Sports Marketing Conferences

Sports Geek is happy to be announced as a media partner for the Sports Research Group 2010 Conference schedule.

Sport Research Group is Asia Pacific’s home to great sports marketing conferences; after holding three international sport marketing conferences, Rugby is Fantastic ’06 (held in Auckland), Sport is Fantastic ‘08 (held in Sydney) and Sport is Fantastic ‘09 (held in Melbourne).

In 2010, Sport Research Group hosts three more international sport marketing conferences; the Fan & Participant Engagement in the Digital Age conference in Sydney on Tuesday 13 July & Wednesday 14 July; the Sport Leaders Summit; also in Sydney on Tuesday 13 July and Sport is Fantastic 2010 in Auckland on Monday 19 July & Tuesday 20 July.

Sport Research Group has compiled a very impressive lineup of speakers from Europe & USA who have been leading the way in the use of social media & digital marketing in sports.  Check out the international speaker lineup.  More are still be added to the lineup, I will keep you posted.

Sports Geek will be responsible for managing the social media requirements of the conferences as well as running a Sports Social Media Workshop for conference delegates.  Stay tuned for news and promotions around the conference.

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Fantasy sports – The first wave of social media?

Recently my inbox was bombarded with emails concerning NBA fantasy trades in my local NBA fantasy competition.  It got me thinking that if social media is defined as connected discussion then the boom of fantasy sports online could be seen as a pioneer in social media.

Like social media, fantasy sports connects people bringing them together over a common interest.  It stimulates off-line meetups like we see on Twitter with tweetups.  Our NBA fantasy competition regularly holds our draft night each year in company board rooms or stadium corporate suites.  Do you meet with your fantasy sports friends IRL (in real life) if so let us know how?

We keep hearing the statistics on how much time people are spending on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter & YouTube.  Fantasy sports is a huge driver of web site traffic as the guys at SuperFooty can attest with SuperCoach.  Not only is there a huge spike in traffic when the teams are announced each Thursday, fans flock to the site for the final match of the round on Sunday to check the progress of their weekly matchup.

On that note there are still spots available in the SuperCoach Twitter League Code 404204 please join in the fun.

What do you think?
Can fantasy sports be regarded as social media?

Why do you play fantasy sports?

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Social media blurring lines for sports information

As blogged previously by Sports Geek slowly teams & media are sitting up and taking notice.

Monitoring of your brand is mandatory to hear what your fans are saying but in some cases also your players.  Conversely, athletes also need to be aware of the impact a tweet or picture on Facebook may have on their image and their club’s image.  Most athlete’s “get it” but for those who don’t there needs to be sports executives monitoring the digital space to protecting the team & league’s brand.

This from Sports Illustrated saying the tweets shared by NBA players may be crucial in monitoring the big free agent class of 2010.

Social networking will influence the free-agent market this summer. So promises a league insider with an extended background in college basketball.

“In the old days, teams used to control players,” he said. “Now the teams have lost that control, to the point that the NBA had to put in rules that players are not allowed to use Twitter at halftime. The thing with these players, their lifestyles revolve around technology. They want instant information.

“You’re now dealing with kids who think that anything you do or say is public. To them it is public, because they all communicate with each other.”

This week, the Celtics dealt with a half-day of speculation that Pierce was out for the year after teammate Shelden Williams posted a Twitter message that suggested bad news was on the way. As a result, the Celtics rushed out a news release late at night diagnosing Pierce as day-to-day with a sprained foot. “They don’t think about the rules or privacy when they use Twitter,” the league insider said. “The Celtics don’t want the opposition to know if Pierce is injured, but Williams didn’t think about what he was doing to the Celtics; he just did it.

“Twitter has become a broadcasting network for athletes. Around July 1, there is going to be so much tweeting among the free agents, and all of these guys will be communicating with each other, and if you don’t think they’re going to be telling each other about the offers they’re getting, then you’re crazy. It’s going to be the summer of instant information, and it’s going to change the whole market, because everybody will know what kind of money is out there and what each team is trying to do.

