First-and-Goal: Winning with Digital Monetization

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the Networking Exchange Blog on July 13, 2012. To celebrate the Labor Day holiday and the much-anticipated start of football season, we are republishing this post on digital trends in the sports industry.

During my time in “The Big Apple” checking out the Digital Content Monetization (DCM) East Conference recently,  I wanted to get a broad view of how entertainment and media companies – whether they be publishers, film studios, radio or network broadcasters – are evolving in the digital world.  The conference kicked off with the 3rd Annual DCM East Sports Summit, which included digital strategies around the “second screen” from ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Sports; The Boston Celtics; New York Giants; and The NJ Devils.

Marc Horine, Vice President, Digital Partnerships & Revenue Development at ESPN, took center stage talking through the basic building blocks of the ESPN digital strategy.  First and foremost, the message was to focus on the customer.  The customer — or the fan in this case — is number one, and ESPN wants to serve all of them anytime and anywhere.

Mr. Horine said, “It’s all about delivering the right products and/or quality content with a balanced, elegant, and impactful advertising experience.”  But ESPN is not relying on its advertising alone through The company is also looking at other areas, like ESPN insider, where for a small fee, you can subscribe to premium content and become the expert in the majors or gain valuable insights to help you manage your fantasy team.  Another example is the recently launched ESPN W, exclusively for women in sports to get the latest on emerging stories coming out of the London 2012 Olympic Games, professional and college sports coverage, and conversations with their favorite female athletes.

These are just some of the digital strategies that ESPN has implemented. When you look at the big picture, it’s all about knowing who your customers are, what they like, what they want for free, what they are willing to pay for, and of course where they want to see it!!!

Now we all know that mobile subscribers continue to climb, but as Mary Meeker, Partner, Kliener Perkins Caufield & Byers, put it in her recent article, Mary Meeker Explains the Mobile Monetization Challenge, “Looming over the Internet industry is the mismatch between the growth in mobile usage and mobile monetization.”

As you can see by the graph in this post, these firms have to balance current advertising revenue from TV with the smartphone phenomenon.

We can see that monetization will take some time to crystalize in the mobile world, and companies like ESPN, CBS, TBS, FOX, NBC and others are evolving their strategies for this shift that is inevitable.  They stand poised to be the big winners here, but why? Well all have to execute with perfection and make sure they are hitting the right target market, but in the end these firms own the rights to their content.

In an earlier post, I reiterated that content is king, and for sports franchises like the Celtics or the NY Giants, they don’t have the rights to the content.  Since the NFL, the cable companies, and other broadcasters have the rights, what is a franchise supposed to do?  How do they monetize in this complex world?

Peter Stringer, Director, Interactive Media of the Boston Celtics and Doug Smoyer, Vice President, Business Development, New York Giants, took part in the panel discussion where they talked about their digital strategies to grow the brand and monetize their content.  The Celtics executed an online game called, “the three-point play” through Facebook, where fans compete by selecting players based upon anticipated points, rebounds, and assists and where winners claim their prize.  The New York Giants put together a game plan around game-day programs, like fans voting for the NY Giant “Extra Effort” in order to drive fan interaction and the sharing of game-day content from pre-season games in which they had exclusive rights.

The game has really just started, and the outcome looks very promising for any company connected to media and entertainment.  All businesses stand to benefit from the intersection of rich content — whether it is sports, movies, network programming, or radio – and the consumer’s desire to see it when and where they want it.

Just a few ways AT&T can help are through network services, hosting and cloud services, and our content delivery platform.  In fact AT&T will be providing networking services to NBC Olympics for its production of the London Olympic Games.

AT&T will provide managed networking services for NBC Olympics, a division of the NBC Sports Group, during its coverage of the 2012 London Olympic Games from London, England, July 27 through August 12, 2012.  NBC’s Olympics division will use a managed private networking solution from AT&T to help deliver its high-definition broadcast coverage of the 2012 London Olympic Games.  AT&T’s networking solution will create a connection between NBC’s Olympics division’s space in the International Broadcast Center (IBC) production facilities at the London Olympics and NBC’s Olympics division’s facilities in the U.S.

So what’s your monetization strategy?  Is it designed with the customer in mind?  Are they willing to pay for it?
Michael Nigro Application Sales Manager AT&T About Michael