the game. Email Thanks for listening to the Sports Geek podcast.

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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Podcast Transcription

Sean: Welcome to episode 60 of the Sports Geek Podcast. On this week’s podcast, I catch up with Jack Elkins from the Orlando Magic Tour Innovation in Sports and Katie Morgan from the Texas Rangers on ticket sales, because it’s all about getting the cheeks on the SEATs.

DJ Joel: Welcome to the Sports Geek Podcast, the podcast built for the sports digital marketer. And now here’s your host, who uses digi sports sports biz and SM sports hashtags equally, Sean Callahan.

Sean: Thanks DJ Joel. My name is Sean Callanan and you are listening to the Sports Geek Podcast. This is episode 60. Thank you to those of you who have been listening since episode 1 when I had James Royer on from the Tampa Bay Lightning on and for all of the guests in between. But if you are listening for the first time, thank you very much. Please send me a tweet and tell me that you’re listening. Every feedback is welcomed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumbler, pretty much any platform, you can find me on. So at seancallahan or at sportsgeek on Twitter, and always reviews on iTunes are very much welcomed. I do read them all and take all the feedback very seriously.

On this week’s episode, I got a couple of people who I caught up with at SEAT Conference and they both presented at SEAT. I didn’t get a chance to chat with them due to the lost voice, so I scheduled a podcast interview to catch up with them. I catch up with Jack Elkins from the Orlando Magic to talk about business innovation and what he’s doing at Orlando Magic, and then I catch up with Katie Morgan from the Texas Rangers who spoke on the CRM tracker around the importance of data and how these integrated their systems from the ticketing data point of view to better target and better understand their fans and then present them with the right offers, because as I said in the opening, it’s all about getting the cheeks in the SEATs.

Just a little bit of an update from what’s happening here in Australia, if you are following from around the world, both AFL and NRL finals are up and about getting to the point here the end of the season much the same as the major league baseball are getting to the point of the end of the season. So you can keep an eye on that via the hashtags afl finals and nrl finals on all platforms, and I’ve got a few interviews. I’ve been backing up with quite a few interviews the last couple of weeks. I’ve had some internet issues at Sports Geek HQ that has caused a bit of angst. Hopefully I can get this episode out and then a few more. I’ve got some great interviews coming up.

But first here is my interview with Jack Elkins from the Orlando Magic.

I’m very happy to welcome a fellow SEAT steering committee member. I caught up with him in Miami and did a couple of panels he covered for me when I didn’t have my voice. Jack Elkins from the Orlando Magic, welcome to the podcast.

Jack Elkins: Hi Sean, it’s great to actually be able to hear you this time.

Sean: Yeah, exactly. For those who weren’t in Miami, Jack and I did a session on Sunday. I was on a strict word limit of zero words. So I was just pretty much watching the timing. When we were doing the showcase and Jack more than ably stepped in to handle the showcase. We were showing off some startups. Your title at the Orlando Magic absolutely fascinates me. It’s Business Innovations Manager. You’ve been with the Magic since 2005. Do you want to take us through the story of how you ended up in that role, because for me, like I said, it’s a fascinating combination and if you’re looking at it on your LinkedIn profile, you go what exactly is that role and how did you get there?

Jack Elkins: Sure Sean, it’s actually really exciting to me that right now I’m getting to meld the two worlds that I love and what I do. I’m very passionate about Orlando and the startup community that’s here as well as comfort innovative initiatives. And to be able to do that with my hometown team is really exciting. I’ve been with the Magic for nine years. The first big project that I worked on was actually the construction of the Amway Center. Starting from preconstruction, we toured quite a lot of buildings, and then moving into sort of the political approval side to get that pushed through and then the other world of development. That was a big part of my career at the Orlando Magic.

And coming out of that I moved into technology because that was one aspect of the project that I managed. And about two years ago, we were very fortunate to Magic, that our senior leadership came up with four really great core values. One of which was around innovation. And at the time I was considering leaving to start my own company and instead stuck around to manage the activation of that core value and different initiative that go along with it. And it’s been real exciting to start that. We’re still in the middle of the journey right now and hopefully I’ll be able to share a little bit more with you.

Sean: So I mean innovation means so many things to so many different businesses and different people. What’s innovation to you especially from a sports and a sport’s technology focus?

