Tag Archives: Sport

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The Sports Technology Awards – Celebrating the Sector’s Cutting Edge

Even the most casual of sports fan cannot fail to have noticed the increasing influence technology has on sport and for people at the sharp end of the industry, this influence is even more significant.

The coaches, referees, broadcasters and athletes who are immersed daily in sport, prosper hugely from technology’s offerings and so it’s only right that the people behind the innovations are justly recognized.

In a year that has seen a World Cup, an Olympics, a Commonwealth Games and a Ryder Cup as well as the launch of new initiatives such as Formula E, there have been some stand-out uses of technology. The introduction of goal line technology at the World Cup finals caused headlines before the tournament, whilst vanishing foam captured audiences’ attention during the contest.

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Ryder Cup update: fans encouraged to use social media.. in most places

Following recent articles, including by yours truly, about the Ryder Cup not allowed ticket holders to upload images or video to social media during the tournament, the Ryder Cup team have come out with an announcement to clear things up.

Social media interaction, photography and the sharing of content are all going to be encouraged at The 2014 Ryder Cup, according to the organisers. Though not everywhere on the course.

Ryder Cup Europe has moved to reassure spectators that they will be allowed to take photos and video on their mobile phones during the event, and will be encouraged to share their experiences on social networks.

A range of initiatives are already in place for visitors to engage with when they arrive at the event. This includes the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which will allow spectators to take part in fun activities around the course and share their experiences instantly on social media using a special wristband.

Ryder Cup Europe has also been working with the Scottish Government and mobile phone providers to provide ultrafast 4G wireless connections across the venue.

But organisers have rules in place for spectators on the course at Gleneagles in order to avoid disrupting players and the experience of other spectators. This is where it will still be hard for officials to police…

The use of cameras (and phones?) will be prohibited at each hole during play in order to avoid disrupting players and to enable a clear line of sight for all spectators, many of whom will be standing or sitting around the course rather than in a raised position in a grandstand.

Edward Kitson, Match Director of The 2014 Ryder Cup, said:

“We want people to share their stories online and feel part of The Ryder Cup. We have put in place a range of fantastic activities in the tented village and around the course that use technology to improve the visitor experience, and these are integrated with social networks. Selfies are positively encouraged and I expect to see plenty of them during the event.

 “However, I’m sure everyone will understand that we have to draw a line in the interests of fair play and respect for the players and fellow spectators. Therefore no photography or video will be allowed during play at any hole. This is something we fully expect everyone to support given that The Ryder Cup is won and lost on very fine margins: we want to give the teams every chance of a level playing field and ensure everyone can see the action.”

 Hopefully it will go smoothly but I imagine stopped people taking pictures of the final moments of the tournament will be exceptionally tough. It’s understandable that people trying to get a shot of their favourite player can be enormously off putting to said player, indeed there have been arguments between players and photographers/spectators about this for many years. It’s not just come about through the widespread use of social media.

Hopefully everything will go smoothly on the day, and fingers crossed for another victory for Europe!

#CoolJob: Business Development Executive @ We Play

About We Play

We Play are a results driven social media agency that specialises in commercialising the relationship between brands and sports fans.

Founded by young entrepreneur Luca Massaro (ex Chelsea FC/Target Media/Gumtree), with the vision to become the leading sport social media agency. We Play’s clients include 888sport, Moneygram, WhoScored.com, Sportlobster.com, Fantasy League, Yonex, Fieldoo, Ultimate Fan Live, Matchpint, London FA and the Amateur FA.

The team at We Play is young, motivated and the Central London office is fast-paced. This role requires someone determined and entrepreneurial with the ambition to succeed at the highest level.

What is the Role?

