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Sports summit tackles social media

Panel says it creates a dedicated fan base

2011 VARIETY’S SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT SUMMIT

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At the Thursday panel titled “Conquering Social Media: How Do We Best Engage Fans Now” at Variety’s Sports Entertainment Summit, Perkins Miller, chief operating officer of Universal Sports Networks, said social media has created more devoted and aggressive TV viewers.

Miller also gave the examples of equestrian and cycling as sports that social media has brought lots more fans to his network.

Nick Grudin of Facebook said the Los Angeles Lakers have 9 million fans on their Facebook page, but only 4.5 million in the Los Angeles area, so it’s clear that social media has brought in fans from all over.

But even social media has its limits. Grudin also said the NBA as a whole has 85 million Facebook friends, and Omid Ashtari of Twitter also complimented the NBA on the innovative ways it connects to fans via Twitter. Maybe all of those followers can put pressure on the parties involved to end the lockout.

The subject of check-ins was a big topic at the panel as well.

Social media allows fans — and athletes — to check in at different destinations online, and then companies can know where fans are watching and who they’re watching with, and send other people to them and build more community.

People want to watch sports together, the panelists agreed, and if they can’t connect physically, they can do so online. There’s a lot of business in sharing these days, and Ashtari said it helps to better understand the consumer.

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