88 Marketing blog: All things sports marketing and new media.

With the holiday season over and 2011 well underway, I’d like to welcome you to 88 Marketing’s new blog. The goal is to provide weekly commentary, insight and information regarding the world of sports marketing and new media. Since we are in January I thought we would first take a look what to watch for in 2011.

The ever expanding world of Social Media and how teams, leagues and sponsors utilize this medium will be a big factor this year. By now every team has a Facebook page and Twitter account, but how properties utilize these assets and communicate with their fans will separate the leaders from the pack. Who will make it easy for sponsors to tie in with what they are doing around the team? Who will find more meaningful ways to engage with their fans? Sheer volume of Facebook fans or Twitter followers alone will not be the benchmark of success. The quality of interaction, feedback from fans and influencing behavior will be the ultimate measurement.

Along these lines of New Media, what role new technology will play in sports will be fun to watch. Consumer electronics companies are tripping over themselves to get their version of the iPad to market this year with brands such as Toshiba, RIM, LG, Dell, etc. all launching new tablets. Developers of different customized sports apps for these devices should have plenty of opportunities. The mobile space seems to change at light speed and fans now expect to be able to follow their teams from device to device no matter where they are at all times. Some properties are still slow to embrace this, but eventually it will change the way we consume sports. Last year we saw the introduction of 3D TV with very little content available and not much market penetration. Both will grow in 2011, but I’m still skeptical as to whether this is a fad or will eventually reach mass market. After attending CES, it appears the next big thing is Smart TV with many of the major manufacturers showcasing their version of this TV/Internet interface. Sports fans will love the ability to watch a game and check out their fantasy team or favorite sport sites simultaneously.

The pending NFL and NBA work stoppages will loom over the sports business like a dark storm on the horizon. Especially if you are invested in any of these sports at the league or team level. If one or any of these leagues do end up missing games which cut into their next season, how will it impact the sponsorship landscape? Other sports like baseball or soccer may benefit, if the money shift towards them. Hopefully current sponsors have contingency plans in place, but a lot is riding on this. There are also potential long term effects, if for instance a sponsor moves on to other things or there is a hangover of negative feelings once games resume. The economy finally seems to be turning around and sponsors are getting back close to pre-recession levels. Hopefully these leagues and players will learn a lesson from MLB in regards to the benefits of avoiding a strike and maintaining continuity. Baseball boasts sixteen years of labor peace since the strike of 1995. As a result, the sport has been able to more than triple revenue, open several new stadiums and set record attendance levels.