We are looking for an enthusiastic and energetic sports fan with experience within a sales environment. This person will be working within the current business development team to assist in generating new business from prospective clients. The role:

  • Identifying leads
  • Evaluating the social strategies of potential clients
  • Managing the company’s client acquisition strategy and CRM database
  • Calling prospective clients to promote our services
  • Arrange meetings aimed at securing new client acquisition
  • Hitting weekly outreach targets
  • Pitch development and execution

Requirements

  • Undergraduate degree at (2:1) level or above
  • 2+ years experience in sales and marketing environment
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Must have knowledge of sector and a track record for sales
  • Database of relevant industry contacts
  • Proficient knowledge of digital marketing and social media
  • Passionate sports fan with knowledge of multiple sports
  • Desire to develop self and go further than what is asked
  • A hunger for the industry and in achieving against set targets
  • Be motivated to attend regular networking events
  • Ability to work in a small team whilst also be self-directed and manage own tasks and responsibilities

Nice-to-haves

  • Table Tennis and Pool skills
  • Strong sense of humour and a good level of banter

To apply for this role please send your CV and a covering letter to hello@weplay.co. – Good luck!

 

A Timeline of Technology in Sport

GUEST POST: Joe Struggles is a freelance writer and Content Marketing Executive working on behalf of Farnell.

After enjoying a lengthy summer of sport, with the World Cup, Wimbledon, the Commonwealth Games and the imminent opening weekend of the English Premier League, it’s quite clear sport has come a long way since using jumpers for goalposts and shirts or skins for sides.

A somewhat of a sporting Svengali for progress came from France’s No. 10 Karim Benzema in Brazil, who broke Honduran hearts after aiding in the first-ever goal to be awarded at a major tournament using Goal-line Technology. Not only did this refuel the debate over whether technology is helping or hindering sport, but it raised questions over whether to blow the whistle on game gadgetry after taking it too far.

Taking a glance at cricket, particularly at when English rose Stuart Broad failed to walk after an apparent edge against the Aussies at the 2013 Ashes, there have been conflicting opinions on the reliability of Hot Spot, which, despite being implemented since 2006, was withdrawn from play after the tournament. Nowadays, the ever-reliant Hawk Eye backs the Snickometer at the crease, but for how long until another teammate walks?

On the defending team there are a string of sports where technology is seen as a saviour, such as the case of Hawk Eye in tennis – as we’re sure John McEnroe will probably agree. Wide-eyed empires, once subjected to endless scrutiny after making almost inhuman split-second decisions, were saved by accurate, indisputable results and the game still benefits today.

As with many aspects of sport, the introduction of newer, more advanced technologies must be tweaked, tuned and trained with trial and error. However with so many technologies being brought in and shipped out, this handy visualisation from http://uk.farnell.com/ is a great way of keeping on top of these technological transfers, including those with potential after some one-to-one management or those who should hang up their boots for the good of the game.

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New Second Screen Fantasy Football App enables viewers to interact with World Cup matches in Real Time

Ultimate Fan Live yesterday announced a new free mobile app that offers fans a social way to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Fans who are not able to attend the World Cup in Brazil this summer can play the second screen fantasy football game using any iOS device. Instead of just watching on TV, Ultimate Fan Live players can compete in real time against their Facebook friends in a second screen game that syncs with the live match.

The unique mobile app provides a platform in which up to five friends compete against each other during live matches. They pick players and earn points based on players’ live performance on the pitch. In this way, friends engage with the game in real time and compete to top the Ultimate Fan Live ranks.

“Football viewing is no longer solely a passive spectator experience. Fantasy Football games are outdated, appealing only to hardcore fans that invest for an entire season. The promise of second screen offers an exciting new way to enjoy the World Cup with your friends.” – Sohail Godall, CEO and founder of Ultimate Fan Live.

Unlike traditional fantasy football leagues, Ultimate Fan Live can be used for short 90-minute games, so players do not need to commit for an entire season. It will enable millions of World Cup viewers around the world to have an even deeper level of enjoyment of matches as they try to follow the players in their game and not just those with the ball.

Philip Kelly-Ayo, an engineer who has been one of the app’s beta testers commented: “As Ultimate Fan Live is based on real data it offers a level of social connectivity and a deeper investment in the match being broadcast. It’s also a great source of banter with my friends!”

Ultimate Fan Live is available globally from the App Store for all iOS devices from 10th June 2014 for all 2014 FIFA World Cup live matches.

