Sports Entertainment Summit II: Conquering Social Media

By Steve Harvey

Social media is invaluable in amplifying and extending the sports fan’s experience. That was the conclusion of a panel entitled Conquering Social Media, which considered how best to engage fans.

As Mandalay Entertainment founder Peter Guber noted earlier in the day, “We’re at the beginning of the beginning” with social media. There is no sure-fire roadmap to success yet, although panelists were certainly optimistic regarding social media’s potential.

Universal Sports Network’s Perkins Miller noted that social media users watch more TV, and those fans can communicate and share information incredibly quickly. “It gives you the ability to reach into the market like you never could before,” he said.

According to Christina Miller of Turner Sports, social media changed the way the network distributed March Madness games this year. Social platforms and traditional broadcast worked together; ratings were up, and the average age was down, she reported.

There is massive potential for engagement through social media, agreed Facebook’s Nick Grudin, pointing to the NBA’s 85 million fans on the platform. Sports venues are the #2 most checked-into location across Facebook, after airports, he reported: “It’s another indicator that sports are inherently social.”

Check-in services have tremendous appeal on both sides. “Fans love when athletes check-in,” commented Universal’s Miller. “It helps us understand the consumer better,” added Twitter’s Omid Ashtari.

It can be difficult to attract fans to a specific stream, observed Jason Kint of CBSSports.com, which hosts 11,000 live events per year. But “take it out to the water cooler [social media] then we’ll have much more success.”

Less mainstream sports can also attract an audience if exposed on social platforms, considered Turner’s Miller. “Whether it’s [U.K. soccer club] Manchester United, or even cricket,” the global nature of the internet delivers other sports to U.S. fans, she said.

Facebook’s 750 million followers are appealing marketing targets, and the platform is working hard to enable sports content streaming via the platform and elsewhere. “Our goal is to help make these sports social,” stressed Grudin.

Click here for SVG’s comprehensive coverage of the Sports Entertainment Summit II.