Digitally Activated: Sports Centered

A Look at Online Sports Activations

Archive for the ‘MLS’ Category

A Vision for Univision

with 2 comments

Hispanic male consumers age 18-49 –  A targeted demographic for marketers, and an emerging consumer base for properties.  The interests of both intersect with Univision.

Univision has positioned itself as the preeminent network for Spanish language sports.  The large audiences which the network attracted for its World Cup broadcasts thrust the network into the forefront of sports media stories throughout the summer; however, its acquisition of the United States broadcast rights to  Mexican National Team matches leading up to the 2014 World Cup may have been the network’s most significant achievement of 2010. 

The Mexico vs. Ecuador match on September 4th attracted 2.7 million viewers, helping the network become the most viewed channel amongst 18-49 year-olds for the week.  This was the first time a Spanish language network had beat out its English counterparts in this significant demographic.  The match broadcast may have not been the primary reason for the network winning the ratings battle; however, the ratings bump which the network received on a Saturday night was of critical importance.    Furthermore, Univision’s exclusive rights to MNT matches enables the channel to drive its business interests with multi-platform content.

Prior to the Ecuador match, Univision announced a partnership with AT&T to deliver MNT matches to AT&T Mobile TV subscribers.  This deal was made possible due to AT&T’s existing relationship with the MNT through Soccer United Marketing, and Univision’s broadcast agreement with the MNT, highlighting the complexity of the digital sports landscape.  Additionally, the AT&T deal is a manifestation of the adept leadership at the network. 

Univision was able to secure the Mobile TV rights in addition to its broadcast rights.  Mobile TV rights have been the providence of governing bodies in the United States.   The network’s ability to procure these rights from the FMF was not only a coup for the network’s bottom line, but I believe its reputation amongst the three major sports leagues in the United States.   Univision’s partnership with the NFL to launch demonstrates the increasing importance the network will have on the future domestic growth of the NFL, NBA and MLB. 

Whether you are considered to be a general market property (NFL) or a Hispanic focused property (MNT/MLS), Univision’s hegemony of the Spanish-speaking audience in the United States is a necessity.    The networks youthful audience (55.2% 18-49 compared to CBS’ 31.5%) is in concert with the Hispanic population’s demographic (49.5% between 18-49 compared to the non-Hispanics 44.8%), providing properties a forum to generate sustainable domestic growth. 

We continue to wait for Versus to evolve into a legitimate challenger to ESPN’s crown – which may very well happen if Congress ever approves the Comcast / NBC Universal merger – and continue to neglect an over-the-air network that delivers a premium audience to advertisers.  Don’t keep the blinders on too long, because there’s a horse gaining ground down the stretch.


Boost your image with Chivas de Guadalajara

leave a comment »

10 days, 2 trips to PPL Park.  My first trip was with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) for the Union’s match against Chivas de Guadalajara (9/1), and the second was with Fox Soccer Channel for the Union’s match against the Chicago Fire (9/11).  While I was fulfilling different roles – marketing operations and broadcast production – my trips to Philadelphia enabled me to asses SUM’s partners activation practices from multiple vantage points.  While I was impressed with many of our partners on-site presence,   I was most impressed with Boost Mobile’s activation of its Chivas sponsorship (disclaimer: I work for SUM’s partnership marketing department but not on the Boost account).

Boost’s launched its sponsorship of the 2010 Chivas Tour with an in-store autograph session with Chivas legend Missael Espinoza.  The event was promoted on a Spanish language radio station in Philadelphia, and the radio station was on-site for a remote broadcast.  Furthermore, Boost built a cause marketing initiative into Missael’s appearance. The brand donated a $1,000 dollars to a local organization which enhances the educational opportunities of children from low-income families.  The in-store event was a modest success; however, the brand was able to maximize its on-site activation at PPL Park.