Jack Elkins: Absolutely, it’s the buzzword of the day. I think that there are two key ways that I see companies approaching it. I see them approaching it internally, and I see them approaching it externally, and that’s exactly how we’re trying to do that as well. A lot of companies internally either work with a third party group like Frog and IDO or a group such of that nature like Luma, or they take on sort of running their own process internally. We tend to, here at the Magic, we’ve created an innovations lab where we’re using design thinking and trying to capture what we can from our internal staff, trying to maximize what we can pull from our staff and creating space for them to actually share ideas and be creative and a way to actually channel those effectively.

And then we see companies trying to capture this externally with another buzzword of the day which is open innovation. And the cost of this, no company can master all of the knowledge that it needs nowadays to survive, and so the borders of the company are becoming more porous, and this was coined by Henry Cheesebrough, and the concept is that you can find potentially disruptive companies in your industry that exists outside of your walls that you can start to test prototypes with or practice open innovation with in order to help bring, at least in our case, help bring what’s next to the market rather than have what’s next being dictated to us. And we do this because we want to try to bring what’s the next latest and greatest thing to our fans.

Sean: So I guess there are a couple of points from my point of view like normally the people that I’m talking about, when they talk about innovation, they’re talking about the latest technology. When we’re recording this, the iPhone seeks and the Apple watches just launched a couple of hours ago. So they’re always on the technology. Here’s the new thing. Here’s the new gadget. His eye beacons. But I’m guessing you’re looking at both that technology side of things, and what’s developing there. But you’re also talking about design and experience, so it’s also a business process, innovation, how you can do things better around the stadium and through your just normal business transactions. So are you handling innovation on both sides of that fence?

Jack Elkins: Sean, you’re exactly right. Innovation, and it’s funny. Profession Rob Walcott from the McKellar School of Management says innovation is really about business design. And so, when you take for instance, starting an innovation lab, it actually requires a culture change for innovation to become part of your identity and that’s something that we’re going through right now, which is not to say that there’s not a third piece in capturing innovation internally and externally. And that’s also how do you play a part in this ecosystem, this new shift that we’re seeing, this rise in entrepreneurialism, this rise in startups, the rise in the creative class, folks that are getting their excitement off of staring a company and existing a company and starting another one not necessarily attending games, and so how do you make relationships within that field in an authentic way whereas it used to be about, hey, who can I sign up for the next sponsorship?

So how do you have relationships with this group that is disruptive and causing the next wave of innovation to occur?

Sean: And it is really a culture change, because you’re literally trying to get your whole organization to say, how can I improve this sort of every single day, aren’t you?

Jack Elkins: Yeah. I would add that you’ve got to be careful when what we’re talking about are two things. One is innovation is not just technology and digital. It just happens that today, the majority of what we’re seeing in terms of people highlighting innovative things happens to be around digital technology, but innovations happen through a lot of different ways and processes. And quite frankly, a number of our projects in our lab just happen to do with collaboration around our staff as well as some other more what would be high profile type things that they work for families.

Sean: And you’re also saying that it’s a process. It reminds me of a blog post that I made and I spoke about him at SEAT, Steve Samartino. He wrote a blog post of two bathrooms, a tale of two bathrooms. He went into two different corporations, and one had a sign that said, please leave the toilet where you found it. And the other one said, did you bring your best self to work today? Can you show us something new and amazing we haven’t thought of? And two completely different signs in a bathroom can make a change to the culture and make it an innovative business. So is that type of thing happening in the Magic organization internally?

Jack Elkins: I would say yes it is. I would say one of the things we’ve learned as we’ve embarked on this is that you can’t avoid the journey. And it’s not like you can put it in a binder and lay it on a desk and implement it Day One. It’s something that does take a culture change in order for that to happen. But then once that starts to tip like where I believe we are now, then it is possible to start working with those folks in the community with disruptive companies. Even during something like a reverse pitch scenario where you take insights that you’ve learned from your fans or a need that you have. Kansas City did this last year with KC Next.

There was a reverse pitch in Kansas City and the Kansas City Chiefs said, hey, we’re putting a wifi network out there, and we want ya’ll to help us understand what we need to do to use that to better the fan experience. And I think you’re going to see more and more teams doing corporate innovation issues, kind of like what we’re doing, because I really think the next sort of entrepreneur wave is going to sweep through sports media and entertainment.