“If I were a GM, I’d hire two or three kids from college and have them scour the Internet every day to find out what’s being said by who. If you want to know what’s going on, that’s how you can find out.”

If you want to see what athletes are tweeting then follow our list – Athletes Who Tweet.  Are we missing your fave athlete who tweets? Let us know at @_SportsGeek_.

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Working with League brands

One of the biggest challenges many teams face is differentiating themselves whilst adhering league brand guidelines.  It was a common theme with the teams I met with on #sportsgeektrip.

Many leagues across the globe follow a similar digital model.  League web sites are developed and team web sites are created under the league umbrella.

MLB.com, NBA.comNHL.com, AFL.com.au are some examples of these Leagues that follow this “Umbrella model”.
(*edit thanks for comment: Essendon stand alone as an exception running independently of the AFL very successfully with EssendonFC.com.au)

If you take a look at team websites e.g. LA Dodgers Vs New York Yankees or Collingwood Vs Hawthorn you’ll see some team customization but they are locked into a League framework.  The NBA follows a similar model but teams are using custom landing pages (or splash pages like the Mavs do) to offer fans special deals.

Other leagues like the NFL.com & PremierLeague.com have decoupled the League’s web deal from the teams.

What’s better?

The “Umbrella model” makes administration of League branding much easier and sometimes can lead to a better sponsorship deal as it is league-wide.  However, it can be restrictive both creatively and financially to the teams who want to push the Web 2.0 envelope.  From a technical prospective a league wide CMS (content management system) does reduce the need for in-house web staff for teams but many people who use these systems find them too restrictive.  Leagues that abandon the “Umbrella model” face the problem of a potentially creating a tech gap between the have and have-nots.  Some teams like those run by MSG (Knicks, Rangers, Liberty) help promote their teams outside the standard team’s sites through the stadium (TheGarden.com), then again with so many sports properties MSG is a unique business.

What are your thoughts?

  • Does the ability for league’s to secure deals outweigh a team’s desire to innovate?
  • Would teams do a better job if they could go it alone?
  • Would small-market teams struggle maintaining own website?

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#sportsgeektrip so far

Well with under a week to go on #sportsgeek I thought I’d give a quick recap of the trip so far…

I started with a Sports Geek Bucket List

Here’s just some of what I’ve done so far:

  • Attended a College Tailgate but also the game! BCS Championship Game at Rosebowl with 94,000 of my closest friends.  Go Longhorns!
  • Got my picture taken with the BCS Coaches Trophy.
  • Saw the NBA’s best player Kobe Bryant (3 times) unfortunately he hasn’t been at his best but does enough to win.  Including a cross town match against the LA Clippers with Baron Davis at his best & Aussie Andrew Bogut’s Bucks who unfortunately had no fight left in them.
  • Watched Dirk Nowitski score his 20,000th NBA point against the Lakers from the a private suite at American Airlines Center.
  • Saw Mark Cuban at Mavs game unable to meet him he is too excited about his Mavs in season.
  • Toured the American Airlines Center with CEO Brad Mayne including the terrific facilities the Mavs in their locker room.  Terrific facility Brad, best HD scoreboards I’ve seen (excluding the ridiculous screen at Cowboys Stadium).
  • Fell in love with the beauty & history of Dodger Stadium, will be back for a game.
  • Jaw dropping amazement of the magnitude of the Cowboys Stadium with the Cowboys on the field practicing!
  • Saw Big Ben Wallace from the Pistons turn back the clock against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.  Great history in that arena, even walking around met Walt “Clyde” Frazier & John Starks.
  • Watch some great hockey thanks to the LA Kings at the Staples Center & Dallas Stars at American Airline Center.

That is just the venues, games & sports stars you may know but I’ve met a lot of cool people as well. All the time taking notes on the promotions, marketing and watching offline fans to see how to best connect them with online fans.

