Brand Engagement, Sport Business | May 29, 2018
Seen and heard at the TimesCenter today.

As a closing line is drawn under the Leaders Sport Business Summit New York for another year, a beeline is made for networking drinks across the road at the Hilton, at the Esports Observer drinks at Rainbow Room, and to the SBJ Sports Business Awards this evening. Leaders Week continues with the Ultimate Fan Experience at Microsoft Conference Center from 9am tomorrow, but for now here’s a piping hot wrap-up of day two of the Leaders Sports Business Summit.


  • Liverpool FC CEO Peter Moore is off to Kiev directly after Leaders for the UEFA Champions League final. If he was supposed to be sitting next to Leaders CEO – and fellow Liverpudlian – Jimmy Worrall, he’ll probably be changing his seat as the Leaders man opted to introduce his old friend with a hype video for the blue half of Liverpool and a partnership between Angry Birds and Everton FC. As the only Premier League CEO on Twitter though, Moore knows how to deal with a pesky heckler. And just a season into the job, it’s clear the former EA Sports man has brought some Silicon Valley thinking – at least in terms of organisational best practice – to what was already one of the biggest brands in football. As the team has marched its way to another European final, Moore has gone about building a vision, some stretch goals and a manifesto that captures the essence of the club: ‘our pulse is global, our heart is local; and you’ll never walk alone is both our anthem and our rallying cry.’
  • NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus was bullish on the Peacock’s ratings performances of recent months. The network’s new ‘Total Audience Delivery’ methodology is a response to what Lazarus sees as inadequate measurement standards for modern media consumption. ‘TAD’ aggregates viewer engagement across television, streaming, and social and gives a much more generous – NBC would no doubt say realistic – metric. As linear ratings continue to decline – and the talk of cord-cutting and disruption only intensifies – I wouldn’t bet against other networks building their own in-house assessment tools.
  • Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke is a man on a mission. Arriving no more than a minute before his onstage session this morning, he was in typically rapid-fire and visionary form before introducing a few VIPs to his latest high-profile hire. That announcement –as well as a string of intriguing agency tie-up confirmations – is expected in the next month or so. Venue operation businesses across the world be warned: Leiweke’s making moves.
  • The deep respect that underpins the culture inside the New Zealand All Blacks is typified by the gravitas associated with the famous shirt. That extends to individual players too, each of whom is taught that they inherit the shirt from everyone who wore it before them, and simply look after it for all those that will come in the future. NZRU CEO Steve Tew shared a panel discussion with Gabrielle Dow of the Green Bay Packers today and the cultural similarities were striking. In fact, Dow explained that executive level, each employee has an attitude instilled in them that they must leave the Packers in a better position than when they joined.


  • Meredith Kopit Levien has overseen an industry-leading success story as the COO of a New York Times organisation that has embraced digital disruption with bold strategic choices. The media group is now monetising digital subscription services to confound even the most optimistic of media industry predictions of a few years ago. For the hundreds of sports executives in the audience – many of whom now consider themselves as content producers and marketers first and foremost – this was a cheering story to hear. A snippet that may well have sounded a few alarm bells though – expertly drawn out by Omnigon CCO Dave Nugent – “I firmly believe we are at peak ‘content’,” Levien said. “Everybody making a version of the same thing to get audience share – that moment is over. Unique creators will be the only ones to survive.”
  • It was good of Nugent to spend his birthday with us at Leaders, first of all moderating downstairs on the mainstage, and later presiding over Omnigon’s digital rights holder afternoon upstairs on the 15th It’s unbecoming of me to reveal Nugent’s age – (it’s x, but of course he looks x-minus 10), but it did make me think of MLS comms chief Dan Courtemanche, unquestionably the youngest looking 50-year-old in world sport. He’s at the SBJ Awards at the Marriot tonight and he should probably be picking up a gong for that.
  • Sports betting has of course been a red-hot topic across the TimesCenter, in private sessions, on the main stage and in the networking halls, following last week’s decision by the Supreme Court, which effectively set in motion the process for legalisation in the United States. But is the country on the verge of a gold rush, or is it about to open a Pandora’s box of match-fixing and addiction (on an almost unimaginably complicated state-by-state basis)? The jury’s still out – there are, after all, huge issues around data, education and creating the necessary safeguards to protect sports and leagues – but the consensus from the many experts gathered in the Big Apple this week is that we are on the cusp of a golden, if incredibly complex, opportunity for the US to design a sports betting and integrity model that is the envy of the world.
  • There was also a lot of talk about China – if not on stage, then certainly in the networking halls and in the speaker room. The market may have cooled a little, but it remains a key area of focus for many of the 700 or so delegates that joined us across the summit. It goes without saying that you’re all cordially invited to join as we head to Beijing for our next Leaders Sport Business Summit on 25th and 26th July this year.

On the tweets:

@Shawn_McBride_9: Marketing gospel from @LiverpoolFC CEO @PeterMooreLFC: “Content is great but unless you can match it w/ data, it is useless.” #LeadersWeek

@awhilary: Mark Lazarus says “NBC has gone from laggard to leader by streaming all shows online and by putting content where it makes us uncomfortable.” #LeadersWeek #nbcsports

@WarJessEagle: Spot on from @meredith_levien: We are at peak content. We don’t need more content. People want intention, something unique. #LeadersWeek

@JeffYocom: Could listen to Tim Leiweke talk about the impact sports facilities have on local economies for hours. Megha Parekh more than held her own, too. #LeadersWeek

@JeffEisenband:.@PerformGroup‘s Matt Drew says when it comes to legal sports betting in the U.S., the sports books will do their thing, Daily Fantasy Sports will do their thing and other opportunities are going to develop that we can’t even imagine right now. @LeadersBiz #LeadersWeek

@joefav: Loved presentation by Julia Goldin @LEGO_Group; key simple elements as KPI; #storytelling, #roleplaying, #Sustainability, #Leadersweek

@GeniusSports: “I’m concerned with a state by state solution that we could end up with a regulatory race to the bottom & I fear that integrity effect will be an afterthought” – S Burton #LeadersWeek @LeadersBiz @LSPReport @PerformGroup @WALLACHLEGAL

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