THE CHANGING BUSINESS OF SPORTS
Powered by:Mike McCarthy, Reporter, Blogger and Columnist, Sporting News and Sports Illustrated, United States
Casey Wasserman, Chairman and CEO, Wasserman Media Group, United States
Christophe Charlier, Member of the Board of Directors of Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, United States
Tucker Kain, CFO, Los Angeles Dodgers, Managing Director, Guggenheim Baseball Management, United States
Dan Shell, Vice President, Fox Sports
“Sports has never been more popular,” said moderator Mike McCarthy. Television ratings continue to soar to never-seen-before levels, media rights fetch mind-boggling sums of money, while consumers at home demand ever more from broadcasters and the technology industry.
“Not only in terms of popularity but also from an economic standpoint and a value standpoint, sports is the biggest part of the media business,” Casey Wasserman, Chairman and CEO of the Wasserman Media Group, confirmed.
With that in mind, it would be easy to assume that the symbiotic relationship between sports and business is enjoying a golden age.
But that is not necessarily so, with all members of the panel agreeing that the issue of luring spectators to attend live games when high-quality media coverage is already so widespread represented perhaps the most significant challenge to the industry.
Dan Shell, Vice President of Fox Sports, stressed that people nowadays want more bang for their buck, and the difficulties in attending live matches such as queueing and parking issues often deterred people.
He stated that 96% of NFL fans would never attend a live match in their lifetime. That, coupled with the huge sums of money associated with television deals, meant that the standard of media coverage had to be of an uncompromisingly high standard – inevitably and directly threatening match attendances.
“If you were doing things solely based on economics, you would probably just build a stadium with no seats in it and have the best TV viewing place of all time, because that’s where the dollars are,” he said only half-jokingly.
Tucker Kain, CFO of Los Angeles Dodgers, agreed, stressing the need for stadia to provide a unique environment in which to enjoy sports which could not be replicated via a screen.
“You can create environments, unforgettable moments and opportunities for people to interact with their team that they can’t get at home.”
Christophe Charlier, a Member of the Board of Directors of Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, branded the problem ‘competing against the couch’.
He said it was at the forefront of the planning and building of the Barclays Centre, which incorporates everything from live music to carpets to ensure a high-quality experience.
“It’s a nightclub, it’s a lounge, it’s a museum,” he said. “It’s just a great place to go.”
Other topics touched upon by the panel included the ‘second-screen phenomenon’ – the preference of many attending live games to re-watch the action on their cell phones or tablets seconds after it has occurred.
The role of social media was also discussed, while they concluded by agreeing that the emerging popularity of soccer and the MLS had the potential to be the market’s next game-changer in the coming decade.