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  • Q&A: Olympic Sports Should Harness Digital Media


    Digital sports media consultant Pierre Germeau.
    Pierre Germeau has more than 10 years of experience in new media strategies for sport events through the firm Sinergi Sports Consulting,

    He has provided expertise to SportAccord, UEFA, America’s Cup Management and other sports organizations. In this Q&A, Germeau discusses the present and future of sports digital media including the use of social networking (Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, tumbler, etc) and video.

    Around the Rings: What is the future of sports in the digital world?

    Pierre Germeau: I think the digital world offers all the components that work perfectly with sport. Therefore, I think the sports industry will play a key role in new trends and the features offered by new media will make it happen.

    First of all, digital media offers an enhance user experience via enhanced reality, enhanced 3-D, accessibility and all the types of features…

    What is also important, in my view and my experience in new media, is that thanks to these new applications you can reach isolated communities. You can reach a smaller community at a smaller cost compared to a traditional broadcast and therefore there is a huge potential there.

    ATR:  How many can people can you reach with just new media? How effective is new media?

    PG: (New media) is important for a discipline that is not one of the top-five worldwide. Five years ago you had no chance to access footage or streaming video of your favorite event if it was not one of the top-five or top-ten sports in the world. That was literally impossible because there were no general media rights sold to broadcasters.

    Now, all these things are possible. A small or medium size sports federation is able at very limited cost to broadcast its event and put it on the web and mobile applications to offer fans access to the event. That is what I mean when I say that you can reach isolated-communities   

    ATR: Can you elaborate on your experience working with new media and sailing?

    PG: That is where I learned so much about the potential of digital media. Because sailing was not one of the most interesting sports for broadcasters, it was not broadcasted in some countries where there was huge interest. Therefore, we developed a web-based product called “Live Sailing” that allowed people to follow the races live and in 3-diminesions available on the Web and more recently on mobile.

    You could access the races with additional information compared to the regular TV. For example, you could decide to display the advantage line between the two boats, the wind strength, the heading of the two boats, the evolution of the boats compared to the other. That was available of the internet without any kind of blocking (firewall) so sailing fan in a territory
    Germeau says sailing is reaching its "isolated community" by broadcasting its events on the internet. Germeau believes that sports federations must take advantage of the internet at compared to traditional media. (Getty images)
    where there was no broadcast could access the sport for free and in anyway they choose.

    ATR: What is the future of mobile application? Do you think people can get accustomed to watching sports on their I-Phones or Blackberries?

    PG: We have been talking about mobile stocking for at least ten years now but no one has really found a business modal. It was not really a reality until recently. In the past one or two years things have started to change. I think the big factors that are likely to bring mobile applications into the real-world is that the network technology and the broadband can handle live broadcast on the mobile. Five years ago, if you had twenty people on the same network and trying to watch a TV show or sports video clip the whole city network went down.

    Until recently there was no technical potential for a mass market for sports on mobile phones but now network capacity has increased (and improved phones including I-Phones)…I think mobile has really started now it is going to be massive in two to five years. I strongly believe that we will have mobile device that can access TV content and all kinds of content really soon.

    ATR: Is social media (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) working when it comes to sports? Does it work to promote an event or brand?

    PG: Social media is something you should take with caution because it is not a universal tool that you identify. You cannot say that social media is adaptive to sports and is good for sports. It depends on the discipline you are considering,   

    If you are looking for awareness then I think social media can bring you a lot.

    But if you are a well-established league or brand— because at the end of the day the sports industry is a brand— then you are more looking for protection and coherence your brand. Then in that case, then I am not really sure social media can bring more to a brand. For example, UEFA, these guys are not really looking at creating a Facebook account or tweeting everything because when you do that, lose control of your message and potentially lose control of your brand. When something is on Facebook you can have any kind of advertisements connected to the content, the content can be embedded and you lose total control.

    If you are a well established brand with a well established community, it may not be a good or necessary move.

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    Interview by Sam Steinberg.

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