Rank #1: Nick Robinson
ISC helps create partnerships for a variety of rights-holder and brand clients, but is perhaps best known for representing athletes and players across football, rugby and several Olympic and Paralympic sports.
Nick cut his teeth at boutique talent agency AMI Sports and Entertainment before joining Octagon in 2009, where he was head of football and represented the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Saido Berahino.
On the podcast, Nick discusses:
- The case for sports agents - why they're needed and play an important industry role
- Why many talent agencies are missing out by not being multi-faceted
- What it's like being an agent during a transfer window
- Why commercial deals for athletes not at the very peak of their sport are challenging to find
- The reasons behind Premier League clubs making a cumulative net profit this transfer window
- Rising costs for fans - and why sporting stakeholders need to control them better.
Feb 15 2017
Rank #2: Graham Fry
Graham Fry, Worldwide Managing Director for Production at sports agency giant IMG, is the featured interview on this week's edition of SB Weekly.
IMG is the UK’s largest independent TV producer, and is perhaps best known in sporting circles for running the English Premier League Channel, which delivers an all-year-round, 24-hour-a-day content service to every Premier League rights-holder across the world. Graham has a long and illustrious career in the broadcast industry, having joined BBC Sport in the early 80s before moving on to IMG in 1991 as an executive producer for live golf. He has been at IMG ever since.
Listen to this week's episode to hear Graham discuss the growth in size and depth of the Premier League's broadcast coverage, and why IMG plays an important role in the league's strong brand and marketability; why sports production companies' margins are being squeezed - and what IMG is doing to combat that; why virtual reality is a technological development broadcasters and rights-holders need to grasp with both hands; opportunities for IMG's production arm internationally, in Asia and India specifically; the highlights of his career to date; and what broadcast technology trends he believes we should be looking out for.
Jul 06 2016
Rank #3: Drew Barrand
Drew Barrand, Marketing Director of the English Football League (EFL), is a featured interview on this week's SB Weekly.
The EFL is the world’s oldest and original league football competition and currently comprises the 72 teams playing in the English Championship, League One and League Two. Drew became Marketing Director in 2014 following stints at Pitch PR and Benchmark Sport, and originally started his career as a journalist specialising in sports marketing.
In the podcast Drew discusses why the Football League needed to be re-branded to the EFL, and what the re-branding exercise showed about your average rights-holder's inability to effectively market itself; how the rebrand can help boost revenues for the 72 clubs, and where huge opportunities lie outside the UK; what impact the EFL's new digital partners Realise and NeuLion will have; getting long-term buy-in in a traditionally short-term, sales-focused football industry; the challenges of getting cut-through in the saturated sports and entertainment market; and why the sports industry needs to be more honest about how slowly it is developing.
Jul 27 2016
Rank #4: No Holds Barred - January 2017
No Holds Barred is the podcast from SB Weekly where three leading sports executives reveal their industry bugbears, question accepted wisdom, and try to make sense of the major developments currently impacting the global business of sport.
Each guest comes armed with a view on an industry topic that’s been piquing their interest over recent weeks, and in a 60-second spiel explains exactly why they feel strongly about it, who’s going wrong and where, and what the implications could be for various sectors of the business.
Nothing’s off limits, and the person who argues their case the best will be declared No Holds Barred winner and receive something far better than a trophy - industry kudos.
In January 2017's No Holds Barred Matt Cutler is joined by Ben Wells (Former Marketing Director of Chelsea FC), Dan Ayers (Lead Consultant at Seven League) and Charlie Dundas (Commercial Director at SMG Insight), and topics discussed include:
- Why sports organisations need to stop focusing on sales, and shift it to long-term strategy
- Who is best-placed to release the digital product that kills pirate streaming of live sport
- The need for rights-holders to work harder to understand who their fanbase is.
Jan 25 2017
Rank #5: Rob Mitchell
Rob Mitchell, commercial director at Premier League football club AFC Bournemouth, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
Bournemouth are one of the extraordinary success stories of English football. Struggling in the fourth-tier less than a decade ago, the Cherries are now in their second Premier League season and thriving under manager Eddie Howe.
Rob’s been with the club throughout that rollercoaster journey, joining in 2008 following stints at creative design agency the Cedar Group and rival south-coast team Southampton.
On the podcast, Rob discusses:
- How his commercial revenue target has increased by 750%
- The club's investment into Big Data and understanding its fanbase better
- How his team is approaching selling its sleeve sponsorship, a new piece of Premier League inventory
- Why a new stadium will be a commercial game-changer for the club
- How Bournemouth is positioning itself to attract more multi-national companies as sponsors
- Why a new website will be a key piece of additional sponsor inventory going forward.
