BY MATT CUTLER
Yesterday at the iconic British Library we held our 2018 UK Client Conference for the sixth time.
In total, 180 executives from the 78 sports rights-holders we actively work with joined us – making it our biggest ever conference, but more importantly, based on immediate feedback, we believe our best. We’d like to thank every client who invested their time and energy into attending.
The 2018 theme was Stories are just data with a soul, and through a mix of keynote sessions, data-driven ideas to drive growth and client-delivered seminars – all under Chatham House Rules – we explored the role storytelling will play for sport in accelerating growth in a world of changing global media consumption and raised customer expectations.
Personal highlights for me were sitting in seminars where notable rights-holders spoke with unusual levels of candidness, while it was also fantastic to unveil some of the insights from our recent developments in machine-learning, sharing 15 ways our data tells us our clients can outgrow the market.
But perhaps most pertinent for the venue, which holds 150 million items including some of the world’s important historical papers, the day finished with a nod to history – and what the lessons we’ve learnt can tell us about sport’s next chapter.
Delivered by my colleagues Jonny Algeo and Clare Vigers, these included why “customers have become our pacemakers”. The power has finally shifted to consumers, who want better experiences, more convenience, less friction and personalised, multi-channel experiences that are second nature in their daily lives. And they expect purchase journeys to be as simple as they are when using Amazon’s Alexa, mobile payments, or even facial recognition. Not responding just isn’t an option.
Noteworthy too was an exploration of how boundaries and language distinctions have broken, and will continue to break in our industry. The line, for instance, between sport and entertainment has, and will continue to, become blurrier every year. Is the distinction between ‘content’ and ‘marketing’ even helpful anymore? And most importantly, the language of ‘digital’ and ‘physical’ as two separate things won’t stand the test of time. Rights-holders need to be prepared to drop the ‘traditional’ boundaries and distinctions they’ve become accustomed to.
Regardless of being new or established, we heard, one thing holds true across all industries in periods of disruption: winners will run their own race. They might even run a new race. History is littered with examples of organisations that have navigated disruption best because, as they evolved, they stayed committed to their guiding principles, their customers, and themselves.
Nintendo was mentioned as just one example of many organisations who have done this. As a rights-holder, knowing what the next move is going to be, and how it can be done while remaining true to values and core principles, is critical.
It was humbling to have such a broad and deep representation of the sports industry to share in these insights and take part in the conversation that followed, and driven by the energising feedback we heard throughout the day, planning to improve next year’s UK Client Conference is already underway. Genuinely.
In the meantime, you might be interested by selection of photos from the day, which can be found below.
Photos: Sam Taylor, S R Taylor Photography