It’s the morning after the BCS Championship game, and if you are like me and soon to shake off the grogginess from last night’s festivities, you may be in need of a pick-me-up. With the passing of bowl season (congratulate me; I achieved my goal of watching at least one series of each of the 35 games), I’m left with the painful reality that another year will pass without a Super Bowl for my Tennessee Titans and the fact that there’s the better part of two months that we will have to wait until March Madness and the onset of formal baseball games. So it’s back to business, and time for another one of those annual lists of things all sports marketers can look forward to in the year ahead.
Jumbotron wars usher in new opportunities: Lost among a variety of end-of-year sports stories was the announcement that Houston’s Reliant Stadium will surpass its “neighbors” in Dallas by adding a 52-foot-tall, state-of-the-art LED scoreboard that will be the largest in professional sports. Just as the rush towards new stadiums helped transform the live sports experience over the past two decades, I see this announcement as the onset of a new explosion of innovation. With several venues investing significantly in upgraded wi-fi connectivity and the NFL and others committed to enhancing and broadening the live product, look for greater need for sports marketing investment to fund these efforts and greater activation opportunities.
Conference re-alignment equals rebranding: Fellow Tufts grad and new Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco has certainly had a challenging initial few months on the job. But once the latest round of conference reshuffling comes to its conclusion and TV rights deals are secured, there will be ample marketing opportunity for all of the affected major college conferences. New rivalries will emerge and the increased exposure across new and traditional media should be a boon for brands, agencies and the properties themselves, as college athletics become even more pervasive in the sports landscape as one of the only truly national properties that reach Americans in all 50 states.
The amalgamation of behavioral and attitudinal data: As a researcher, I can’t leave out the influence of “big data” on event marketing. I’m beginning to see a greater embrace of transactional data capture across a variety of sports properties, and the opportunity to fuse that data with attitudinal research will propel sports towards many of the sophisticated customer segmentation and one-to-one marketing strategies that have become a source of competitive advantage for many of our most successful consumer facing brands.
NY metro Super Bowl build-up: Here in self-absorbed Gotham, where sports talk radio is working hard to find ways to keep the Jets and Giants top of mind, we can now pile on the fact that Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands is just a year away. Yes, it’s often cold and snowy in the Northeast in early February, but some 39,000 fans braved consistent snow squalls for this year’s Pinstripe Bowl. Super Bowl XLVIII is the perfect storm of the biggest sporting event meeting the biggest marketing mecca. This is the London Olympics on U.S. soil, and with it will come 12 intense months of planning and preparation.
Year-round inter-league play in MLB: With the Houston Astros shipped to the American League, an odd number of teams in each league will now necessitate inter-league play throughout the full 2013 season. The Astros may not provide a compelling story on the field this year, but the marketing story lines will be abundant as the team rolls out new branding in lock step with its new home in the standings. Similarly, the new scheduling dynamics will afford all MLB clubs with greater opportunity to refine dynamic pricing and activate promotions throughout the season.
Women in green jackets: My firm has had the distinct pleasure of conducting an abundance of women’s golf-related research, and I’m proud to be actively involved in helping to advance the push towards greater women’s participation in the sport. Yet despite being immersed in the effort, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised to see hallowed Augusta National admit its first female members last year. Let’s hope that the sight of these members adorned in traditional green jackets this April can be further leveraged to support women’s golf marketing.
Hockey: Please! At some point? Lots of repair work to be done with fans. But people have short memories, and the product is too good. As Kelly Clarkson sang, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Happy New Year.