“Sport is a catalyst for change”

Marketing: How do you assess the crisis?

Magali Tesena du Montsel: After eighteen very difficult months, we felt a recovery full of desire from all the players in the sport in the summer of 2021 on the occasion of the Olympic Games, the Euros, Roland Garros or even the Tour of France. The crisis did not lead to the emergence of any new underlying trends, but accelerated transitions that had already begun. It was an opportunity for rights holders to upgrade digitally as well as test new distribution methods after episodes like the Mediapro crisis at the end of 2020. Professional football remains an important part of the sport’s economy, and this collapse has demonstrated the relative fragility in which many players operate. The sector suffered millions of euros in losses and, despite government assistance, many small structures were threatened and forced to go into debt. And we have seen with the return of appliances this winter that the situation remains uncertain. The sports business sector continues to grow, but remains exposed to the risks of the risk economy. : of course, the danger of sports results, the uncertainty that makes all the interest in live sports, but also more and more climatic or even political danger …

What are your expectations from the presidential elections?

We have proposed a number of measures to develop the sports economy, such as the introduction of tax incentives to allow individuals to finance sports, and rights holders to better organize to use new sources of income as image rights. Of course, we always promote responsible sports and want to make sports accessible to as many people as possible., whether in terms of broadcast competitions, but also in terms of sports practice. There are still many hurdles to overcome in order to democratize sports in the workplace. Finally, we are still in favor of lowering VAT on sports. From 20%, we consider it necessary to bring it down to 5%, both for essentials and for movies or shows.

What trend do you remember the most in 2021?

Perhaps the most shocking the wave of digital innovation we are seeing with the development of cryptocurrencies and NFTs. We see new sources of income for rights holders, as well as new ways to engage fans and communities and collect data for partners. But it is also a source of concern, as this new sector is complex and risky, even if it has many solid companies. More generally, as sports are increasingly consumed online, we should also mention the impact of digital technology on the environment. what worries. I’m not only talking about the blockchain, but also about the distribution of video content, for example. This is also the second main fundamental theme of 2021, in my opinion, withabandoning the distribution model or diversifying content consumed, and during the crisis, it was necessary to think about new content with the participation of athletes in the absence of competition. Again, this opens up new possibilities.

The topic of sports broadcasting and the interest of the general public was at the forefront of Mediapro last year…

Between linear TV, social media, legal or pirated streaming, or even advertiser platforms like BNP Paribas, which streams matches on We Are Tennis… The sports broadcast media landscape has been transformed, which also requires content diversification and the ability to send the right content through the right channels to the right people. Distribution models are becoming more complex: live remains the flagship product, but it can be delivered by the piece… This is a huge transformation for sports facilities that are not equipped for this, not counting those who already have big funds. This will reinforce the phenomenon we have already observed: holders of premium rights such as the major teams, the Euros, the World Cup or the Olympics have the opportunity to advance in a higher market and seduce their partners.while others will find it harder to prioritize their investments.

Is that what explains the European Football Super League project that was aborted last year?

The argument of the clubs behind this initiative was the desire to create a more attractive product by combining the “best”. It turns out that some of these clubs this season are far from such a level. On the other hand, these clubs were heavily indebted. Some were on the verge of bankruptcy during the crisis and saw financial interest in this project, the purpose of which was to reassess their rights.

Does diversifying distribution methods also risk losing sponsors? Especially since walled gardens like Amazon have become distributors?

This is the same problem as in advertising or marketing in general., sectors in which GAFAs have significant weight. Advertisers follow these trends and need to find an audience where they are. The transformation of sports consumption is forcing advertisers to shift the lines. I already mentioned this, but the We Are Tennis example from BNP Paribas. This sharing space, created by the brand ten years ago for tennis fans, now allows you to stream multiple matches with an unusual tone and thus have direct access to the data.

Finally, a final issue that advertisers are increasingly facing: their CSR commitments. 2022 starts with the Winter Olympics and ends with the World Cup in Qatar… Two scandalous events. What position should be taken?

This is not an easy topic. 70% of Generation Z youth are ready to boycott events that are not environmentally friendly.. In 2012, we introduced a responsible sponsorship charter… Those who do not comply with it are at risk. You have to remember that sport is a way to promote many social issues such as equal opportunity, inclusion, health… It is a living material that allows brands to really address these issues.

However, this leads us to Cristiano Ronaldo pushing away a Coke bottle at a press conference… Can we imagine a footballer boycotting the World Cup?

we have already seen Antoine Griezmann terminates contract with Huawei over Uighurs. However, I consider those who consume Chinese products all day and call on athletes to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics as hypocritical. This is the life of athletes, let’s respect it. On the other hand, they are free to express themselves and use their media to convey the right messages.

These athletes are hostages to the decisions of FIFA or the IOC. Isn’t the role of advertisers more to get these organizations moving?

Indeed, there are precedents. Partners play a role in the governance of these institutions. Moreover, the latter can influence the policy of the organizing countries. The WTA is undoubtedly up to something in Peng Shuai’s return to the public space. Again, sport is a catalyst for change, a soft power that allows you to move forward. What is paradoxical is the lack of resources allocated to this in France.. Politicians are happy to be on the lookout for a win, but they need to understand that you need to invest if you expect results.