Jan 18 2017
Rank #6: Ben Morel
Ben Morel, SVP at the National Basketball Association and Managing Director for operations across EMEA, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
Ben originally joined the NBA from cosmetics giant L'Oréal in 1998, and nearly 20 years later he’s still going strong, overseeing the basketball league’s media distribution, events, merchandising and sponsorship activities this side of the Atlantic.
On the podcast, Ben discusses:
- How UK interest in the NBA has undergone huge growth over the last 12 months
- Why having more games in London isn't integral for further growth in Europe
- Initiatives to turn casual basketball observers into active, loyal consumers
- The significant investment being made into grassroots that doesn't make headlines
- Why he hopes the battle for control in European club basketball reaches an amicable resolution, and soon
- Why Virtual Reality could be a game-changer in how basketball is consumed at home and on the move.
Jan 11 2017
Rank #7: Daniel Geey
Leading football lawyer Daniel Geey is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
Currently a partner at sports and media law firm Sheridans, Daniel was involved in the recent American takeover of Swansea City, and is currently preparing for a busy winter football transfer window, opening after the Christmas break.
On the podcast, Daniel discusses:
- Working with and advising young footballing talent
- What's underpinning the recent wave of Premier League club investment
- The huge challenge illegal streaming presents to large rights-holders
- How all sports stakeholders need to pay serious attention to data security
- The potential impact of Brexit and Trump on the football industry.
Dec 28 2016
Rank #8: Elliot Richardson
Elliot Richardson, President and Co-Founder of digital football platform Dugout, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
Launched officially at the end of November - following months of industry hype - Dugout publishes exclusive content featuring some of Europe’s biggest clubs and footballers, and is touted as a way for those same clubs and players to both grow their fanbases, and better monetise their digital footprints.
To date, Dugout boasts an enviable portfolio of partners that includes Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester City, Gareth Bale and Neymar, with more announced on an almost weekly basis.
On the podcast, Elliot explains:
- Why Dugout isn't a Facebook for Football - despite media descriptions
- How football fandom forms in a different way compared to decades ago
- How both the platform and clubs benefit from data insight around content
- What content works best, and how that's judged
- Why he believes Dugout will succeed where other digital projects in the past have failed
- What the sports industry can learn from his background in the insurance sector.
Dec 21 2016
Rank #9: Matt Stevenson
Matt Stevenson, Head of Sports Sponsorship at mobile operator EE, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
EE has over 27 million customers in the UK, making it the region’s biggest mobile network, and last year it was acquired by BT for £12.5 billion, creating a formidable new telecoms giant for the UK market.
In a career that’s included stints at Nike and O2, Matt has over 20 years of brand and communications experience - most of which has been dedicated to sponsorship and partnership activations - and at EE he leads the company’s sports sponsorship portfolio which includes Wembley Stadium, for which EE is the lead partner.
On the podcast, Matt explains the importance of using EE's sponsorship portfolio to improve the fan and customer experience; how EE and Wembley have built a strong rights-holder/brand partnership; why social media influencers are becoming more and more powerful, and useful to brands; and the reason EE isn't ready to move into e-sports...quite yet.
Nov 30 2016
Rank #10: Dan Roan
BBC News Sports Editor Dan Roan is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
A familiar face and voice to sports fans across the world, Dan covers a wide range of sports news and business stories for the public-service broadcaster's TV, radio and online platforms, which include the One, Six and 10 O'Clock News; Radio 4's Today programme, 5 Live and the BBC News Channel.
Dan’s been at the BBC on and off since 1998, when he first joined as a trainee, and over that period he’s secured exclusive interviews with the likes of Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Sepp Blatter, Bernie Ecclestone and Thomas Bach, the latter of whom he quizzed recently on the topic of doping, and Russia’s participation in this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
On the podcast, Dan explains how he has landed some of the sport business' biggest exclusives during a tumultuous two years for sports news, how he builds rapports with senior sports executives, and how he approaches the sometimes fractious relationship between journalism and PR.
Nov 23 2016
Rank #11: Scott Bowers
Scott Bowers, Director of Communications at The Jockey Club, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
The Jockey Club is the largest commercial group in British horseracing, owning and running 15 of the UK’s leading racecourses including Cheltenham, Aintree and Epsom Downs.
Scott’s been there for nearly seven years now, and was last month inducted into the Leaders Under 40 Class of 2016 in recognition of his contribution to record racecourse attendances and revenues.
Previous to the Jockey Club Scott was Head of Sport at PR firm Weber Shandwick, where he worked on several international award-winning campaigns, including Sochi's successful bid to host the 2014 Olympic Games.
On the podcast, Scott discusses the importance of external and internal communications for the long-term health of a major sports organisation, the importance of transparency and maintaining healthy relationships with the media, and why he believes sports organisations need to better understand the crossover between their communications and marketing functions.
