SES: How Online Media is Revolutionizing the Coverage of Sports

nhl media day

When SES Chicago
takes place October 18-22nd it will offer 70+ sessions, intensive
training workshops, and an expo floor packed with companies that can
help you grow your business. Programmed by the SES advisory board, you can be assured - SES content really is king!

I had an exclusive email discussion with Simon Heseltine, the Principal Marketing Manager for the News & Information division at AOL Inc, working on sites such as and from their Dulles, VA location.

For more on SES and part one of my exclusive with Heseltine go here.


PMB: How is the changing face of media affecting how professional
and college teams garner publicity, and therefore market their
programs? What are the current online ad revenue models for news
organizations, and how will that change when the internet becomes the
primary way most of the population receives their news?

SH: I had a conversation with several journalists at AOL a few weeks
ago, and part of that discussion revolved around the fact that the best
way to generate traffic was to break interesting stories that people
want to read. Admittedly that's not much of a change from how
journalism has traditionally worked. The big difference is that the
delivery mechanisms have changed. Teams can, and are, using those new
delivery mechanisms to differing degrees of success, but what has
changed is that you now also have fans and players with access to tools
that can, and are, generating publicity.

Whether it's Chad Ochocinco tweeting from the sideline, or Kevin Pietersen
tweeting about being dropped, information is getting out there. Sure,
leagues can try to ban players from blogging, tweeting, or using social
networks to talk about events with their teams, but in today's cell
phone society any outburst by a player can turn up on YouTube 10 minutes later, which then becomes an issue for the club / league.

The teams and leagues that succeed are going to be those that embrace
new technologies, and use them to pull in new fans. As a Brit I love
the English Premier League, but they have a strict policy on highlights
on YouTube. As soon as any get posted, they are removed due to
copyright violations. This means that fans around the world don't get a
chance to see that spectacular goal/save/tackle that may draw them in
to watching the game on ESPN2 the next weekend. It's a missed

CPM advertising seems to be the most prevalent online ad revenue
model right now, with some news organizations operating on subscription
models. The problem with subscription models is that you really need
to hide your content from the search engines to prevent the content
from being accessed by anyone, and you have to have a unique enough
selling point to encourage people to part with their cash, given that
all other things being equal they'll just go get the same info for
free. Some organizations may be able to make subscriptions work if
they have the brand/content/high quality writers/niche coverage that
others don't, but for the rest it'll most likely be CPM based.


PMB: In the experience of myself and my colleagues, college
programs are currently light years ahead of professional teams when it
comes to accommodating online journalists and bloggers. Why is there
such a gap here? Could it be due to the fact that professional teams
have bigger budgets to spend on individuals who provide video and
written content about their own teams?

SH: It's possible that it's just a question of mentality. The
professional leagues are comfortable dealing with traditional media
outlets, and don't necessarily see the benefit behind embracing online
journalists, unless there's a print/tv outlet behind them.

Now, that's not true of all, there are inroads being made, with teams such as the Washington Capitals embracing bloggers,
but there's still a long way to go. College programs tend to be happy
to get whatever coverage they can, especially when they're in a market
with a number of professional teams, so bloggers have the potential for more access.

PMB: When it comes to generating awareness and publicity, and
therefore selling tickets, how true is the phrase "all publicity is good
publicity"? What opportunities are there for revenue streams in
Twitter, Facebook, and similar sites?

SH: I'm not sure that the LA Galaxy is particularly thrilled with the
headlines about David Beckham's alleged extra-marital exploits, or the
Dodgers about their ownership issues.
Sure, notoriety can also sell tickets, but that only lasts for so
long. Online reputation management is something that teams &
players are going to have to think about in order to minimize the damage
to their online presence.

As far as social media sites and revenue streams, there's a lot of
opportunities out there, some sites are already tapping into it, i.e. ESPN in April
had almost 13% of their traffic coming from Facebook. If you're a site
that talks about sports, or if you're a team/player/league and you're
not looking at/working with social media sites, you really should be,
because the people that are on them are those that are going to drive
your revenue, whether through clicks or tickets, and if you ignore
them, someone else will come in and get them.

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    Paul M. Banks

    Fulbright scholar in media studies, MBA, small media business owner, Published author, Founder of The Sports, a Fox Sports affiliate Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Former political writer for Washington, NBC and numerous business journals Credentialed for: United Nations, Rose Bowl, BCS National Championship, Final Four, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA Playoffs. Been featured on: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Live, The History Channel, CBS and ESPN radio. Does weekly segments for NBC and Fox Sports Radio stations across the nation.

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