Pro soccer player
On the unifying nature of sports
“In an increasingly fragmented media world with so many different options for the public, sport is a great unifier. In my country recently, 23 million people watched England play against Italy in the European Championship. That is nearly half the population. Look at the figures for the Super Bowl — incredible. Sport is entertaining and people of all ages and backgrounds gravitate towards it. Games now dominate the top 10 most-viewed programs in most countries around the world.
“I think both sports and entertainment have always looked to each other for ideas. One of my idols, Muhammad Ali, was an iconic figure that transcended sport and entertainment. There is now much more of a closer relationship between the two.
“As far as the way the games are played, I think that is solely on the individual athlete. I am not sure what others are influenced by, but for me, I am completely focused on the game and playing those 90 minutes. That is where I am most comfortable. That’s where I look to entertain.”
Film and TV producer-director
On “Friday Night Lights” and the relationship of sports and entertainment
“The show crossed out of the sports genre into, really, the family drama genre. At its core, ‘Friday Night Lights’ (the TV series) became a great look at culture, and at marriage and at family, that transcended the sport. And that was always really dominant in Buzz Bissinger’s book. I think it all started with Bissinger, because he wrote such a fully realized book and explored the community surrounding the football games with such depth and detail that the book became much more than a sports book. It was almost like a sociological expose on a culture, and that’s what we were able to do with the TV series.
“Youth sports are more popular than they’ve ever been. It could be ice hockey in Minnesota, basketball in Indiana, soccer in Florida … we are definitely a sports-rabid culture.
“I don’t see sports as a competitor (of entertainment). We’re all in the business of satisfying audiences. Sports fans, film audiences, music audiences (and) television audiences all exist very well together, and I think there’s a lot of cross-mingling there. I don’t see us as being a competitor — except we don’t like our films to come out Super Bowl Sunday, obviously.
“We’ve got a script (for an upcoming ‘Friday Night Lights’ film), and we’re keeping our heads down and charging along, trying to get that script as good as we can, and then we go see if we talk our stars into participating in it. Jason Katims just delivered a really great first draft, so were just going to keep moving forward until someone stops us.”
On a post-playing career in entertainment
“I developed an interest in media while playing in the late ’80s-early ’90s, which is when national sports media started coming around more, when ESPN got more legitimate. I was interested in the production side pretty early on.
“Now, my advice to super-rich athletes (interested in producing): become an investor and hire the best lawyers you can. If you want to be more of an investor you can smartly do that, especially now with the fractioning of distribution. Within sports specifically, but entertainment in general, you can fund projects a lot of different ways these days. And content made by very smart people can make money.”
Mandalay Entertainment CEO/chairman
On what fans need and what that means for new Los Angeles Dodger ownership
“You’ve got to win on the field, and also in the hearts and minds of your audience. You’ve got to remember you’re in the experience business.
“Somewhere around 85% of people come into stadiums with either a smartphone or a feature phone to which they are habituated, maybe even addicted. They don’t want to be passengers anymore, like they did in their dad’s day. They want to be participants. They want to engage in the process. They want to feel they make a difference and bring something of their own selves to the experience.
“I won’t be shy. The investment I made makes me not shy. … I participate across the board, but essentially the core of my participation is with the fan experience. I’ve built all these stadiums and studios and theaters, so I’m contributing in that area. I’m fully invested in the entertainment quotient of the company. Remember, the Dodgers are not just a baseball team, they’re an enterprise, and there are a lot of pieces in that.
“I have a background in location-based entertainment and what it takes to put butts in seats, sell tickets, sponsorships, and being able to participate in the larger issues that govern the process for a $2.15 billion enterprise. That’s what I do.
“I expect to have an impact on issues like digital media for social engagement, both online and in-arena in terms of utilizing the impact today of digital technologies, and a user interface that allows people to interact with fans and players and the team. Mobile is going to play a larger part in fan activation. I expect to see the entertainment quotient recognized because right now, all you can do in Dodger Stadium for the last several years is sit in a seat and watch a baseball game.
“If you see how we engaged in Frisco and Dayton and the other cities that we’ve been in, we’re deeply involved in fan experiences and relationships, not just transactions with the audience. Becoming an important part of the community is one of the assets we bring to the Dodgers and the Warriors. The idea is, location-based entertainment depends upon a rich and robust relationship with the audience and fan base — to become part of the community, not something separate from the community.”
“Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” host
On how sports and entertainment influence each other
“Since the entertainment industry is now so broadly defined and ultra-competitive, athletes put a premium on not just winning, but doing so in an entertaining fashion … one that will generate attention for not just what they do, but also how they do it.
“That’s not necessarily a good thing. It’s what compels today’s basketball players to go for the highlight dunk instead of the surefire layup, or today’s football players to go for a lights-out hit instead of a surefire tackle. They’re all looking to make a highlight reel, often to the detriment of their team’s objective.”
