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Top 5 Takeaways from Digital Sport Manchester

Top 5 Takeaways from Digital Sport Manchester

Matt Briggs from The Online Rule has kindly put together his takeaway thoughts from the recent (and first ever) #DSManchester event which took place last Thursday (17th) at TechHub.  A further write up with the presentation slides and a Storify of the day will also be up on the site in the next couple of days…

Manchester got a dose of Digital Sport last Thursday when UK Sports Network brought the event to the North West.

The line-up was one of the strongest yet, with delegates being treated to presentations and discussions involving the likes of BBC Sport, Manchester City, Everton, deltatre, Stream UK, Leeds Rugby and Manchester Metropolitan University.

As you might imagine four hours of digisport chat with such a diverse range of speakers threw up a lot of talking points, too many to be covered in one solitary blog post. Instead I’ve pulled together five of the key takeaways from the afternoon.


1. The power of stories

Agency or in house, it didn’t matter. Every presenter and panel member at #DSManchester, regardless of their background, talked passionately about the effectiveness of one thing – stories.

The most provocative and engaging content doesn’t just fall out of the heads of marketers and make its way onto our screens, it comes from those people who have tales to tell about the things that make sports fans tick. Our job is to facilitate the telling of these “stories from the stands”.

Nothing quite highlighted how accurate this assertion was like Capsool’s CityStories project, which allows dedicated Blues from across the globe to share their experiences with the club and other supporters. The result is a highly personal and evocative history of the club written by those who have lived it. Good sport is greater than a brand.

2. Don’t underestimate the importance of video

Yes, yes, you may be sick of hearing it, after all we have been reminded for years now, but video really is the king of content. As Matthew Quinn of Stream UK pointed out, pictures may paint a thousand words but according to Forrester Research one minute of video is worth 1.8 million!

That’s not all. A good video can increase the likelihood that your site will find itself on the first page of Google by 53 per cent as well as double the length of time users spend on your website. Have you got a product to sell? A video of it makes users 144 per cent more likely to add it to the cart.

It’s lucky for us that sport makes great video. How clubs go about leveraging that and distributing the content is another discussion entirely.

british cycling

3. Mobile first? No, mobile equal

“Mobile first” is one of those phrases that has been drilled into the skulls of anyone involved in digital over the past twelve months. It’s no surprise. The UK mobile market worth £1.03 billion and it’s estimated that mobile use will surpass that of desktop in 2014. Does all this really mean you should neglect the big screen experience at the expense of the smaller one? Mobile experts Scott McLeod, Mike Dunphy and Russell Stopford didn’t think so.

Mobile may be gaining are larger audience share but users are gradually shifting from desktop to mobile, not migrating all at once. Don’t damage the experience of one set of users by opting for mobile first. Instead aim for mobile equal. Ensure that the content, interaction and experience remains the same regardless of where or how they are visiting your site. Make your message consistent across all platforms.

4. Know your audience

British Cycling decided to set up their Go Sky Ride community because they knew their audience wasn’t just made up of hardcore cycling buffs, but casual riders too. This basic awareness of how diverse the cycling community in Britain is has since set the tone for the governing body’s relationship management.

British Cycling understood that information gathering exercise shouldn’t just stop at understanding the obvious differences between stakeholders. Knowing who and what their audience likes has allowed them to make educated decisions about who should front the next campaign and when it should be launched. As Susan Tranter said: “getting to know your audience is not a waste of time”.

Identifying how, why and when users consume content can’t guarantee success, but it can certainly give you a fighting chance.

5. Fighting the churn

Leeds Rhinos lose the most followers on Twitter on a match day. Conversely it’s also the time of week they gain the most followers.

Why the churn? Existing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter simply aren’t designed to accommodate the sheer volume of posts that a match can bring. The result is a one size fits all approach, where clubs are using networks that aren’t built for in-depth commentary out of fear that if they don’t provide that service some fans will look elsewhere. Unfortunately it’s a tactic that also brings overexposure and turns off some supporters off.

There is no hard or fast way to end the high turnover of followers, but one way to combat it is to ensure that you’re creating stellar content elsewhere. According to Phil Daly the Rhinos use social media to give fans 360 degree access to the club: “where a security guard stops you on match day, we let you in”.

