• Ben Levy

Hashtag Sports is Ushering In a New Wave of Conference For 2017


With summer quickly approaching - it's the perfect time to plan your summer vacation in New York City around one of the best sports industry conferences - the Hashtag Sports Conference. The Conference has grown over the past few years and will be bigger and better than ever.

They're also taking on a different model, focusing more on innovation and making this more of a festival instead of your traditional conference. I can't wait to hear from speakers about innovation in their spaces and learn about topics that I typically brush up against in my day-to-day job.

Trust me, you don't want to miss out on this! Did I mention that by using our code "SPONSORTALK", you receive 15% off your conference ticket?

I'm particularly interested in learning and hearing from a mix of speakers on various aspects of the sports business.

Dennis Crowley - Co-founder, Foursquare

Dennis founded Foursquare, the app that basically started the explosion of location based services and figured out how to harness that into a social network. Foursquare has since pivoted to a B2B platform focused on leveraging location intelligence. This has a few applications in the sports world, but I believe the primary one will be how to better tap into the fans who are attending games. Right now, it's tough for properties to know who is in the seats, but tools like Foursquare will start to allow teams to get a better handle on that - creating more monetization opportunities. I'm excited to hear firsthand how they plan to attack the sports market from a venue perspective.

Martellus Bennett - Tight End, Green Bay Packers

Martellus once coined himself "The Black Unicorn" is known as one of the most colorful men in the NFL. I've been following him on Twitter and Instagram for a few years and have watched him release children's books, amongst many other creative initiatives. It has always intrigued me to see how current athletes are simultaneously paving their path to success post-career and I'm excited to hear how Martellus is able to balance his "side hustle" to the NFL. I think we'll start to see more athletes be open about their passions outside of sports earlier in their career.

Roger Mason Jr - Commissioner, The Big 3 League

The Big 3 is looking to do what many have tried and failed at - to create an offshoot of the core pro sports league offering and turn it into a long term sustainable business. The Big 3 has one element that none of the others had to this level - brand recognition. The roster is downright impressive - from Allen Iverson to Chauncey Billups. One of the more compelling elements of The Big 3 League will be seeing how they distribute content - given that the games won't air live, I'm particularly interested to see how/if they will distribute live content. I'm also particularly intrigued to see how they attack sponsorships - will they look to slice and dice categories or go for exclusivity in major categories out of the gate? Will they secure a jersey partner or will their partnerships mostly be focused on digital activation?

Dawn Hudson - Chief Marketing Officer, National Football League

The NFL is an obvious behemoth in the US, but I'm particularly interested to hear how Dawn plans on building the brand outside of the US. The NBA has built a blueprint for global brand growth and the NFL has started to push by hosting games in Mexico and the UK. Will they continue to push more aggressively with media distribution? I'm also particularly intrigued to understand how the NFL is starting to appeal to Generation Z moving forward - especially with all of the closely managed rights issues that other leagues are looser with - I.E. gifs being posted on social media.

Other notable speakers include Jill Gregory (CMO at NASCAR), Keith Dawkins (EVP at Nickelodeon), Luc Robitaille (Team President at Los Angeles Kings) and Noah Garden (EVP, Business at MLB). But that's just to name a few. To learn more about the speaker lineup, check out the conference website.

It's not only the speaker lineup that's great, but the subject topics promise to be just as great.

One Team Collective: Inside the First Athlete-Driven Accelerator

I'm really looking forward to sitting in on the NFLPA powered panel, as I've watched them innovate over the past few years and really allow their athletes to get involved in the tech world. Key questions for me are understanding how NFL Players are planning on harnessing the power of their biometric data, both to impact on-field performance and monetization opportunities. Will we eventually see Casper (and similar mattress companies) partnering with NFL Players and showing changes in their performance due to the use of their products? Speakers include: Russell Okung (San Diego Chargers), Angelo Ruggiero (Managing Director, Sports Innovation Lab) and Ahmad Nassar (President, NFLPA).

Live Streaming Lax: Behind the Launch Of A Sport's Multichannel OTT Platform

The OTT space is heating up in recent months, with Sling, Hulu, YouTube, and others competing for subscription fees for customers. Hearing about it firsthand will allow you to understand how properties are thinking about their rights. I'm particularly interested to understand how properties are thinking about the mix of the content they can provide both live and off the shelf. Also, how will we see properties continue to grow their TV revenue when the distribution is becoming fragmented? Speakers will include Brian Bedol (Founder & CEO, SportsRocket) and Nick Sakiewicz (Commissioner, National Lacrosse League).

Sponsorship Activation (Multiple Panels)

My favorite topic is sponsorship activation - as I spend most of my time figuring out how to activate the FanDuel brand to truly breakthrough the clutter with consumers. No better place to learn from some of the best properties and brands in the world, but I'm particularly interested in learning how these brands select the right property and time to activate and reach fans and how they ultimately measure the impact.

There are four panels overall covering sponsorship activation and they include: Pasión for Sport: How Hispanics Are Driving the Future of Sports Marketing, Cause-Worthy Sports: How Social Good and Athletics Collide, State of Sports for Gen Z Kids: Building Lifelong Affection in a Hyper-Competitive Market, and Brands Get Physical: Experiential Spaces at Sporting Events.


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