Fox Sports Media Group chairman/CEO
On sports and culture
“Sports have made their way through everything. You listen to every politician talk he’s using sports phrases. Sports are so intertwined with the fabric of society there is no going back.”
NBC Sports Group chairman
On why size (of screen and star power) matters
“I don’t think people want to watch the entire Super Bowl on a mobile device. You’re going to look for the biggest screen you can find so you can see everything. Fans want to have an experience like they’re there, and they can with the sorts of large-screen TVs that are available now. You might want to use a mobile device for things like interacting with other fans, but I think you’ll always want to see your team on the biggest screen available.
“There’s a lot of benefit when an entertainer like Madonna does a Super Bowl half-time show. You’ll attract a lot more casual fans to the event and when they’re watching, that means there are more opportunities for tie-ins to other shows and products.”
Turner sales, distribution and sports prexy
On the ceaseless programming draw of sports
“Sports is like nothing else. When media changes and people start watching their shows in a different way, sports will still be appointment television. You’re still going to want to see it as it happens. In that way, sports defies all the changes in media that are happening.
“We’re not a 24-hour sports network, but we’re still able to be competitive by focusing on bringing great events that our viewer wants to see to the screen.”
NBA Entertainment exec
On the entertainment quotient of an NBA game
“The entertainment that you get at a basketball game is just like going to a rock concert, it’s top-notch.
“You can go to any 30 of our teams in any 30 arenas — well, 29 because at Staples you get both teams — and between the music, the dance teams, mascots, the special halftimes that they bring in, the contests, sponsorship activations, you put all of that together, and 10 to 12 concerts a night that are happening across the league, the energy that you get in our buildings and the level of sophistication of our teams in regards to entertainment when you look at the introduction videos — this high quality production that’s happening across the NBA.
“And what we do is we go out — I manage a group and we go out and look at each team, take the best practice of each team and tell other teams, this is working, this is fun, the crowds are reacting to this entertainment.
“Our players aren’t just great athletes, they’re also pop-culture icons. So you have that asset in your arena every night. So besides just watching these players play the game, we know they’re entertaining off the court as well — in regard to their social media tweets or their Facebook pages or their updates. And our teams have figured out to also use our players as an entertainment focus on the arena boards. So you get that player-fan interaction. Even if it’s as simple as, ‘Hey, crowd, make some noise.’ “
Radio and TV personality
On the role of entertainment at sporting events, and the evolution of sports programming
“I think it has changed. I think they want to make sure when they get fans in that stadium they get the complete entertainment experience. … We’ve got season tickets to the Angels, and you go to those games and they don’t want down time. Between innings, they’re pumping you back up and they’re pushing some other message across the platform, and they’re making sure that you get your bang for the buck.
“I mean, you look at the intros to the NBA Finals and the games, it’s no longer about the game itself, it’s the total and complete entertainment experience.
“If they think that they can get people to come to the ballpark without having a competitive team on the field, they’re begging. I mean, if the team sucks, we’re not coming no matter how good the music is or how many T-shirts they shoot off into the crowd. … At the end of the day you better win more games than you lose, or they’re not paying top dollar to come out.
“It’s an amazing thing to me. My first big opportunity was in 1990 at the Mighty 690, 690 AM in San Diego. I can remember working in local radio in Santa Barbara, and I was standing over the AP wire machine, and I remember that thing coming across that 690 AM was going all sports. At that time, it was only the second all-sports station in America. There was no content, no programming. Nobody was doing it except FAN in New York.
“And now I look at my network and I’ve got like 250 stations. There are markets than I’m in now with four different sports-talk stations in their own market alone.
“So on the way up, there weren’t a lot of opportunities, and there wasn’t a ton of competition because there just weren’t that many outlets for it. Now, it’s everywhere. You’re competing to be heard, and there are so many voices, so many different places where people can get their information, entertainment, that you need to be relevant. You need to be competitive. And you better be on Twitter, and you better be on Facebook, and you better be on TV and you better be on radio. It’s a means for competing. You have to be out there.”
Ultimate Fighting Championshp prexy
On the ways movies influence sports coverage
“Sports movies have always been so big in Hollywood and so inspiring. Sports movies in the entertainment world really inspire us. They ignite a spark in us to achieve goals or chase dreams.
“When we bought the UFC, my partner Lorenzo (Fertitta and I) had never done production. I had never looked through the lens of a camera. We knew what we wanted … we looked to bring the thrill of movies to sports. The two fighters talking about the fight that night and then a montage of them knocking people out — that’s our trailer. Entertainment has heavily influenced the UFC. Whether it’s adding 3D and HD or cool cameras from movies, we bring (them) in.”
Heroes with humanity
SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT IMPACT REPORT
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