Be unique. Clubs can offer a huge amount of exclusive material to supporters. Even those that may not appreciate having their feeds full of blow by blow accounts of every single match they will appreciate that behind the scenes snap of the players celebrating a famous victory.

digital sport manchester

Posted in Digital, Events0 Comments

The Rise of Smart TV, Brings New Innovations For MLB Fans

The Rise of Smart TV, Brings New Innovations For MLB Fans

Guest Post: Charlotte Males is the Founder of Sports Intern UK. She is a firm believer that Digital and Sport have a lot to learn from each other and is excited to see where this partnership can lead. A big fan of US sport, you can contact her at @charliemales.

With the rise of smart TVs, comes the rise of new innovations to enhance the TV viewing experience for the sports fan. This is great news for Major League Baseball fans, as a new application is set to expand and enhance the broadcast viewing experience for fans.

A new partnership between Bloomberg Sports, OneTwoSee and LG Electronics has been announced, and is set to bring real time interactive statistics and advanced analytics to fans TV Screens alongside MLB games. The three companies announced the partnership at CES in January, and the application is free and included on all new LG smart TVs. With Bloomberg Sports supplying the analytics, LG Electronics supplies the hard ware and OneTwoSee being the creative middle man.

The application will allow fans to see engaging data and graphics during the live game. For example, LA Dodger fans watching Clayton Kershaw pitch will be able to see statistics surrounding him, such as; the probability of him throwing a curveball vs. a fastball, or other stats including ball to strike ratio. All stats in the application would update in real-time through-out the game. Stats and analytics will be available for all positions on pitch including batters.

“Smart TV apps can provide highly personalized and targeted ad experiences that are configured to work in lockstep with the broadcast flow… Because the platforms are largely web based, the media delivery options and calls to action are fairly extensive.  In addition, the ad delivery can be tied directly to contextually relevant events and triggered based on those events.  For example, by leveraging our Action Trigger ad platform brands can deliver ads around certain types of plays, such as a steal or a home run, and tie the creative in a campaign to the event.  Imagine a home security company tying delivery of a message whenever there is a stolen base, or a pain medication company delivering ads tied to big hits in an NHL game.” Chris Reynolds, CEO of OneTwoSee.

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MLB viewers can forget second screen apps while watching baseball games- the TV can do all the work for you. These advanced analytics and stats work seamlessly with each game and give fans a more in-depth understanding of the game. This is truly a step forward in innovative fan engagment which can benefit all partners involved. The amount of information available to marketers through these applications makes it incredibly easy for marketers to connect with fans in a variety of creative ways.

The possibilities of this type of application are endless and can be used for all sports. So watch this space as I expect more innovations to becoming to the sports fan through this medium.




Posted in Broadcast, Tech, US Sport0 Comments

Ball Street and Papa Johns give fans a slice of the action for the run in

Ball Street and Papa Johns give fans a slice of the action for the run in

This is the most exciting climax to a football season in years.  With so much still to play for, Ball Street and Papa John’s have teamed up to guide fans through the run in with a weekly digital football show — 451.   Like any good football underdog story, Ball Street are going up against opponents with bigger budgets, all while entertaining fans up and down the country.

The 451 show delivered by Papa John’s, the official partner of the Football League covers all four leagues and features a mix of passionate fans and footballing insiders such as Ian Wright, Clinton Morrison and the Football Ramble’s Marcus Speller.

451 is a free weekly show, starting on 17th April until the end of the season and will be available on and syndicated to leading football sites including Caught Offside and Football Fancast.

“Everything these days is about the Premier League but we know there are clubs and fans out there that outside of the top teams that deserve the same kind of treatment,” said Wright, who started his career at Crystal Palace.

Matt Wilson (co-founder of Ball Street) said, “We are a delighted to work with a sponsor who not only a sponsor the Football League, but want to do something meaningful for its fans.  The 451 show is the only place where Luis Suarez and Lee Tomlin will get equal billing”

Speaking about 451 Andrew Gallagher, senior director of marketing for Papa John’s, said: “We very excited to be working with Ball Street to produce 451. We know that from our sponsorship of the Football League how passionate football fans, and our customers, are about the national game.