Nov 16 2016
Rank #12: Roger Mitchell
Roger Mitchell, the former Chief Executive of the Scottish Premier League, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
An accountant by trade, Roger has held a number of senior roles in a number of sectors, but rose to prominence in the sports industry when he left his job as CFO of EMI Music in Italy to become the inaugural CEO of the SPL in 1998.
He spent four-and-a-half years there and was responsible for all administrative, organisational and football issues. He also became a Member of UEFA’s Professional Football Committee.
Today, Roger spends his time advising a variety of sport businesses, investing in tech and media start-ups, and is the Chairman of publisher GiveMeSport, a go-to destination for sports news, opinion and features.
On the podcast, Roger talks about why GiveMeSport's raison d'être has changed over the years; how start-ups go bad; why the club football elite is only going to get stronger - and at the expense of numerous former club giants; his future ambitions; and how he sees the sports digital landscape evolving.
Nov 09 2016
Rank #13: Paul Blanchard
Paul Blanchard, Chief Executive of Commonwealth Games England, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
Paul’s a well-known figure in the UK sports industry and in a long and distinguished sports industry career has been, to name only a few of his positions: Marketing Manager of Ladbrokes; Marketing Director of the Scottish Premier League; Head of Sales and Marketing at Southampton Football Club; Chief Executive of Harlequins Rugby League; and Sales and Marketing Director at Surrey County Cricket Club.Paul joined Commonwealth Games England in the summer last year, and is charged with strengthening the governing body’s commercial operation while also ensuring English athletes are given the best possible support in the build-up to the Gold Coast Games in 2018.
On the podcast, hear Paul talk about the new commercial strategy he's drawn up for the body, the reaction from brands, what CGE will be looking for in a 2026 preferred bidding city and the highlights of his 25+ years in the sports industry.
Nov 01 2016
Rank #14: James Grigg
James Grigg, Director of International Operations at Turner Sports-owned digital media company Bleacher Report, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
James joined Bleacher a year ago having previously been COO of fanatix, the sports video clip-sharing platform, and Distribution Director of Sportech, the pool betting operator and technology supplier.
Bleacher Report currently reaches more than 400 million people globally - 80% of which are under the age of 34.
On the podcast, hear James talk about Bleacher Report's strategy on Snapchat Discover and Facebook Live, new ways of monetising content on third-party media platforms, and frustrations around not having universal measurements of engagement around digital content.
Oct 25 2016
Rank #15: Rob Mills
Rob Mills, CEO of Gemba, the agency providing insight, strategy and communications services to brands and rights-holders operating in the sports and entertainment sectors is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
It was in adidas' Australia office where Rob cut his teeth in sports marketing, and in a decade’s stint he climbed the ranks to reach marketing director, a position in which he was responsible for the sportswear giant’s brand, communications and distribution strategy. He was also part of the adidas Global Olympic Strategy team.
Rob left in 2001 to start his own agency, Prisma, which became Gemba in 2006 following its merger with Crowe Lovett.
In this week's episode, hear Rob discuss:
- The importance of approaching the sport and entertainment sectors together, not separately
- Using data and insight to help build strong and effective brand campaigns
- How and why Gemba is ramping up its operations in China
- The thinking process behind leaving adidas to go out on his own
- Taking the risky decision to drop the Australian Olympic team ahead of Sydney 2000
- Why the sports industry needs to get better at, and be more open to, recognising transferable skills.
Oct 19 2016
Rank #16: James McLaughlin
James McLaughlin, the agent of cricketer Jonathan Trott and commercial brains behind new football agency 73 Management, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
James has held a number of senior roles in sport since the '90s, first as Head of Sales at Southampton Football Club. He followed that with a stint at Nike and two lengthy periods as Commercial Director of both Watford Football Club and Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
In 2012 he was asked by then World Cricketer of the Year Trott to become his agent and, this August, launched 73 - which describes itself as “a new football management service - designed by footballers, for footballers” - alongside former Southampton players Matt Le Tissier and Francis Benali.
In this week's episode, hear James discuss:
- Why 73 is focusing on managing a footballer's career, rather than simply commercial exploitation
- Jonathan Trott's recent autobiography - and why now was the right time to release it
- The challenge he faced in 2013 being in the UK when Trott returned home from the Ashes in Australia
- Signing Jaguar as the £30m hospitality naming rights partner of Edgbaston - the proudest commercial deal of his career
- How cricketers tend to understand the value of commercial partnerships more than footballers
- Why football clubs could, and should, look more long-term in their sponsorship selection.