Event: The Impact of Digital Technology and Social Media on Sport

On Monday 23rd June I’ll have the pleasure of being on a panel as part of Birkbeck University’s Business Week (which runs from 23rd – 26th). The panel, as the title suggests, is quite a broad one but will mainly be looking at the ‘mega sport events’ such as London 2012 and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. It’s an event I’m really looking forward to, there are more details on it below…

You can get more details on the event and find the booking link (it’s free to attend) on http://www.bbk.ac.uk/bizweek

Digital technology and social media are playing an increasingly important role in the business of sport, particularly in the management of sports events. This keynote and panel session will discuss contemporary usage and possible future trends in digital technology and social media in sport. The keynote speaker, Richard Ayers, is the founder and CEO of Seven League, a digital media firm with a specialism in sport. He has worked as Head of Digital for Manchester City FC and is also proud to have helped Channel 4 with their digital coverage of the Paralympics 2012.

Richard will discuss his rich experience in the field, drawing on his knowledge of music, film, newspapers and publishing, as well as sport. In particular, he will examine:

  • the capacity sports organisations have to facilitate and moderate engagement from various audiences;
  • the ways in which social media can be used for the good of sport; and
  • issues around data visualisation and ‘datatainment’.

Panel discussion

The panel members will each introduce themselves, explain their backgrounds and views on digital technology and social media and discuss how these technologies were used in London 2012 and how they are being (and will be) used in Rio. In particular, the panellists will discuss what the challenges are that sports organisations and host cities face in this field. There will also be an opportunity for a lively question-and-answer session.

Panel members

  • Alex Balfour: Former Chief Digital Officer at the Engine Group and Head of New Media at LOCOG
  • Tom Thirwall: CEO, Bigballs Films
  • Dan McLaren: Founder and Editor-in-Chief, UK Sports Network
  • Gill Leivesley: Management Consultant, Takeout
  • George Rousoss: Professor of Pervasive Computing, Birkbeck (CS & IS)

Topics will include the ability of sports organisations to facilitate and moderate engagement from various audiences, the ways in which social media can be used for the good of sport and challenges around data visualisation and ‘datatainment’.

http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/business-week-tickets-11462481591

 

 

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 Gigaom.com, 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.

 

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The Global Sports Symposium: 15th May

This summer a new conference will be gracing our diaries, The Global Sports Symposium.

The Global Sports Symposium, which is being presented by the same team behind the US-based Ivy Sports Symposium (Sports Symposium, Inc.), this student-run event, will bring together the leading decision-makers of the industry for a day of networking, discourse and learning.  The organization is excited to be expanding internationally by hosting the first GSS in partnership with Arsenal FC and Emirates Stadium.

“One of my top goals when assuming the role of Executive Director was finding a way to take our event international,” said Sports Symposium Executive Director Alex Rosen. “The Symposium family cannot wait to share the unique experience of attending one of our events with both students and professionals at the world-class Emirates Stadium.”

Established in 2006, Sports Symposium, Inc. is a student-run, non-profit organization that sets the standard for sports business education.  In their eight-year history, events have featured more than 300 unique speakers from around the world representing all facets of the sports business.

Past speakers from the event have included:

  • Gary Bettman, Commissioner, National Hockey League
  • Tom Verducci, Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated
  • Arn Tellem, Vice Chairman and President, Team Sports, Wasserman Media Group
  • Wyc Grousbeck, Chief Executive Officer, Boston Celtics
  • Lisa Baird, CMO, United States Olympic Committee
  • Peter Moore, President, EA Sports

The Sports Symposium has traditionally welcomed student attendees from over 60 colleges and universities and professional delegates from a wide range of companies.  Its intimate setting combined with engaging content and dynamic speakers have made it a “must attend” event every year.

Confirmed speakers so far are:

  • Bob Reeves (President, RFU)
  • Chuck Baker (Partner, DLA Piper)
  • Matthew Baxter (Chief of Media, Liverpool FC)
  • Mark Lamping (President, Jacksonville Jaguars)
  • Marc Reeves (International Commercial Director, NFL)
  • Stephen Nuttall (Senior Director, Sports YouTube EMEA)
  • Tom Fox (Chief Commercial Officer, Arsenal)

The symposium promises to bring a 360 degree view of the Sports Business world, with talks and panels representing all aspects of the business. However, it comes with a nice twist as it’s aimed at both seasoned professionals and those who want to enter the business.