Sean: Yeah, I wanted to tap into that whole entrepreneurial innovation startup stuff, because it’s something that I’m also passionate about. But I’m also interested, because I get, I work with teams and so I get pitched a lot of, here’s an idea of that I think I work. Well, for sports and their pitching and I know that people are listening and people like yourself who are working in sports, gets pitched a lot. Whereas you’re actually outward and you’re out there trying to find the latest and greatest. Have you got any advice for those type of disruptive companies, how to one, get your attention, but also how to peak your interest in pitching to a sports team and what you’re looking for?

Jack Elkins: Sure. I think it’s actually kind of loaded, because I think it’s actually harder to make the conviction than you think. A lot of the companies that you try to pitch are much more established. And I think when you’re really trying to find those gems, those startups, those teams, those great teams that are out there that may not have the right concept, but they’re a great team, and they could bring a product that you could work with to bring to market in CL And I look at the Cleveland Cavaliers as a great example, and this was a key takeaway of mine from the SEAT Conference. Even today with the announcement of Apple, they have TechCrunch Desrupt going on in San Francisco and you saw Dan Gilbert and Mark Cuban out there.

And Dan, himself, is kind of leading the resurgence in Detroit. And one of the venture capital firms that he’s an investor in is an accelerator called BSM. And a gentleman that came through that accelerator, Maurice Bachelor, of Snatch Batch came in with the concept and they said that doesn’t really work, but you appear to be a great developer. Let’s work together, and they came up with a great concept that they actually just rolled out to the Cavs this year this trivia piece that they added to their app Snap Batch. And so what I think they key way to have this happen is as we’ve seen during the year, a lot of teams you just can’t filter hundreds and hundreds of potential startups.

And there are people that can help you with that. Venture Capitalists can help you with that. Accelerators can help you with that, and so if you can create that relationship with those groups that are looking for the organizations to test their startups with like an Accelerator or like a BC, they can help filter, and they’re looking to do three or four great deals a year. And you might be looking to test three or four great companies a year. And you usually will find some synergy with what the top startups are in their pipeline.

Sean: And so, and that’s the primary reason that you’re pretty much well embedded in the startup scene. What is the startup scene like in Orlando?

Jack Elkins: I actually think that it’s very robust. It’s something that I think the rest of the nation will start to hear more about. The developer community in Orlando is really, really strong. And another thing that we’re starting to see is some of these great startups or great entrepreneurs in other states that have had exits, there’s actual a tax benefit when they sell to actually relocate to a state that had no state income tax. So we’ve actually seen some people moving to Orlando that were talent from previous businesses. It’s a very young ecosystem that’s growing very rapidly, and I think it’s something that we want to be a part of, and it’s something that, being an Orlando native, it’s great for me to play in the space that I live and play and love to be a part of these startups and these people that I love to be friends with and actually have a chance to meld that with what I do day-to-day at the Magic. It’s really, really gratifying.

Sean: And so sort of going forward in the next 12 to 18 months, is there any projects that you’re looking to develop or any particular areas that you’re looking to focus on? We keep seeing that going back to this stadium, engaging the fan in the stadium and how that is a real important piece for most teams, but then there’s also how can you better engage the fan that’s not in the stadium. Is there any particular focus you have going forward to the next NBA season?

Jack Elkins: I think we have a few specifics, but I think I’ll start first with we’re really still working on establishing the effective pipeline of prototypes and insights. And I think that’s going to happen through our lab as we become more entrenched with the community from an authentic and grassroots perspective within this startup ecosystem. It’s not natural, not usual for teams to play in that space. And it’s not necessarily natural to them either, because there hasn’t been a lot of big, there hasn’t been any real exits with any great sports software companies yet.

And so I think what they’re wanting to see is the insights and needs from a team side, and we’re looking to becoming more entrenched with identifying that local talent. So what we’re working on this next year is really putting the people in place to be able to qualitatively identify those needs and insights from the fan using empathy, ethnographic type research methods, and then those relationships in place within that ecosystem. Once we have some of those needs and insights, whether it be a meet up group which Orlando has some of the largest meet up groups in the Southeast, whether it be a startup weekend or a reverse pitch event, or just having a SEAT within a coworker space where we can continue those conversations and identify that local talent that can take some concepts to market, and then we can test with them, and prove it out.

Sean: Yeah, I reckon there is real value in meet ups and the people having gone to It’s a real underground networking committee as much as things like Event Broad are great for setting up events, has done a great job of just collecting these groups of people that meet on a consistent basis and some of the ideas that can spark out of those events are fascinating. So if you can one, keep participating in those conversations but then develop thickly a fan technology counsel kind of thing that can be sparking ideas for you. I’m sure that’s exactly the thing that you’re sort of looking for.

