The Big Debate

Sport Business News

Representatives from the sports industry were asked to answer the question: "How will or should digital technology be used by fans, athletes and sponsors at the major events of 2010 and beyond in 2012?"

Oliver Slipper, joint CEO, Perform:"The use of video between 2006 and now has exploded. The FIFA World Cup has definitely been a catalyst for mass usage. Video will definitely play an important role in next year's event with lots of blogging as well. Footballers will no doubt use Twitter – if they are allowed to – and the smart thing would be to offer an application that aggregates all the feeds into one place. Twitter will definitely take over from blogging with 90% of it continuing to be done by mobile. More and more sponsors will start using Twitter. Mobile apps will also increase in importance. "Jed Pearsall, president, Performance Research:"Sports events are often missing the boat when it comes to digital propositions. They should be generating ideas and suggesting them to sponsors. There is however a lack of control especially with viral and social applications because fans want to manage the conversation. Sponsors aren't often too comfortable when it comes to taking a back seat as they are used to carefully–constructed messages. The braver, more forward–thinking ones however will embrace it and fans will love them for it as they will feel on a more equal footing with them. At the end of the day, sponsors need to make 'friends' with their fans. That's how social media works after all. "Peter Harris, global CEO, Iris Sponsorship:"This space is evolving rapidly and offers a whole platform of opportunities for sponsors to continuously engage with their costumers delivering access to proprietary assets, information and most importantly entertainment–whether through viral content, micro sites or applications. The 2010 FIFA World Cup will be interesting as most companies involved in the event will offer some sort of digital content. However, the ones that will be successful will be the ones who offer fans more of what they want such as access to exclusive information about players and national teams, and other unique, differentiating content and applications. "Claire Blakeway, head of internal engagement and communications, BP London 2012 partnership:"BP was one of the later partners to sign up for London 2012. The first four to five months were spent shaping the strategy and 2009 has been about engaging key stakeholders internally. A BP intranet site was launched for staff in October 2009 (to leverage the 1, 000 days to go milestone) with the aim being to encourage two–way dialogue between staff and the BP sponsorship team. The challenge is to make sure everyone feels connected and we are currently looking at ways to engage them such as through tickets or other rewards. Internally we'll be looking for contributions and asking a number of people for feedback etc. Our priority in 2010 is to find out who our key audiences are and find out what they think about BP so far and how that will change in relation to our partnership with London 2012. Our external promotion of the partnership will start in 2010. Next year we will also look at digital channels specifically. Our global site will talk about the rationale behind the sponsorship and perhaps have details of our volunteer programme etc. "Simon Banoub, head of marketing, Opta Sportsdata:"Brands need to innovate and engage rather than just push out information. Opta's strength is that we already have a good offering for brands in terms of data etc. They don't have the databases whereas we do. We understand what makes the data interesting and how it can be used to drive 'the pub debate'. On the mobile side of things, the way forward is running disposable apps for brands that are involved in short–term events such as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. For example, a brand could sponsor an app that literally appears for two weeks and has useful information and data in it. It would be free for the consumer to download and then get deleted after the event. The benefit is that they would be timely and of benefit to fans. It's just another way for sponsors to leverage their own brands. "

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