Boost had three distinct activation areas at SUM’s pre-game event zone “Futbol Fiesta”.  The first was a lounge area where fans were able to escape the interminable Philadelphia heat and relax on sofas provided by the brand.  The second was a miniature soccer field where attendees were encouraged to participate in a juggling contest, and the third was a skills area were fans were challenged to demonstrate their accuracy on penalty kicks.  In the middle of the three areas, Missael was on-hand to sign autographs for the more than 5,000 visitors to Futbol Fiesta.  The success of Boost’s on-site activation was attributable to the brand’s ability to speak to its consumer, and the Chivas consumer at the same time.

The brand fit between the Chivas property and Boost enables the partnership to ‘boost’ the profile of both the property and brand.  Boost is known for its ability to speak young minorities, first with the comical “Where you at” advertising campaign, and then with its partnerships with hip-hop artists Game, Ludacris, Kanye West, Fat Joe and Young Jeezy.  The Chivas fan base is a predominantly young-male, Mexican immigrants.  An obvious target of Boost Mobile, which defines itself as the phone company which does not require its customers to sign contracts.

Boost’s partnership with SUM and the Chivas property enables the brand to speak to an audience familiar with its message, and engineer substantial brand equity with these potential consumers.  Translating the brand equity into receipts at the register will be contingent on more variables than its Chivas sponsorship, but the sponsorship allows Boost to place itself within a community which is of significant interest to the company.  We will have to wait and see the results.

Written by Peter Amador

September 14, 2010 at 7:36 PM

Major League Soccer Fan Demographics

with 6 comments

It’s almost over! My paper “MLS Sponsorship: Activating to Increase Brand Equity” is close to being complete, and I will be a graduate of the University of San Francisco’s, Sport Management Graduate Program, on Wednesday.

I wanted to share with you the results section of my paper.  It is a little dry, but if you are interested in Major League Soccer, or interested in possible sponsorship opportunities, it may be of benefit to you.  Incase you have not read my post, “Can VW sell more cars because of its MLS Sponsorship?” survey participants were recruited from the Facebook pages of five MLS teams.

If you have any questions about my results, please do not hesitate to ask.  I welcome any inquiries about my work.

In all, 231 questionnaires were collected.  Due to incomplete responses, 29 of the questionnaires had to be discarded.  The margin of error for survey results is 7%.

Los Angeles Galaxy fans accounted for 27.2% of survey respondents.  The remaining fan bases and their corresponding percentages were: Real Salt Lake (20.8%), Houston Dynamo (17.3%), New York Red Bulls (14.9%), Seattle Sounders FC (13.9%), and other (5.9%). 63.4% of Survey respondents ranked their MLS team as their favorite professional sports franchise, and another 17.8% ranked it as their second favorite.

An overwhelmingly majority (77.7%) of survey respondents were male.  Notable, when compared to Facebook statistics that show 56% of Facebook users are female (Inside Facebook, 2010).  Caucasian (65.0%) was the ethnicity most cited by respondents.  Over three-quarters (77.7%) of survey respondents were 37 years of age or younger, only 63% of Facebook users are 35 years of age or younger.  The age brackets and their corresponding percentages are shown in the graph below.

Survey participants were highly educated, 48.3% reported having a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.  Education levels and their corresponding percentages were: high school (33.8%), Bachelor’s Degree (31.8%), graduate degree (16.5%), trade school (4.0%), and Associate’s Degree (13.9%).

A majority of survey respondents (60.9%) reported having attended ten or more matches in their lifetime, an additional 15.8% have attended between 4-9 matches. Moreover, 82.7% of survey respondents attended a MLS match in 2009, with 56.9% of survey respondents attending five or more matches.  Their past experiences are indicative of future consumption habits, 81.2% responded that they will “definitely attend a MLS match in 2010”.  Additionally, respondents were active followers of their MLS team on the Internet; 86.6% of respondents reported visiting their MLS team’s Web site within a week of taking the survey, with 69.4% of survey respondents visiting the team’s Web site within 24 hours of taking the survey.  More survey respondents reported watching a Spanish language television channel – for more than ten minutes – in the past month (48.5%), than those that have never watched a Spanish language television channel (23.3%).

