Last week, Beth Snyder Bulik of Advertising Age interviewed Sam Kennedy, the chief operating officer of the Boston Red Sox and president of Fenway Sports Management, for a story entitled, “How Fenway Became About Much More than Baseball.”
Fenway Sports Management (formerly Fenway Sports Group) specializes in sponsorship sales and brand management consulting, and serves as the global sports sponsorship sales arm of Fenway Sports Group. Since its inception in 2004, FSM has created successful integrated sponsorship programs for the blue chip brands it represents including: the Boston Red Sox, Boston College Athletics, Liverpool Football Club, LRMR/LeBron James, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, New England Sports Network (NESN), PGA TOUR Playoff event the Deutsche Bank Championship, and Roush Fenway Racing.
They had me at Red Sox.
Kennedy told Bulik, “The single biggest development or change has been the exploding value of content. If you look around at the value of media rights deals, the content for American baseball and global soccer – really all sports and some big entertainment events – has gone through the roof.” He added, “It is one of the only [pieces of] content that needs to be consumed live. People aren’t DVR-ing those events.”
So, I figured that I’d write a column this week that focused on FSM’s YouTube channels. This may (or may not) include: Liverpool FC, which has 147,642 subscribers and 19,740,343 video views, the Official Channel of MLB.com, which has 32,804 subscribers and 7,870,046 views, LeBronJames.com, which has 19,258 subscribers and 3,307,594 video views, NESN, which has 1,165 subscribers and 1,824,654 views, Roush Fenway Racing, which has 1,126 subscribers and 470,824 views, Boston College Athletics, which has 435 subscribers and 475,516 views, and Deutsche Bank Championship, which has 11 subscribers and 3,090 video views.
There aren’t any YouTube buttons on the Fenway Sports Management website, so I may be missing other FSM YouTube channels (or I may have included some that don’t belong to the sports marketing agency).
Nevertheless, many of FSM’s putative YouTube channels don’t seem “so good, so good, so good.”
For example, compare the Liverpool FC channel to the FC Barcelona channel on YouTube, which has 840,456 subscribers and 152,918,040 views, or the Real Madrid C.F. channel, which has 711,457 subscribers and 103,523,368 views. Even if you compare the Liverpool FC channel to ones for other teams in the Barclays Premier League, The Official Chelsea FC YouTube Channel has 217,091 subscribers and 61,338,683 video views, while the Manchester City FC – Official channel has 163,755 subscribers and 87,125,680 video views.
And if baseball is “America’s pastime,” then why does the NBA channel on YouTube have 3,545,760 subscribers and 1,415,107,215 views? Heck, even the National Hockey League channel on YouTube has 283,869 subscribers and 140,727,009 video views.
And although this may not be fair, compare the NESN channel with the ESPN channel on YouTube, which has 1,105,821 subscribers and 269,538,892 video views. Or, compare the LeBronJames.com channel to the Miami HEAT Official Videos channel on YouTube, which has 113,163 subscribers and 47,828,322 views.
To be fair, FSM’s YouTube channels aren’t as bad as last year’s Red Sox. But, they may still want to borrow one of the Red Sox unofficial 2013 marketing slogans: “What’s Broken Can Be Fixed.”
And one of the first things that FSM should fix is its outdated profile of YouTube’s core audience. It’s not the same audience that consumes FSM’s content on cable TV.
For example, I'm a Baby Boomer and I watch Red Sox games on cable TV (NESN) while stretched out horizontally on a couch. My oldest son is a Millennial and doesn't even own a TV. But he's also a Red Sox fan and watches recaps of games on his iPhone (ESPN's YouTube channel) while standing up vertically grilling burgers and hot dogs. That's the difference between Red Sox Nation and what YouTube calls Generation C.
And according to new data on Google’s Think Insights, about 80 percent of Gen C is made up of Millennials. And members of Gen C are twice as likely to be YouTube viewers as the general population, and 40 percent more likely to be light TV viewers.
According to Robert Kyncl, Vice President, Global Head of Content Partnerships for YouTube, Nielsen has recently concluded that “YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network. And history – from the transition to radio, then TV, from network to cable – tells us that advertisers always follow the audience.”
Kyncl adds, "Much like our content creators, we find that brands on YouTube – like T-Mobile, Samsung, Dove and Pepsi – all share a common objective: to cultivate a direct relationship with their consumers – one built on engagement and authenticity. These companies know that on YouTube, it isn't just about rallying behind one show; it is about reaching the passionate fan communities of Gen C, an audience that influences more than $500 billion in annual consumer spending. As a result, we’re seeing a myriad of brands increasing their media spend, building channels, and discovering first-hand that the interactions they have with their fans on YouTube drive engagement."
Next week, I’ll outline some of the latest best practices that FSM can use to build a more loyal and engaged audience on YouTube. Now, I suspect that many of you are ready to read that column now. But, at least I didn’t say, “Wait till next year.”