Jack Elkins: I would say that from a specifics standpoint, we really are looking to the Amway Center up into 2010, we really want to make sure we remain relevant, because the building that we opened was one of the most highly technical buildings that have ever opened at the time, and we still have a really strong robust technology infrastructure, and so new really want to continue to bring those new concepts to our fans. One of the things that we are going to continue to work on is with our partner Apex on our Wi-Fi.

And we are a test partner for Apex, and one of the first locations that they bring some of their new technology to the table, and it’s been really successful for us to be able to capture something new that was first for us last year was a portal for our fan to sign in through the Wi-Fi, and it opens up a myriad of ways in how we can deal with them. And there are a lot of technologies we are looking to continue to test this next year.

Sean: Yeah, it was a really good, I wasn’t able to attend the Jay’s presentation at SEAT, but I heard nothing but good things of his presentation in the CRM tracker at SEAT. Of that case study that you just said, where the portal and you’re starting to get more of that fan data, understanding what your fans want and what they’re doing when they’re in the stadium.

Jack Elkins: Yeah, I was actually very impressed with my colleagues at SEAT who presented. We have a business strategy group that’s second to none in the sports industry, and I’m always amazed at what they’re able to learn and bring to the table every year.

Sean: Yeah, well, thank you very much for coming onto the podcast, Jack. I’m looking forward to speaking to you more at SEAT next year in San Francisco. Thank you very much for coming on.

Jack Elkins: You’re very welcome. Hopefully we won’t wait until SEAT to connect again.

DJ Joel: Sign up for Sports Geek news at

Sean: Thanks again to Jack Elkins from the Orlando Magic. Like all Sports Geek podcast guests, you can connect with Jack via Twitter and LinkedIn by going to If you go to the website, you can find and connect with them over 75 guests I’ve had on the podcast guests. I’m very grateful for them all for taking the time to chat with me. I do want to pass on my apologies to Jack. I’ve committed one of the cardinal sins of podcast interviewing. My first rule of podcast interviewing is not to talk about the podcast with the guest before you start recording the podcast. I’m getting better at that.

But the other rule that I have is to not have interesting conversations after I turn off the mic and finish off the interview, and unfortunately, I did that with Jack this week. After we finished up that interview, we did talk about some of the innovation work the NBA is doing talking to startups and DC firms, and the like, around technology for stadiums and also he was interesting in what a lot of the players are doing, we’ve seen recently with Carmelo Anthony investing in a venture capital firm looking to support startups and Kobe Bryant also indicating it’s an area that he wants to get into. So apologies for that, Jack.

I will definitely have you on the podcast to talk more about that space, because I think the sports arena is definitely one that the startup space can leverage with such a passionate fan base to be able to test these new technologies. My next guest is Katie Morgan from the Texas Rangers. I want to thank Lou from Scribe for helping to set up this interview. Scribe was a sponsor at SEAT and Katie actually presented with Lou. We’ll talk about that and how the Texas Rangers gets cheeks on the SEATs.

I’m very happy to welcome Katie Morgan, the assistant director of ticket sales at the Texas Rangers baseball club. Welcome to the podcast, Katie.

Katie Morgan: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Sean: I’ve been trying to catch up with you for a while. I’ve been the email backwards and forwards after SEAT. I was lucky enough to be in all of the digital sessions but unfortunately I missed a bunch of the sessions in the CRM track and that’s your field. I wanted to talk a little bit about your experience at SEAT, because Miami was the first time you were at SEAT?

Katie Morgan : It was indeed, and it was actually a great conference. I came back and told me boss that it was probably one of the best conferences that I’ve been to thus far in my career.

Sean: Well, I completely agree with you. And the fact that the whole CRM tracker is just completely blowing. To have guys like Russell Scibetti driving it, and Paul Greenberg turning up and collaborating in all of the discussions. I was able to pop my head into a few sessions, but absolutely amazing sharing of stories and what you all are trying to do from an implementation point of view.

Katie Morgan: You know I couldn’t agree more and CRM and specifically data analytics are growing so much throughout our industry that it was a real blessing for us to be able to kind of sit down and pick each other’s minds. People from football like you mentioned Russell Scibetti who is no longer in football, but he use to be and also Paul Greenberg who is referenced as the godfather of CRM. To be able to sit down in a room with them, and talk to them about some of the things that we’re doing and get advises beyond imaginable for us.

