For this edition of “Teaching Thursdays” we ask some of our colleagues at Columbia what they will be keeping their eye on for 2017. The Masters in Sports Management Program at Columbia, now just over 10 years old, is the only program in the Ivy League and is recognized as the number two program globally by SportBusiness International for its 2016 Postgraduate Sports rankings.
Here you go…
“I’ll be keeping an eye out for new uses of virtual reality for athlete training and performance improvement. While much of the VR attention is focused on enhancing the fan experience, it’s amazing how quickly innovative companies have adapted VR technology for athlete training. It’s being used in basketball to train NBA players to improve free throw performance, in football to help quarterbacks recognize defensive alignments and coverage patterns, and in MLB to help hitters prepare for specific pitchers. I think we’ll see even more innovative applications in 2017.”
-Professor Vince Gennaro, Director of Sports Management Program, Columbia University
“I’m expecting continued fallout from the election to move sports advocacy of social causes into version 2.0 in 2017. There were some compelling “teachable moments” where some athletes did it the right way and some not so much. Athletes realize their ability to be heard and I believe we’ll see an aggregation of many to combine their voices so they are heard in a productive manner.
As media consumption habits of millennial sports fans migrate to digital platforms, I’m predicting an explosion of digital programming that will mirror the variety once offered across linear networks. I think there is a void in digital shoulder programming and whoever goes there first will reap the benefits of long-term loyalty and engagement.
Based on sheer volume, reach and continued novelty, I would bet heavy on eSports. Look to professional organizations and team owners like the Philadelphia 76ers to mainstream sponsorships/ partnerships to showcase successful brand case studies to the marketplace. It’s going to take smart, experienced ownership groups to demonstrate value and impact to move non-endemics brands into this space at a faster pace.”
-Professor Michael A. Neuman, Executive Vice President, Managing Partner, Scout Sports and Entertainment
“Since you have asked what I would “bet on” in 2017, and since I love a pun, I have to say that from the Sports Law perspective, gambling (and efforts to legalize sports betting and efforts to legitimize and regulate Daily Fantasy) will be hot topics as we enter 2017. The long running New Jersey sports betting case is already at the doorstep of the United States Supreme Court with the potential for review in 2017.
What would I like to see less of in 2017 (but am not betting on)? Less cases of domestic violence infecting sports in general and leagues and teams in particular, please let that be behind us in 2017.”
-Professor Carla Varriale, attorney with Havkins Rosenfeld Ritzert & Varriale, LLP
“Demand for real-time consumption sports programming as this is viewed live and not time shifted continues to grow, and “long-tail” programming continues to become increasingly viable.
Rights for the major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR) in the U.S. are locked up essentially for the next five years, and by and large this includes the major “power 5/65” college conferences. Based on media rights fees, ratings and other key analytics, the power 5/65 are more in line with professional sports , which have become the true purview of the other 27 conferences in Division 1, as well as Division 2 and Division 3.
Currently, non-traditional digital players (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Whistle) are getting increasingly active with respect to sports programming. Amazon in particular, is best positioned given their superior “big data” to monetize this long-tail content on multiple levels, identifying viewers, OTT pay clients, and merchandise sales. In this “Television 3.0” landscape, this creates a tremendous opportunity for all schools and conferences outside of the “power 5” to monetize their content and drive exposure supporting recruiting and profiles of these schools and conferences. It is essential that these conferences and schools think outside the box, and maintain flexibility over the next five years to capitalize on these monumental market shifts, and huge opportunities inherent in emerging Over the Top television platforms and non-traditional media players.
-Professor Ray Katz, co-founder ROI Sports Group
“A few predictions:
- A more significant foray into sports by at least a couple of the big digital companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc.
- Facebook will do more and bigger sports-related things with Facebook Live.
- Decline of pay TV sub numbers will continue due to cord-cutting.
- Ratings will continue to erode for some of the big leagues, most notably NFL.
- Legalization of sports gambling will be an even hotter issue as leagues continue to look more aggressively for next big revenue bucket.”
-Professor Tom Richardson, CEO Convergence Sports & Media
“We are going to continue to see the refinement of what is now called OTT into some meaningful and expansive content that will find a revenue stream, one which will offset the erosion from the traditional TV model. I’m also looking to see what disruptor media companies like Amazon will do not just with acquired and created content, but in areas like ticketing services and enhanced customer interaction as well. We will continue to be more global in thought, whether that translates into sales and engagement with brands we have not seen in the sports marketplace remains to be seen, but it is certainly worth watching.”
-Professor Chris Lencheski, Vice Chairman of Board & Chief Executive Officer, IRGSE
“Digital media continues to influence the sports world, as the live event competitions (and surrounding/complementing commentary) of sport can be each distributed and viewed myriad of ways, watched live or on demand. In turn, “challengers” are finding ways to differentiate, engaging consumers with both exclusive and very entertaining content. One such “player” in the space is DailyMotion (now owned by Vivendi) who are positioning themselves to compete with the likes of YouTube and others, with each OTT capabilities and a very easy-to-use technology (video player), along with exclusive sports content. While I’m not ready to bet on DailyMotion knocking Google/YouTube off of any pedestal, there’s plenty of room for DailyMotion to play in, as it’s not a zero-sum game, but a game based on content that engages.”
-Professor Michael Dittelman, Managing Director of Dedicated Sports Marketing, LLC and the Head of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships for Regent Equity’s digital media holdings