Hispanic was the second most identified ethnicity by survey respondents at 24.8%.  The majority of Hispanic respondents (76%) were first-generation Americans, and the remaining 24% were immigrants.  Respondents identifying their ancestry with Spain did not classify themselves as Hispanic, as did a few respondents of Caribbean, Central American, or Spanish-speaking South American decent. When all respondents from these regions were included in the Hispanic demographic, they accounted for 31.1% of survey respondents. The geographic identity of these respondents were concentrated in three regions: Central America (31.7%) Mexico (30.2%), and Spanish-speaking South America (23.8%).

Volkswagen had the highest fan-recognition level amongst MLS Official Sponsors, and was the only sponsor to be recognized by more than 50% of survey respondents.  Budweiser was the only other sponsor to have a fan-recognition level which exceeded the uncertainty response.  The chart below shows the official sponsor and its recognition rate from the survey.

Fan Recognition Rate for MLS Official Sponsors
Volkswagen 55.50%
Budweiser 47.50%
Gatorade 36.60%
AT&T 33.70%
American Airlines 26.20%
Visa 25.20%
Degree Deodorant 21.80%

Survey respondents did not believe a MLS sponsorship would affect their consumption habits, 55.4% of survey respondents stated they are not more likely to regularly consume a product/service because it is a MLS sponsor – 43.1% stated they were more likely – and 58.9% stated that they are not more likely to refer a product/service to a family member or friend because it is a MLS sponsor (40.1% are more likely).

Written by Peter Amador

May 16, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Hispanic Millennials: The Future of MLS

with 3 comments

Major League Soccer’s future success is contingent upon its ability to market its game to first and second generation Hispanic-Americans. 

The United States Census Bureau estimates there are 48 million Hispanics living in the United States, a number which is expected to increase to 73 million by 2030.  I contend that this figure will be driven by an increase in American born Hispanics, opposed to immigration.  Arizona may be considered a rogue state today, but we are a nation which is increasingly moving right of center. However politically untenable the situation may become, I believe the rate of illegal immigration will decrease in the coming decades.  Thus, any increase in the Hispanic population of the United States will be attributable to an increase in birth rates; a development which my statistics suggest will serve MLS well.      

I recently recruited 202 survey participants from the Facebook fan pages of five MLS teams, and Hispanics accounted for 25% of survey participants. I acknowledge the economic bias of my recruitment method; however, I contend the disparity between immigrants and first-generation survey participants is indeed indicative of a trend amongst MLS fans.  

First-generation Americans accounted for 76% of Hispanic respondents, with immigrants accounting for the remaining 24%.  The lack of second-generation Hispanic-Americans, indicates first-generation Hispanic-Americans of the Baby Boomer generation assimilated into American culture through football, basketball and baseball, and did not communicate a passion for soccer to their children.  First-generation Hispanic-Americans from Generation X did not face the discrimination of their predecessors, and gravitated to soccer without the fear of being ostracized.  This generation will produce a second-generation of Hispanic-Americans whom share a passion for soccer with their fathers.  However, to maximize the potential of the Hispanic demographic, MLS must attract more Mexican-Americans to its games.       

Mexican-Americans account for 68% of Hispanics in the United States, but only 30% of Hispanic survey respondents.  It has been theorized that Mexican-Americans have been slow to adopt MLS because of the availability of Mexican First Division matches on Spanish language television in the United States.  Mexican-Americans can continue to follow teams in their native country, unlike their Central and South American counterparts.  Furthermore, the escalating rivalry amongst the national teams of Mexico and the United States, inhibits many Mexican immigrants from accepting any form of American soccer.  Mexican immigrants’ indignation towards American soccer will not transcend generations.

MLS provides first-generation Hispanic-Americans the opportunity to define their American identity, without abandoning their cultural attachment to the sport of soccer.  First-generation Hispanic-Americans from Generation X have proven that they will embrace MLS.  Therefore, it stands to reason that first-generation Hispanic-Americans of the Millennial generation will continue to gravitate to the league.  Their support, in conjunction with their second-generation counterparts, provides a reassuring confidence to MLS; the only professional sports league which is expanding domestically.