Sean: So I want to go into your role as assistant director at ticket sales. It’s all about selling the tickets. It’s all about understanding the data. How did you come into the role? How long had you started at the Rangers, a long time ago? When did you start at the Rangers?

Katie Morgan: I’ve been here for six years, and I started out as an inside sales representative. And from that position, I kind of moved into a ticket sales coordinator role when then led itself into a database manager role. And now I primarily focus on the data analytic side of things. We use a data warehouse. We have replicated data with ticket, and then we obviously have Microsoft CRM. So we’re trying to jump in head first to some of that new data analytic stuff that’s going on.

Sean: And so you’re presentation, you did a presentation with, I hope I get Lou’s name right, Antonucci. Did I get that right?

Katie Morgan: I believe so.

Sean: Yeah, so Lou from Scribe, and you were talking about extending the value of CRM through integration which is a pretty common problem, the fact that everyone has all of this data, but it’s a matter of how you can get the data in the right place to be able to understand the data and get the right view of your fan, your ideal thing is that 360 degree view. Do you want to take us a little bit around the problem that you had at integrating all of that data?

Katie Morgan: Sure, so whenever I started as the database manager, we had Microsoft CRM, but we didn’t’ have an integration with anything. So we didn’t have our ticketing data in the system. We didn’t have any demographic information in that system. So basically, we were just using it as a place for our sales representatives to house notes and information about cold calls that they were making. And when we really dug down into that system, we realized that we were missing out on a lot of what it could do for us in reference to potentially letting us vet better leads for our sales representatives, letting it be a place for us to store information about every single buyer that we had, not just people that we’re trying to do business with.

So what we did is we partnered with Scribe, and we did an integration between not only our ticketing system and our CRM system, but also we use the Turnkey Prospector who demographic information to us. And we did an integration between that system and also CRM. So now when we look at our system, we have a little bit better view of not only our current clients, but people that we’re trying to get to do business with us. And in turn that’s really helped us kind of enhance our revenue streams and also just give reps better leads to follow up on every day.

Sean: So it is just a matter of getting the right data in the right place. So that have got those leads?

Katie Morgan: Yeah, it really is, because if you have information, you know, let’s take you for instance. Let’s say I have information that maybe you brought a couple of tickets from us but then I also have some demographic information on you, where you live and maybe what you’re interested in, but those are in three different areas. It’s really hard to combine those areas and figure out what type of buyer you actually are. But CRM, and moreso, the integration with CRM, allowed us to get all of that data in one place so that we could see a better picture of who our buyers are.

Sean: And is that extended to now having a better understanding of who those buyers are to now who you pitch those deals to for ticket offers and sort of help your outbound marketing when you’re going out with specific ticket offers, because you know the type of buyers that you are getting now?

Katie Morgan: That’s exactly right. For instance, we’re integrated with our ticketing systems. So we can look in CRM and say, okay, so Sean has bought 20 tickets to games this year, and we have a 20-game package that would be perfect for him. So why don’t we give him a call and see if that’s something that he wants to look into, or maybe for a different type of buyer, we noticed that they’re based out of Lovett, Texas which is five hours away. But we notice that they like to bring fairly large groups out to the game, but they’re paying full price for those groups. Why don’t we give them a call and offer them our group pricing and maybe get them out to a couple of more games and really enhance their experience out here as well.

Sean: So have you started taking some of the data at the moment you’re giving it to your sales people to call and follow up, but if you also started taking some of that data to attract more leads into your system?

Katie Morgan: We have, so what we’ve done is we’ve kind of done an overall analysis of who buys specific packages from us whether that’s a full season, a half season, a group buyer, a suite buyer, and really dugged down and looked at the buyer that person is if there is a mileage range that they are from the ballpark, if they have children in their house, just really looking and focusing on the 360 degree few of a specific type of buyer. And then when we go out and try to find new leads we really try to hone in on that specific type of lead or a specific package. So it’s really made us more efficient when we are trying to purchase leads or potentially just find new leads in different sources, we’re a little bit better apt to find the correct ones now.

Sean: And as far as I guess another source of data is the fact that you’ve got, I think it’s 2.8 million Facebook fans. Are you starting to see some, you know, taking that same demographic data, that same fan profiles, can you target those fans and those profiles with some more efficiently, because you’ve got that data of knowing who your fans are more likely to be?