“Throughout the planning process the student-run team has received positive feedback from the industry leaders it has reached out to.  We believe this is a testament to the US-based Ivy Sports Symposium that has attracted top industry names over the course of its eight-year history. We are expecting similar successes for this first event in the UK and continue to get excited as we move forward with our planning.”– Harriet Thayer, 2014 Global Sports Symposium Co-Chair

The 1st annual Global Sports Symposium (“GSS”) takes place on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at Emirates Stadium in London. The registration page can be accessed from: http://www.sportssymposium.org or here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/global-sports-symposium-emirates-stadium-tickets-10440779653

 

How Important is it for Sports Brands to be ‘Reactive’ on Social Media?

Guest Post: Krishan Majithia is a Social Media Executive at sports social media agency We Play. He is an FA level 2 qualified coach at Headstone Manor as well as being the brains behind ‘Tactical Sunder‘. Follow him at @krishm91

The age of social media has allowed brands to become closer to ‘real time’ conversations, giving them direct access to a world-wide consumer base. Real time Social Media sites such as Twitter allow brands to engage with fans and potential customers by joining in conversations about sport and reacting to events when they happen.

Of course, this access has cast forward the importance of hiring experts to manage social media activity, as mistakes can have immediate consequences, which become the subject of public humiliation and social media can quickly go from a brand’s most useful marketing tool, to its ultimate downfall.

The dynamism of social media and the vast number of platforms from which it can be accessed, means that fans and consumers expect more than basic advertising content from brands. The real-time nature of social media means that these brands can communicate and share innovative messages (at the click of a button) within relevant ‘hype-circles’.

When a technical error meant that only four Olympic rings showed up during the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, an advert supposedly from Audi emerged with the tagline “When four rings is all you need”. As it turned out the advert, which can be seen below was not real, however, this was the epitome of ‘reactive advertising’ and was shared 1000’s of times with calls by Audi fans for it to be made into an official Audi advert.

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Another slightly different example was after Andy Murray won the ‘Sports Personality of the Year Award’ in December, his sponsors- Adidas- took the opportunity to poke fun at the Tennis superstar, using the combined hype of the award trending on Twitter, with a bold, yet tongue-in-cheek tweet to advertise the adidas brand, stating that his achievement was “Not bad for a man with no personality”.

 

This was likely not strictly reactive, but was created weeks before the award on the chance of the Scotsman won. However, it was released at an opportune time, providing a humorous alternative to the saturated messages of congratulations that were lost amongst the trending topic on Twitter, something that is key to implementing reactive adverts.

This idea of using humour is one of the most popular uses of reactive marketing and provides a key platform for making your brand’s message stand out. Arguably, such a policy is even more useful when used off the back of a seemingly negative event, such as Oreo’s ‘Dunk in the Dark’ tweet after the blackout in last years Superbowl, or Specsavers clever connection between the North and South Korean flags being mixed up during the Olympics, and their “Should have gone to Specsavers” slogan.

It is often consumer goods brands, such as the two above that use sporting events as a catalyst to launch reactive advertising, so why should it not be the same for sports brands?

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What can be learnt? 

Sports is arguably one of the toughest industries within which to operate, due to the high level of brand loyalty. This is especially true for sports clubs, who may take the approach of stronger engagement with fans, rather than traditional advertising techniques. After all, somebody is not going to simply change the sports team they support, just because of an impressive marketing campaign.

However, even sports clubs can use a form of reactive advertising. Last week, Everton were the talk of social media after inviting Malaysian fan, Ric Wee (who had come to watch the Toffees for the first time) to meet the players and coaching staff after their match against Crystal Palace was called off. The story went viral, with fans of all teams congratulating the club for showing their human side.

There is of course a lot that all football clubs do behind the scenes that does not necessarily gain the same notoriety, so what made this particular story go viral? Fans saw this story unfolding in real time and the club reacted within minutes to find Mr. Wee. It was spur of the moment, and that made it special. This will not only bring the existing fans closer to the club, but from a business point of view, could also help to attract both new fans in emerging countries, as well as sponsorship opportunities from companies who see the club trending on social media.

The key for sports brands utilising reactive advertising is to be aware of what is going on in the world. Whilst it is important to have a pro-active rather than reactive strategy for every day social media engagement, brands should not allow themselves to switch off and miss the opportunity to strike advertising gold when something out of the ordinary occurs.