AP CEO sees big opportunity in 'The Big Game'

May 30, 2012
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Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning the gold in the men's 200-meter fnal during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium  at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning the gold in the men's 200-meter fnal during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP President and CEO Tom Curley today outlined seven proposals to help traditional news media and sports authorities meet the challenges and maximize the opportunities presented by a multibillion-dollar global sports boom and digital revolution.

“The facts and figures are just stunning,” Curley told an International Olympic Committee conference in Tokyo. “Whether the boom endures depends on whether we the organizers, programmers and reporters are creative enough to adapt to the fast-changing consumer tastes.”

“First, commit from the top,” Curley said. “Let’s stop holding back the waves of change crashing on our once-protected economic islands and embrace the newly opened gateways. While the flow of information is more difficult to control in the wide open spaces of the Web and mobile, this new environment has only stoked the demand for paid and ad-supported content. If we focus more on innovation than control, we will all prosper and grow with the demand.”

“Second, embrace sport and its role in global society… In too many shops, the sports team is isolated. Sports today is the boom business, and it deserves to be treated as such. Give them the resources and new product development support they need to grow. Don’t leave all the fun of innovation to startups.”

“Third, take the field. Take the whole field, not just the big-match, big-event thrills… We have gaps in our coverage. We do a great job covering the games. We can even write a full page on the impact of a torn ligament. But the games behind the games, especially coverage around the money interests, are rarely understood let alone covered. If the money soars, there will be opportunities for journalists who believe the watchdog role should include sport and sport organizations as well as government.”

“Fourth, engage the fans, readers, viewers. Marrying the new technology with the soaring interest in sport opens up new ways of presenting and telling stories and capturing loyal supporters. It starts with understanding that sports events are only one touch point for fans. Optical tracking technologies or overhead cameras offer new ways to explain matchups or performance. We should be designing new experiences such as these for before, during and after an event. The 24/7/365 digital fans of the world will always be looking for engagement. They are no longer just making passive appointments with the games they love. They are integrating sports into their digital lives, and because they are always connected, there is more ‘down time’ than ever to interact with our content.”

“Fifth, let’s unlock the value of all of our assets as we build for the future. There was a time not too long ago when data were the small type in the newspaper. Archived content, likewise, was reserved for special publications and documentaries. Today, you might find all of the above in a single video game that a fan plays every day. Websites and mobile apps commonly include deep access to data and archives that even coaches would have struggled to assemble a few years ago.”

“Sixth, sports content has enormous value. Some of the best professional talent lies in the press box or editing booth, as well as on the field. The writers, editors, photographers, producers deserve to be paid well for their skills. We are absolute fools if we get caught up in the good-enough claptrap. Innovating with technology, developing new products, providing instant results from anywhere and supplying deep historical context can form a timeless but costly stream of content. Understand the value being created through the packaging and product opportunities.”

“Finally, the cost of sport and everything around it is soaring. Imbalances between have-nots and haves could as well. Everyone deserves access to the fields, equipment, coaches and program that turn dreams into heart-thumping victories.”

Curley gave the keynote address at the conference, “The Future of Sports and News Reporting at the Olympic Games and Major Events,” which is taking place this week at the Tokyo offices of Kyodo News.

He highlighted the seismic shifts in sports media consumption and media rights licensing since the Summer Olympics in Beijing four years ago, punctuating his remarks with a video titled “The Big Game,” which documents the explosive rise in fees, social media and mobile devices heading into the London Olympics this summer.

“There are already a billion smartphone users around the world, and 100 million of them are in the United States,” Curley said. “In the news business, we know one thing for sure now – you cannot treat that 100 million as if they were appointment-driven consumers of news.  

“They don’t wait for the newspaper to arrive, or the television show to come on, or even for their computer to boot up. They are connected, 24/7, 365, by their personal mobile devices – an experience that has already been extended by the arrival of tablets and, soon, by connectivity in their cars.”

Read the complete text of Curley’s remarks

See “The Big Game” video.

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For further information:

Paul Colford
Director of AP Media Relations
pcolford@AP.org
212.621.1895



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