Katie Morgan: Right. So in major league baseball, it’s a little different, because we partner with major league baseball advanced media in terms of doing our social media and also our email campaigns. So we’ve been fortunate that they have come to us with several ideas that kind of target some of those people that we’ve been seeing who are not only, you know, hitting us on social media but also on our website. So we are fortunate that major league baseball advanced media helps us out with that.

Sean: Yeah, because effectively that whole side of the equation, you know, Mark Zuckerberg is effectively doing a lot of that that stuff or you to tell you that these are your most engaged fans. These are the fans that are visiting your site, and I guess it’s just another data source that can provide that view of the fan.

Katie Morgan: You’re exactly right, and it seems like everything is moving in that direction as well. Well, not only are people more active on social media, but they’re making their purchases online more often. They’re looking for information online more often, and so you really have to take that into consideration when you’re marketing to new buyers.

Sean: And now that we hear just in the last week Twitter is bring out a buy button in the integration with Facebook to be able to click and buy is getting so much easier to be able to put that offer directly in front of that right fan will become far more important, especially for the ticket sales, and things like that, to be able to get that offer to them where they’re sitting, right in the palm of their hand on their mobile.

Katie Morgan: That’s exactly right, because if you go and look at the statistics, people are on their phone all the time. So if you can just hit them with an offer while they’re looking at their phone, they’re a lot more app to buy it than if they have to go sit down at a computer or make the phone call. It’s a one-click stop.

Sean: So from a CRM point of view, you are also on a panel around the pros and cons of data warehouse and the analytics. I’m assuming you’re definitely on the pro side, but what was that panel discussion like at SEAT?

Katie Morgan: I am definitely on the pro side for both of those. But the panel discussion for me was very informative, because I was lucky enough to have two other panel participants who took a little bit different of a view on the data warehouse and how it was set up and how they’re using it. So from my perspective, I was not only able to give advice to those out there who are looking to set up a data warehouse, but I was able to take back a little more information on how we can potentially use it to better target people and also potentially build progression in predictive models which is something we definitely want to get into eventually. So for me, it was very beneficial, and I hope that the people that were at the panel thought the same thing.

Sean: One question you did sort of talked about it, and I have definitely seen it over the last couple of years, because CRM tracker at SEAT started in Boston is that it is a very daunting process at the very beginning. When you say we have got data, we have got a data base, but we don’t quite know enough to know what we’re doing. We don’t know. We’re at the very start of that mountain of here’s what we want our CRM solution to be. You’ve climbed that mountain. You’re still climbing it, because there are more things to be able to do. What advice or what tips would you the person at the start of that trip to say we need to get our data in order. We need to get a CRM solution in place.

You’ve gone through that with the Rangers. What’s some of the advice when you’re first starting out? What are some of the key things you have to look for?

Katie Morgan: I think there are two things. I think first you need to be willing to involve a lot of people in your organization, not just sales or ticket operations, or marketing. It needs to be a group effort, because what we realize is we’re setting it up, and even now, there are so many aspects to a CRM system and a data warehouse for that matter that hit every single department of your organization. And I think it’s really important that you remember that. So while you’re laying out how you’re going to house your data, how you’re going to get it in your CRM system, what you want it to look like.

It’s very beneficial to have all of those people in there with you, because they can say, well, if you’ll just tweak this one field a little bit that would be usable for us in marketing as well. So you get a little bit of benefit from every single department. And I think the second thing that I would tell somebody is to not be afraid to reach out for help not only in the sports industry but outside of the sporting industry as well. I think you can gain a lot of information from other types of companies that maybe you wouldn’t have thought of, because we’re so honed in on just the sports side of things. So that would probably be the best advice that I could give somebody.

Sean: Well that’s right. Talking to guys like Paul Greenberg, like you said referred to the godfather of CRM, you know CRM is not a new technology, and there are industries that have been doing it far better than sports for many more years. Follow their lessons and learn from what they’ve done to take it onboard.

Katie Morgan: I agree completely. And Paul Greenberg spoke at a conference for Major League Baseball three or four years ago, and it was the first time that I had interacted with Paul and I kind of took what he said to heart that you really need to take advantage of those people around you. And he even gave us the ability to give him a call to consult on our CRM system and that’s something that you have to take advance of when you have people around you that have been doing this a lot longer than you have or organizations that seem to have it down. Give them a call. In the long run, not only are you making a new connection, but it’s going to pay off for your organization or team.

Sean: And the other thing I think is also really important is that you’re growing the knowledge in the industry itself. So the rising tides lifts all boats type of strategy if more teams are understanding the technology and using it effectively, and sharing best practice, then you’re able to get better results across the board.

Katie Morgan: I agree completely, and that was the best thing about SEAT for me is typically when I go to a conference, its major league baseball, and that’s great because it’s great to talk to other teams and my peers of other teams. But being able to sit in with the NFL, NHL, soccer teams from England, you really pick up on some new things that maybe you never thought of before and that was so beneficial to us when we came back. I had pages and pages of notes and people to reach out to. And I think that’s what I took away from SEAT is not only the connections that I made, but the things that people are doing in other aspects of our industry.

Sean: Yeah, and I think the other part which is why I wanted to touch base with you is not only were you getting up to talk about what you’ve done, but it was being done with Scribe side-by-side and you were taking people through a case study rather than, you know, no offense to Lou, but if a sponsor gets up and starts making their ways, it’s like well, hang on. We’ve heard the sales script before but we don’t want sales script. We want to know, we want to get our hands dirty and sort of find out exactly what you did, how you went about it, and some of the lessons that you learned, and the places that you stumbled, I think that’s really good when a team and reps from the team will get up and talk about how they’re using products, because a lot of the success is in the how and how you go about doing it and why you chose that tool and how the integration worked and not just look at the feature set and here’s our product features list and those kinds of things.

Katie Morgan: I think you hit the nail on the head with that, because as somebody who’s using a lot of the software that was being presented by teams and also the vendors that were there, it’s a lot easier for you to relate to a specific software there whenever you know how people are using it so I can kind of put myself in their shoes. Whereas previously, if somebody was just getting up there telling me about how their software works, it’s a little bit tougher for me to say, okay, if I took this back to ballpark, I could use it here, here, and here. But when you have somebody up there, especially a trusted colleague within the industry, and you can hear a little bit about not only how it works for them, but some of the road bumps that they came across, it makes it a little bit more real and a little bit more susceptible for us to maybe go down that route, because we understand how it can be a positive thing for our company.

Sean: So one thing I do want to ask is we seem to be getting more and more data from fans and just from life in that fact that we’ve got all of these devices that track everything, you know, the new iPhone is going to be tracking where we are. Our watch is going to tell us what our heart rate is. Is there a case that there’s too much data, that there will get us to a point where enough is enough?

Katie Morgan: You know, I think that’s a tough question. I don’t think there can ever be too much data, but I think it’s up to the individuals to figure out what they actually need out of that data. So for us, if we took all of the data that was out there for us to use, I would use a completely different set for something that I was doing than say maybe somebody in marketing would use. So I think it’s very important that you have all of that data. And yes, sometimes it can get a little bit watered down. But I’m a firm believer that all data out there is good data and that you could use it in some form or fashion.

Sean: Very good. I also just want to go back on a point you were saying about rolling out a CRM and really getting by across the whole organization, because getting that good data and understanding that data is a real companywide thing. In the digital track, we pretty much had the same discussion saying digital is everywhere it’s the face across the whole organization, and I think that are both sort of hand in hand in that all of your different departments will benefit if they understand and buy in why we’re getting the data, why we’re reaching these fans. So I think we may be need to talk to Christine and get a little more sessions where we get the digital guys and CRM guys in the same room as well just threshing out some of those topics.

Katie Morgan: Yes. I think that will be very beneficial as well, because there were some things that we talked about on the CRM and data analytics track that we brought back to our organization and sat down with members of our IT department and our marketing department and say, you know, this came up in one of our sessions and how will we be able to implement that? Would it be beneficial in your areas as well? And I think that it’s very important to kind of showcase how the different departments work together to not only get to a common goal but how it benefits each department as well. I think that’s very, very important when you’re not only trying to sell a product but also figure out the best route for your company.

Sean: Yep. One of the phrases in your slide deck, I was checking it out before this interview, it’s all about the cheeks in the SEATs. I love that phrase. I’m going to start using that more often about getting people to the game. Is that one yours?

Katie Morgan: It’s actually not. I have to give credit to Lou for that one.

Sean: Oh well, it’s all about the cheeks in the SEATs. I’m definitely going to be using that one from now on.

Katie Morgan: It’s definitely true.

Sean: It is. It is. It’s all about getting people there. It’s all about engaging them when they are there. And what you can do is get that data to understand why they are there. Why they’re turning up? What they’re turning up with, here they’re coming from, because everyone has different motivations. And so that’s the fascinating thing with the data side of it. There are so many different views of the data to be able to find those different types of fans.

Katie Morgan: I agree completely.

Sean: Well, Katie, thank you very much for spending some time. I’m looking forward to catching up with you in San Francisco next year for SEAT 2015.

Katie Morgan: I look forward to it, and it was great catching up with you as well Sean.

DJ Joel: Want to understand Facebook advertising options? Go to

Sean: Thanks to Katie Morgan from the Texas Rangers. Like with all of the guests that have said earlier, you can connect with them all at Just follow the links. It’s linked to the episode guides, the previous episodes and also a link to all of the guests. So thanks to Katie and thanks to Scribes Soft as a SEAT sponsor for helping tee up that interview. That wraps us this episode of Sports Geek podcast. I guess one thing that I wanted to talk about is the announcement recently that Twitter is going to integrate and start offering the Twitter buy button which is really just an extension of Twitter cards and bringing in a payment facility.

I’m interested in your take on it. We heard previously there with Katie that loves in having some success selling ticket via Twitter and via Facebook. So it will be interesting in seeing how the buy button works and the integration will be the key part getting it to work with the payment providers and then getting it to work with the ticketing providers that will be where the secret source will happen. But if you’re not using the Twitter cards right now, for some of your activations whether it be e-mail signups or even just to promote some of your key content, I really suggest that you should look into that. You probably seen the Twitter cards that I’ve been using in Sports Geek to either promote people to go to iTunes store to review the podcast, which you can do at

So play around with that. Just simply go into your analytics in the ad side of your Twitter account and set up some Twitter cards, some really cool stuff. The social media post of the week is going to go to TBS on MLB with this great promo from Brian Cranston of Breaking Bad fame. Here’s a snippet.

Brian Cranston: I have been doing a lot of movie and tv work, and i felt it was just time for me to get back to the basics by diving right into my great passion, baseball. And I also knew that I wanted to do this one-man show, so then it hit me, why not dramatize the entire MLB post season. It would be my greatest acting challenge. And there were problems, I sunk a lot of money into this, but you never know when the inspiration will hit you. The Buckster, Mr. B. Any actor who tells you that he is not inspired by Bugs Bunny is a liar.

Sean: As I said, it’s about a five or six minute mini movie and some really good work there by the guys at The Bleacher Report. It’s on the Bleacher’s Report Youtube channel. I’ll put that link in the show notes, definitely watch it. It’s a great way to promote the upcoming MLB playoffs. There’s the clock wind up. It’s telling me it is time to wind up this episode and let you get on with your day. You can find the show notes for this episode at So that’s 60 episodes of the Sports Geek podcast. Thank you very much for downloading and supporting the podcasts. I’m going to dedicate this episode to this man, see if you know who it is.

DJ Joel: He threw it up there, and it went in. Well he has a record and McHale goes over to congratulate him. McHale aims. Larry Bird has 57 points, and all-time Boston record for one game. And McHale has set the record less than two weeks ago. Bird, foul shot, got it. Bird has 58 and with 3 seconds, Bird will try another jumper, and hit it at the buzzer. Bird has 60 points. Larry Bird scores 60 points. Look at the Boston players mob him. Larry Bird scored 60. It is the greatest shooting exhibition that I’ve ever seen in my life. Larry Bird, one more impossible shot after the other.

Sean: There you go. Larry Bird scoring 60 points versus the Atlanta Hawks way back on March 12, 1985, playing a game in New Orleans of all places. So oh yeah, here’s some highlights for the 50 point win, for the 50 best episode with Michael Jordan, so I thought 60 points, I pretty much put 60 points into Youtube, and Larry Bird was one of the first names that came up. So I’m going to dedicate this episode to him. Thank you very much for listening to the Sports Geek Podcast. Please, as I said, send me a tweet. I really do like it when people are live tweeting. As you’re listening to the episode, connect with the guests, and if you’ve got a question, please send me an email Until next week, cheers from me.

DJ Joel: Check out which teams work with Sports Geek at Go to for more sports digital marketing resources. Did you know that Sports Geek podcast has listeners in over 35 countries? Thank you for sharing. Thanks for reviews on iTunes.

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

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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.

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