If you’re in New York come & say G’day as I’m hosting a #sportsgeektweetup on Wednesday night 7pm at ESPN Zone.

Cowboys Stadium… WOW!

Yesterday I toured Cowboys Stadium, I know they say things are big in Texas but that was ridiculous.

The screen alone cost $40M weighs as much as a full Airbus.  The roof sagged 5 inches when it was first attached.

I was lucky enough to take the tour while the Cowboys were preparing for their playoff encounter against Brett Favre’s Minnesota Vikings.  To simulate the the noise expected by Vikings fans they pumped crowd noise throughout the stadium.  While standing in the end zone I recorded this, have a listen.

Crowd Noise During Cowboys Practice

Unfortunately no video was allowed but check out the Cowboys Stadium photo gallery for some great shots.

I wouldn’t be Sports Geek if I wasn’t impressed with the full-on DataCenter that is the heart of the stadium.  Standard stuff from an IT point of view but everyone seemed very impressed with the Mission-Impossible style description “6 seconds to get out if there’s a fire, as the oxygen is sucked out of the room”.

I jokingly referred to Cowboys Stadium as the “Death Star” which I think Jerry Jones would like.  Little did I know that is one of the names the locals have given it.  Tours have been extremely popular with 150,000 people touring the venue in it’s first 127 days.  It has a staff of 6,200 on game day and will host the 2010 NBA All-Star game and the 2011 Super Bowl.

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Great night at the AAC

On Wednesday night I went to check out two of the NBA powerhouses Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers at the Mavs’ home court American Airlines Center.

One of the reasons that Dallas was picked for the #sportsgeektrip was to meet Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban who I consider a fellow Sports Geek.  Unfortunately, he was unable to meet me during the season but he was kind enough to reply and wish me well on the #sportsgeektrip. Outside the AAC there was a definite buzz with the Lakers in town.  The Mavs Street Team ran promotions with inflatable hoops keeping the young fans entertained as well as a DJ & host promoting the game and firing up the fans.

One promotion I liked was free tickets to fans who made the “extra” effort.  Fans turned up in costumes, full body paint, wigs, etc and for that they received a standing room ticket at the end of the court.

I did a lap of the American Airlines Center concourse, it wasn’t as spacious as the Staple Center but it used every inch efficiently for concessions, promotions & merchandising.  I was seated just above the visitor’s tunnel behind the Maverick’s bench.  As luck would’ve have it Mark Cuban was sitting 30 feet in front of me.  It was quite funny to seem him motion to the bench to turn the music up during the introductions to get the fans fired up.

The Mavs provide great entertainment value for the fan outside the great talent on the floor.  With the Mavs Surround Sound Drumline & the ManiAACs providing plenty of energy during the game (check out video below).  One nice touch was the fact the rims were miked up, if a shot clunked out you heard it likewise if Dirk swished a 3 -ball you caught that as well.  The video production work on the scoreboards were both more entertaining (Ron Burgundy provided the security notices) and more informative with stats provided throughout the night than the Staples Center.

What happened next I can only explain in one word… awesome!

After a few tweets pre-game..

@seancallanan – G’day @mcuban, Sports Geek here… If you sitting near me in Section 115, Row H, Seat 7 stop by and say hi ;) #sportsgeektrip #gomavs 3:52 PM Jan 13th from Tweetie

@seancallanan – G’day @bradmayne, I’ve arrived at your arena to see the Mavs hand the Lakers a lesson #sportsgeektrip #gomavs http://twitpic.com/xz8ka 3:40 PM Jan 13th from Tweetie

Brad Mayne, CEO of American Airline Center, stopped by seat and invited me back to his suite at the Platinum Club.  At half-time I checked out the Platinum club level and met up with Brad at his suite.  Great view of the game and in the second half Dirk Nowitzki scored his 20,000 NBA point.  With a Foster’s in hand (apparently the Aussie reputation for liking beer precedes us) I was able to meet some great people who manage facilities around the globe for Global Spectrum as well as learn more about IAAM (International Association of Assembly Managers Foundation).

