A week ago I was invited to participate as a panelist in the Sport and Technology conference in London. The subject of the panel was protecting rights. There was a great panel and a very lively discussion. I think that we need to change the way we look at rights and start talking about managing your rights instead of protecting them. Right prosecution is only a small part of the equation and right holders that will focus on that aspect alone will find that the market has moved and they stay behind. In an economy that has so much to offer the main problem is gaining share of mind, making sure a fan spends time reading an article on Sportingo and not on any other sport site. The same is the case for any right holder, if you don’t’ make content available to your fans and potential fans they will easily find other ways to fill their time and end up spending more time watching another sport. That does not mean that if you own lucrative rights and have signed TV deals for hundreds of millions or billions of dollars you should just put all of you content out for free. It does mean that you need to be a lot more proactive about learning what your fans are interested in and figuring out a new model that can address this emerging need. Make video clips, highlights or archives available and figure out new ways to prove their value.
Assuming that the life time value of a sport fan is in the many thousands of dollars (if anyone has that number please email me) the focus of right holders should be on how do I use new media to acquire more customers so in the longer term I can be more profitable. The value of gaining another 100,000 fans around the globe that will spend the next 50 years following your sport, watching it, buying merchandize, attending events etc is by far larger then any possible loose of revenue in the short term.
My take from the conference was that most media right holders realize that the world is changing and that they have to experiment with new models and ways to enageage fans.