“Papa John’s is proud to be supporting a show that will give all fans a voice as we reach the sharp end of the season. Ball Street has lined up an incredible team to present the show, and we can’t wait for kick off to see Ian Wright, Matt Holland and a host of other star names in action when 451 goes live.”

Ball Street 451 show trailer….

YouTube Preview Image


Posted in Football, YouTube0 Comments

Football Companion Squawka Strike Strategic Investment with Global Sports Group, Doyen

Football Companion Squawka Strike Strategic Investment with Global Sports Group, Doyen

London-based startup Squawka has announced a significant investment and partnership with global sports group Doyen to speed up business operations, increase international expansion and enhance platform development as they seek to provide football fans with the ideal digital companion to follow their teams.

Originally launched as a second screen powered by live data visualisations and social media for the 2012 European Football Championships; Squawka has now expanded into a comprehensive 24/7 experience for fans of the world’s biggest sport.

Squawka provides fans with latest news, stats, game analysis, social media, live blogs, and images as well as cutting edge real-time data comparison tools to help fans understand and enjoy the game as a second screen experience.

Squawka receives nearly 2 million monthly unique users across both its site and the Squawka Football App on iOS with average dwell times of 39 minutes during live English Premier League games. The app is also generating huge engagement figures with over 10 screens viewed per user session.

Existing Squawka investors include Forward Internet Group Founder Neil Hutchinson, brand guru Sir John Hegarty and Spark Ventures chairman Tom Teichman.  In addition, Squawka will be joined by one of the most experienced teams in sport at Doyen.

Doyen Global was launched in April 2013 by Simon Oliveira and Matthew Kay, two former Senior Executives from Creative Artists Agency and XIX Entertainment.  Their first move was an image rights partnership with Brazilian sensation Neymar.

Since then the company has moved at a fast pace building a diverse portfolio from Exec Producing Box Office hit, ‘Class of 92’ to partnering with tennis legend, Boris Becker, Spanish football legend Xavi amongst others.  This week they announced a partnership with Manchester United teen prodigy Adnan Januzaj.

Simon Oliveira remains a key strategist in David Beckham’s team managing the icon’s communications strategy for ten years. At XIX he also worked across the management of Lewis Hamilton and Andy Murray. Matthew Kay is one of the leading professionals in sports marketing who, whilst at CAA, managed the commercial strategy of global sports stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho amongst others.  Prior to that, Kay was Commercial Director of Football at IMG. Both Oliveira and Kay will be joining the Squawka board.

“At a time when general VC interest in the sports sector has been significant, we have been working hard to bring together a team of like-minded strategic investors that can help propel Squawka to become a household name for football fans. By focusing on the business metrics alongside the incredible strategic value of the board we feel we have a real shot of becoming the de facto multi-device companion for football fans globally.  We are excited to work with Doyen going forward.” - Squawka CEO and co-founder Sanjit Atwal


Posted in Football, Tech0 Comments

Startup helping sports teams and brands connect with Chinese fans

Startup helping sports teams and brands connect with Chinese fans

KAWO, a social media management tool that helps businesses repurpose and automate existing social media content onto Chinese channels like Weibo and WeChat, has officially launched a specialized page targeting the sports industry to deliver Chinese social media to their clients.

Although the sports market in China is taking off, with particular growth in sport leagues like the NFL and UFC, since key social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are blocked, it’s difficult for athletes, teams, leagues, and agencies around the world to tap into the huge spending power of Chinese sports fans and maximize exposure to commercial opportunities.

Founded by Australian entrepreneur Andrew Collins, the Shanghai-based social media agency gives brands digital access to over 600 million people by automatically pulling their existing Facebook and Twitter content onto a central dashboard, where moderators translate and then push it via KAWO directly on a brand’s Chinese social network accounts.

KAWO dashboard

Benefits include;

  • Transparency: A single dashboard gives brands complete control and an overview of all their networks, as well as athletes, teams, or leagues.
  • Exclusive Sports Insight: Includes case studies, resources, and materials to sell social media with a punch.
  • Protection: The system is supported by KAWO Protect, a system with a blend of automated flagging and experienced human moderation, that screens potentially sensitive content for the Chinese market.
  • Competitor Intelligence: Keep track of competitive fan accounts, engagement, trending posts and measure your performance against theirs.

The International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB) is an association who have been one of the first to use the new platform;

“Thanks to KAWO, Chinese fans can connect with us on social media, and the FIVB is well on its way to achieving its social media mission to be the sport’s official commentator, form relationships with fans, influence behavior and engage an audience to bring the spectacular sport of volleyball to China.”

With brands, teams, associations and athletes all looking at ways in which they can access most easily this huge sports market, this could be a step in the right direction for some. It is an unknown market to many but the recognition at the top end of it’s importance means that agencies such as KAWO are positioning themselves in the right place and at the right time.

They are already being used by the likes of Manchester United, International Table Tennis Federation, Liverpool FC and Mercedes AMG.


Posted in Social Media, Sport0 Comments

Arsenal launches official YouTube channel

Arsenal launches official YouTube channel

Arsenal Football Club is starting an official channel on YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing platform.

The channel will give the Club’s supporters around the world the opportunity to view new and engaging content. Exclusive features will be created for the Arsenal channel, all showing the character of the Club and the personality of the players. Popular features such as the Chat, Twitter Takeover, Arsenal Ink will be released via the platform.

Supporters can access additional exclusives and content through the Gunners’ other sites and outlets which include Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Soundcloud, WeChat, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.

As a prelude to the launch of the official YouTube launch, Arsenal’s YouTube channel was active for just over two weeks last summer and in that time streamed almost 20 years of footage to supporters all over the world. A video of Arsenal fan Vu Xuan Tien chasing after the team coach in Vietnam went viral, with over 3million views through the official page..

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Richard Clarke, Managing Editor for the Arsenal Media Group said:

“An official Arsenal channel on YouTube will allow us to reach a new audience and tell the story of the Club in a different way. We hope YouTube will help us show the character of our special club and grow our global fan base.”

Stephen Nuttall, Senior Director for Sport at YouTube said:

“300 of the top football clubs in the world run official channels on YouTube. The success of the Arsenal channel during the summer demonstrates the Club’s potential to build a great presence on YouTube”.  

The new channel can be found at

YouTube Preview Image


Posted in Football, YouTube1 Comment

3 (great) reasons to head to Digital Sport Manchester next week

3 (great) reasons to head to Digital Sport Manchester next week

Next week is a big week for us here at UK Sports Network. After heading up to Glasgow last month for our first ever event up there, we’re now going to be doing the same in Manchester.

“But why should I go” I hear you say. Well I believe there are 3 main reasons that you should head along, not even counting that we’re the only community that’s been set up solely for those who work within digital media for sports teams, federations, agencies and tech companies.

Reason 1

The line up of speakers I think is our best yet and we’re cramming a lot into half a day.  Not only do we have presentations from the likes of British Cycling, Manchester Metropolitan University, deltatre, Stream UK and Capsool but also panels made up of digital people from Leeds Rugby, BBC Sport, Everton FC, Man City FC and PERFORM.

We’ll be covering topics that are both general and specific, giving a fantastic look into what is both happening with within digital sport and what we is coming around the corner soon. There are talk titles such as; “Digital in Sport: Disrupting and levelling the playing field“, “Not just racing but riding: how British Cycling is building communities of real cycling fans, and real cyclists“, “The Digital Paralympics, from London to Sochi” and “CityStories: The Social History of Manchester City Football Club“.

Reason 2 (and 2 1/2)

We like to do things a little differently here than most events organisers (who wants to do the same thing all the time eh?). So instead of booking a sports venue or hotel, we’re going to be heading to TechHub Manchester. A shared working space and community for tech entrepreneurs and start-ups, something we see ourselves as being.

This type of venue provides for a more stimulating and relaxed atmosphere for the event. Being part of this vibrant community even for only half a day will hopefully help provide an environment that is both inspiring and fun to be part of.

Not only will you get all this when you come along but we’ve also been working on something to present ourselves. At the start of day I’ll be showcasing our new website, built with the great guys at Storystream who will also be in the crowd,  that will eventually take over from the current UK Sports Network site. It’s not only a new site but a new name and a new brand. Exciting times!

Reason 3

Another big reason people head to these events is to meet and chat with other people in the industry. So if this is your aim for heading along then you can expect to find people from;

  • IBM
  • Amaze
  • Kwangl
  • BR101 Sports
  • European Handball Federation
  • Manchester Futsal Club
  • Manchester United FC
  • Opta
  • Scarlets Rugby
  • 2ergo
  • Red Bull
  • Sky Sports
  • Prozone Sports
  • Two Circles
  • Intechnology Wifi
  • …. and many more

So if you’re interested in heading along there is still time to pick up a ticket. Prices are £50 + booking fee for standard tickets and £25 + booking fee for students.  You get yours now by heading to…

We look forward to seeing you there!




Posted in Digital, Events, Sport0 Comments

Major League Baseball Hits A Home Run with Digital

Major League Baseball Hits A Home Run with Digital

Guest Post: Charlotte Males is the Founder of Sports Intern UK. She is a firm believer that Digital and Sport have a lot to learn from each other and is excited to see where this partnership can lead. A big fan of US sport, you can contact her at @charliemales.

With a brand new Major League Baseball season underway, comes brand new digital tech for baseball fans. Although traditionally the American pastime has been left behind when it comes to digital enhancements, the 2014 season has changed all that.

Team and league officials have been working hard all pre-season to implement plans to capitalise on all the new technologies coming in this season. The new improvements are set throughout the MLB and range from improving the fan experience at the ball park to potential changing the game forever.

Instant Replay

First up is the introduction of instant replay at the stadium. MLB is joining the like of Tennis, Cricket and Rugby by giving teams the right to challenge an umpire’s call they disagree with.  Like all new has already come with teething problems. But the technology used has undeniably changed the game forever.

All 30 teams in the MLB unanimously voted for the implementation of the instant-replay system and all 30 ballparks have used standardised technology. The MLB have ensured that the same 12 camera angels will be available for the replay officials.  All instant replied reviews will come from a command centre in New York, where there are 12 screens lining the back wall with live feeds from every MLB ballpark.


The most exciting addition to the 2014 Major League Baseball season is the implementation of Apple’s iBeacon technology. The iBeacon technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to communicate with iPhones’ by expanding location services in iOS. Basically, it’s an extremely useful marketing tool that lets apps know when a fan has approached or leave the presence of an iBeacon.

The iBeacon is available on all iPhones’ with iOS 7 installed. In order to use this technology fans need to be using’s At The Ballpark iOS app. The app already allows fans to access electronically, and with the use of iBeacon, ballpark goers will be able to receive directions to their phones about which gate to use and how to get to their seats. Although the app is available on both Android and iOS devices, only those will Apple devices will benefit from the bespoke iBeacon experience.

Through the use of iBeacon, the potential uses of the technology will be up to the MLB teams. However, one example of what fans can expect are being sent discounts on concession, sales and shopping items when you walk into the team shop.


Currently, the MLB league officials are directing clubs on where teams can implement the technology and what can and cannot be sent to fans. As for now, fans receive a welcome message when they check in (think of Foursquare), and maybe an offer to upgrade their seat or some discounts on concessions.  However, there is an expectation that the MLB will let team become more creative with the technology once the iBeacon has proved useful to fans.

For the San Francisco Giants, the technology is just another way to better engage with fans. “Mobile and digital experiences are paramount to our fan experience,” according to Chief Information Officer, Bill Schlough. The Giants have long been the most technologically progressive teams in baseball and even other sports clubs.

During the early 2000s, Giant’s fans first enjoyed in-stadium mobile phone coverage. And in 2004 the MLB club became the first in professional sports history to turn its stadium into a complete WiFi hotspot. Currently, there are 1,289 WiFi antennas covering the San Francisco Giants AT&T Park with connectivity that’s good enough to stream video to thousands of fans.


Posted in Digital, Tech, US Sport0 Comments

Could Chromecast be the Perfect Partner for UK Sport?