Great facility Brad, I highly recommend taking in a game at the AAC if you’re in Dallas.  I’ll be back on Saturday to see some more NHL when the Dallas Stars take on the Detroit Red Wings.  Tweet me @seancallanan if you want an impromptu #sportsgeektweetup, but it will take a lot to beat that one ;)

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Sports Geek TV in Big D

I’m in Dallas now but I recorded this yesterday morning just a recap of the LA leg of #sportsgeektrip. It’s been great checking out different sports and facilities but also how teams promote themselves and their sponsors at games.

To keep an eye on the #sportsgeektrip via Twitter by following @seancallanan
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Televised AFL Draft… we’d like to see that

There have already been a few reviews on the Fox Sports coverage of the AFL Draft.  To say reviews were mixed would be kind. Rather than point out what went wrong, here is the Sports Geek suggestions for AFL Draft 2011 (which by the way will be a tough cover with every 2nd pick going to the Gold Coast).

  1. Lose the reverse order top 10 announcements – It doesn’t “build anticipation” when most question marks on picks start at 7 or 8 but you announce pick 10 first.
  2. Move to a bigger venue – I would hold the draft at a venue like Rod Laver Arena, tickets could be sold to fans and make the draft an entertaining night.
  3. Let Andrew Demetriou announce all picks - Following the NBA & NFL model, apologies to recruiting managers in the future you will submit your picks in allocated time to be read out by AFL CEO who would then greet and congratulate each pick.
  4. Slow down – Allow the broadcasters some time to report on and analyze the picks.  The pace was furious making it hard for TV producers and web producers alike.
  5. Build drama – Quite surprising that one of the bigger stories of the night being Luke Ball was largely overlooked in the Fox coverage.
  6. Discover draft stars – Agree with Ed Wyatt allow some fresh TV talent be discovered as a Draft Expert.
  7. Integrate the fans in the coverage – Why not embrace the chatter on Twitter & Facebook and work it into the coverage with a ticker the same way MTV does?
  8. Use technology available – Costs are involved but the AFL Draft is a perfect vehicle to showcase the multi-channel options on Fox Sports.  e.g. Highlights, Interviews, Stats, Multiple Audio are just a few that would’ve fit well.
  9. Talk to the players – The stars of the night are the players yet we didn’t hear from many of them at all.  Sure they are kids but most would’ve been interviewed a few times during the lead up.  A few standard “How excited are you?” questions give the fans a little insight into their new recruits.
  10. Who’d we pick? – Answer the most important question of the night, ALL NIGHT.  Make sure the talent on hand knows the players picked and can give some info to the fans.  Remember all footy fans want is hope and it goes a long way in selling memberships.

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AFL Draft Machine, keeping fans involved

AFL Draft MachineOver the past 10 years the AFL Draft has grown in profile, just 3 years ago it was a 1 hour highlight show on Saturday afternoon, this year it will make it’s debut in prime time on Fox Sports on Thursday night.

Some purists may suggest that this is just another example of the AFL following the lead of US sports like the NFL and NBA, but why not follow? The NFL draft is so successful it is covered by TWO networks!  USA Today describes the NFL Draft as “the next step in the evolution on the highest-rated TV sports where nobody moves much”.

The AFL Draft will be a HIT in prime time as fans are missing their footy fix. The draft provides one thing to all footy fans, hope.  The televised AFL Draft will be slightly different to the NFL as the top 10 picks will be announced in reverse order from 10 to 1. Will this work? We’ll see on Thursday.

The AFL is promoting the Draft on AFL.com.au with the AFL Draft Machine . It allows fans to sift through draft prospects and try to determine who their team may pick up. Online promotions like this are terrific in allowing fans to participate in an event. It allows the AFL to “crowd source” data regarding the popularity of picks and report back to the fans. This exactly what Mark Cuban was talking about on why Live Sports is still the king on TV.