As part Sportv Series Latin America, the first virtual event organized by Dataxis, the panel discussion ‘Fan engagement in the ‘new normality’ era of empty stadiums’ was held, in which Pablo Zarate, VP , Property and Commercial Development, Soccer United Marketing / MLS; Carlos Sanchez Rojas, Director Social Media at TV Azteca; Norberto Gobbi, Marketing Manager atGimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata Club (Argentina); Roberto Martinez Alvarez, in charge of the Marketing and Communication areas at Racing Club (Argentina); Luke Gaydon, Business Development for Sports at Accedo; and Heidi Pellerano, Concacaf Chief Commercial Officer, took part.
‘One point is fan engagement, and another is monetization, which go hand in hand. Part of the strategy of the leagues and clubs is focused on giving a service for fans. Along the way, a way to monetize contents is funded. At MLS, we have a package that we market nationally with broadcasters. We give local clubs the opportunity to run agreements with cable companies and we have an off market package, which allows us to offer apps for smart TVs. The evolution was to identify the right partners in each platform’, reported Zarate in relation to how to create D2C OTTs. In this regard, Sanchez Rojas reported that ‘on demand content cannot be supported only by matches’, and quoted the example of Chivas TV, which began to partner with third parties. ‘There is a future, but we must learn how to balance our interests with those of the fans’, added the executive.
Regarding the role of clubs in the launch of OTT platforms, Gobbi said that ‘the evolution of OTT platforms is the natural way for clubs to become content-producing media’. The executive expressed that he notices an opportunity for clubs. ‘We find value in knowing other types of consumer preferences and uses, specially with new generations. We generate complementary content and understand new consumer preferences. The TV business does not give additional information for the comprehensive knowledge of the fans’, he said. ‘One thing we have in common is the constant pressure to create new income. We have a responsibility to give access to Concacaf content, which was the main motivation for us. When the sport has been globalizing, we are all competing by schedules’, said Pellerano.
‘We had to act very quickly during the pandemic to see how we were still in competition. Our decision was to get back to the competition as quickly as possible, in any possible way. What we did was create a ‘bubble’. We set the entire infrastructure and played 50 matches in a month in a controlled environment. The important thing is how to keep the fan connected and not to put them away. The pandemic helped to launch several projects and we had many ways to connect fans. What happened the most during the pandemic was collaboration, being open to new ideas and support from different actors’,said Zarate. This way, Martinez Alvarez said that the Coronavirus pandemic ‘caught us a month after launching the OTT and made us accelerate all the processes. The key thing was to risk with new content, challenges, new interviews and new ways, and in a situation of change it is allowed to risk more than in a stable situation’.
Gaydon highlighted OTT innovation, change creation and fan engagement. The executive referred to the Importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning to create visual experiences (eg: virtual experience of stadiums), and the creation of social content around sports; as well as the importance for rights owners understand the fan, so that they give a favorable answer. ‘Understanding the fan is very important. One of the most important things is to understand that fanaticism takes place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We must see what others do in football and in other areas such as music with gigs, and see how we adapt it to our world’, reported Pellerano.
‘There was a content evolution in the pandemic. Curiosity of the audience cannot be underestimated. There is an innate curiosity towards different content that we must exploit. We had the challenge of constantly creating content despite the sporting event’, said Sanchez Rojas. In addition, Martinez Alvarez reported that there is still a long way to go, although ‘when the client is known, we will be able to get more revenue from different places, offering them new experiences that should not only be used to generate immediate income, but to generate other collateral income, which will be important in the future’.