Oct 05 2016
Rank #17: Jackie Fast
Jackie Fast, Founder and Managing Director of strategic sales agency Slingshot Sponsorship, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
Slingshot cuts across all entertainment industries and creates - in its own words - “a strategic commercial framework that helps the world’s leading brands take their investment beyond eyeballs and awareness”.
Since its foundation in 2010 Slingshot has worked with high-profile clients including Red Bull, Nationwide and the Mayor of London and Jackie herself has won a number of accolades recognising her entrepreneurial and industry work.
In this week's episode, hear Jackie discuss:
- Why she set up Slingshot in 2010, following the global recession
- What it's like to be a woman in a male-dominated sports industry
- How sports rights-holders need to be more open to creating partnerships - rather than dressing up sponsorships as partnerships
- The secret to being a good salesperson
- Why she struggled to find a vocation in life before working in sponsorship
- The opportunities presented by better understanding purchase behaviour.
Sep 27 2016
Rank #18: Murray Barnett
Murray Barnett, Head of Broadcast, Commercial and Marketing at World Rugby, the global governing body for rugby union, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
Murray’s background is in TV. He first cut his teeth in the sports industry at the NBA, where he was International TV Coordinator, before going on to spend over a decade at sports broadcast giant ESPN, eventually heading Sports Channels and Syndication across EMEA.
Murray joined World Rugby in 2013, and in his current position is responsible for driving forward and delivering the organisation’s broadcast, marketing and digital media strategies.
You can hear Murray discuss:
- The global growth strategy for rugby union
- Why World Rugby is an unashamed money-making organisation
- Managing the balance between cash and exposure in broadcast deals
- Why the pace of change in sports broadcasting isn't as fast as many make out
- The conscious decision not to take money from betting companies
- Why All Black dominance has a downside when looking to grow the sport globally
- Why Virtual Reality won't transform the live experience anytime soon.
Sep 20 2016
Rank #19: Charlie McEwen
Charlie McEwen, Chief Operating Officer of one of world sport’s most celebrated international teams, the British & Irish Lions, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
Charlie has a long and distinguished career in rugby, previously working on both the brand and rights-holder side in senior positions at agencies Octagon and Essentially.
He joined the Lions in 2010 as Director of Sales and Marketing and was promoted to COO a year ago, a position in which he is currently planning for the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017.
You can hear Charlie talk about...
...the Lions brand
"It stands for the best of best. That means from the playing side to administration we either do it well, or we don't do it at all."
...signing Lions partners
"The challenge isn't generating interest, it's making sure we hit the right level from a financial perspective."
...new kit supplier Canterbury
"The success we've seen to date is exceptional because they really understand the opportunity. They're really going to bask in the glory of a Lions tour."
...the commercial health of rugby in 2016
"More fans are coming to games, more people are playing, there's a huge appetite corporately and from broadcasters...rugby's in a good place."
"We're a bright star that shines for a very short time...if we tried to extend it too far, fans would be exhausted when the main event comes around."
"There's a place for it, but ultimately people are diving into second-screening because they're not immersed in what's going on on the pitch."
...playing a Lions in a new country en route to New Zealand next year
"We had 13 different locations pitch for the opportunity...but to be best prepared to win we need to get to New Zealand as soon as possible."
Sep 13 2016
Rank #20: Barry Hearn
Barry Hearn, founder of Matchroom Sport, is the feature interview on this week's SB Weekly.
As a sports promoter Barry’s been a prominent figure on the UK sporting scene for a number of decades, first with snooker in the 1970s, then with boxing in the 1980s followed by darts in the 1990s. He was also chairman of Leyton Orient football club from 1995 to 2014.
Though his son Eddie now manages Matchroom’s interests in boxing, Barry’s still very much involved in snooker - as the owner of World Snooker, the world governing body’s commercial arm - and darts, as chairman of the PDC, the Professional Darts Corporation.
You can hear Barry talk about such things as...
...the secrets of his success
"I'm tough to beat on work ethic. I like to win and I know most of my opposition won't make the same amount of effort."
...his public perception
"Behind the barrow boy is a chartered accountant - I'm a freak with figures and live for balance sheets."
"At the moment my word still counts for something. But I'm sure it will start to count less and less."
...sitting at the negotiation table
"It's like being with your dentist: you grab his testicles and say, 'Neither of us are going to hurt each other, are we?'"
...his foray into football
"I like to think I'm this tough guy, but I must have a soft centre...my heart and my wallet merged together"
...the secrets to promoting a sports event
"It's so easy; it's pure common sense...but you'd be surprised by how many get it wrong."
...sports industry snobbery
"People look at me, thinking, 'Darts? Those fat blokes throwing those things? It's not like that down my rugby club'. It really pisses me off."
"Many want to buy it, but I'd never sell it. If I did, what would I do? Could you see me as a PLC chairman? Come on."
Sep 06 2016