Could Chromecast be the Perfect Partner for UK Sport?

Guest Post: Ben Warren is a 1st class honours graduate in Sports Marketing from the University of Northampton with a keen interest in digital innovation within UK and US sport.

Having experienced excellent figures at launch in the UK last month, Google’s latest offering has formed a partnership with the BT Sport platform. If other companies followed suit, could this promote more freedom in the way fans consume sport?

The Google Chromecast is small device that slots into any UK television set via a HDMI port, and allows users to ‘beam’ content from any device, such as a tablet or PC, to their set-top box. According to, U.K. electronics retailer Currys sold a Chromecast every 4.5 seconds on launch day, leading to comparisons with the launch of the iPad.

BT Sport have clearly shown faith in the product, and believe that this could open up new sectors in the marketplace. Pete Oliver, managing director of BT’s Consumer Commercial and Marketing, said,

“Chromecast has been a tremendous success in the US and we feel it could take off in the UK as well. We are already delivering BT Sport via our App and we are seeing some impressive viewing figures, which demonstrates that customers appreciate this option.

“Customers with Chromecast will be able to enjoy the BT Sport App, which is free with broadband from BT, on a large screen, allowing customers to cast a Barclays Premier League match to their TV, rather than watching on a smaller screen. This helps us to deliver on our aim to bring the best quality sport to BT customers at affordable prices across a wide number of platforms and devices.”

That is clearly a crucial factor here, and with an RRP of £30, it is clear Google are doing everything to make this a tool in everyone’s household.

The main excitement from the consumer perspective should come from increased freedom and accessibility. With Sport being such a lucrative package for television companies, tight restrictions are often in place with services such as Sky Go and Virgin Anywhere. These companies limit the number of devices you can watch on, and often only allow device changes at specified intervals.

If these companies were to get on board with Chromecast, they would have to find a balance. Imagine having a mobile phone, for example, and beaming live Premier League action to any TV in proximity of the phone. Whether it be a friend’s house or a hotel room, one could replicate the traditional entertainment set-up at the touch of a button.

If the past is anything to go by, BT Sport may be the only company willing to take a plunge into the Chromecast pool. Although the user would need a subscription to the service, they could argue it would be taken advantage of. If they decide to use the technology, however, the avenues to consume sport may just become that little bit wider.


bt sport

Posted in Broadcast, Sport, Tech0 Comments

Betfair helping fans to pick a Grand National winner with Equinder

Betfair helping fans to pick a Grand National winner with Equinder

It’s always difficult to back the right horse… BETFAIR has taken inspiration from dating phenomenon Tinder, to help find the perfect ride

Online betting company, Betfair, has launched ‘Equinder’ for those in need of a helping hand in selecting the ultimate Mare or Gelding for the Grand National, there’s even a chance for the fan of the more mature partner.

In a further move to provide people with an innovative experience of betting on major sporting moments, Betfair has created a web-based mobile app that brings the positivity around online dating to the heart of the Grand National.

Rather than randomly selecting your Grand National runner or simply backing the favourite, Betfair allows users to enter details, including their favoured football team and uses a cross matching algorithm that pairs them with the most relevant horse in the big race. People then have the option to swipe right or left, accepting or rejecting their match before being given the opportunity to place a bet.

As people find ever more strange ways of selecting a horse for the famous steeple chase, Betfair has found a way to encapsulate the fun and excitement of the Grand National into an easy to use social platform that ensures every horse can find its perfect partner.

Betfair has even created a secret profile on Tinder offering free bets to those who stumble across the ‘Betfair horse’ as it journeys up to Aintree. Users that stumble across the correct profile will be sent a set of instructions to receive a free bet. This way even the loneliest soul could end up a winner.

“At Betfair, we consistently endeavour to create innovative and thrilling betting experiences for our customers, as well as attracting new users, and what better way to help people select their horse for the Grand National than creating a new Tinder style web app. We’ve seen how easy it is for people to find a stallion or a filly online, so we wanted to bring the same sense of fun and ease to the National.” - Harry Phillips, Consumer PR Manager



Posted in Brands, Digital0 Comments

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