Written by Peter Amador

May 12, 2010 at 9:27 AM

Can VW sell more cars because of its MLS sponsorship?

leave a comment »

Volkswagen was recognized as the Official Automotive Sponsor (OAS) of Major League Soccer by 55.0% of the 202 Major League Soccer fans I surveyed in the past month.  To put that into perspective, GM is the OAS of MLB and the NFL.  GM’s 2009 recognition levels for those two properties were 31.4% and 30.0%, respectively (SportsBusiness Journal, Feb. 15-21, 2010).  Additionally, a SBJ and Turnkey Intelligence poll conducted the week prior to this year’s Super Bowl, revealed 30.7% of Avid NFL Fans could correctly identify GM as the leagues OAS (SportsBusiness Journal, Mar. 1-7, 2010).  If I were to use a similar guideline to distinguish Avid MLS Fans – fans stating that their MLS team is their 1st or 2nd favorite professional sports team, and have attended 10 or more MLS matches in their life – Volkswagen would have a fan-recognition level of 61.4% (70/114).  It would be difficult to postulate that a MLS sponsorship is more effective than a sponsorship with MLB, NFL or NBA; however, with the statistics from my survey, we can begin to examine the merits of a MLS sponsorship. 

Here is a brief description of how I recruited survey participants:

202 Major League Soccer (MLS) fans were surveyed from March 10 – April 15th, 2010.   Respondents were recruited via the Facebook Fan pages of the: Los Angeles Galaxy; Houston Dynamo; Major League Soccer; New York Red Bulls; Real Salt Lake; and Seattle Sounders FC.  A small percentage of the 202 respondents were recruited through LinkedIn and Twitter.

Survey participants were active and engaged MLS fans: 69.3% had visited their MLS team’s Web site within 24 hours of taking the survey, 81.2% stated that they will definitely attend a MLS match in 2010, and 56.9% attended 5 or more matches during the 2009 season.  Furthermore, the survey required respondents to take two deliberate actions to participate.  First they had to become a Fan of a MLS team on FB, and then they had to click a link posted on the team’s FB Fan Page.   These fans actions indicate they will be more responsive to a sponsor’s message, and more likely to change their purchase behavior because of a sponsorship.  If a brand can establish a presence within MLS, its brand equity will increase because of the league’s status with the consumer. 

VW, like every other MLS sponsor I studied, is leveraging its MLS sponsorship to increase its brand image with Hispanics.  A noble and wise ambition.  Hispanics/Latinos represented one-quarter (50/202) of survey respondents, and VW has an established presence in Latin America that has not translated into sales with Hispanic-Americans.  However, VW’s recognition numbers decreased with Hispanics to 48% (every sponsor experienced a decrease in recognition with Hispanics).  Not a large decrease – VW was the sponsor with the highest recognition rate amongst Hispanics – but one that can, and should be improved upon. 

Hispanics were 41.3% more likely to “regularly consume/purchase a product if that product/service is an Official Sponsor of MLS” than White/Caucasians respondents (Whites/Caucasians represented 65% of survey participants).  Granted, sponsorships are not as effective in changing consumer behavior for large purchases such as cars – due to the likely involvement of another party – but this is a significant result.  If your goal is to change consumer behavior, you should target those who are willing/eager to embrace your brand.  Furthermore, opportunities exist for brands to establish themselves with the next generation of Hispanic consumers.

76% of respondents identifying themselves as Hispanic/Latino had at least one parent born outside of the United States.  The other 24% of Hispanic/Latino respondents were born outside of the United States.  Their offspring will grow up rooting for a MLS team, opposed to a team in Mexico’s First Division or another foreign league.  The next generation of Hispanic MLS soccer fans should be arriving shortly.  92% of Hispanic/Latino fans are under the age of 37, with 42% between the ages of 19-25 (note: this could be attributable to the survey being conducted on FB, but only 26% of Caucasian respondents were between the ages of 19-25).  

VW might be selling a lot more Jettas in 2030… Heck, you might be seeing more Tigans, Routans and CCs at your kids AYSO games.  

**** I am only using the SBJ numbers as a reference point.  It would be irresponsible to make a correlation between their numbers and mine.  Their methodology and respondents are too different.

Written by Peter Amador

April 21, 2010 at 6:18 PM

%d bloggers like this: