FoxSports.com, MSN Make Winning Games Move
Partnership on Olympics site creates many sponsor opportunities
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 7/26/2012 2:30:42 PM
Many sports and news organizations will be sending teams to London to cover the action and to offer marketers other online environments through which they can reach consumers.
One of the most ambitious offerings-and one that is giving its site's advertisers multiple video and print content offerings to sponsor-is FoxSports.com, which, in partnership with Microsoft, has created a special Olympics site.
The site offers breaking news about the Games, current and past Olympic athlete profiles, photo galleries, videos and a variety of live and taped shows, which will also include a nightly update and discussion of results. Several advertisers are sponsoring the site.
Marla Newman, senior VP, ad sales, for FoxSports.com, took some time to discuss the details of the Olympic site.
Where and when did the idea of this website originate?
The idea originated in May 2011 through discussions with Microsoft, which FoxSports.com already has a partnership with. We were having a discussion about how we could cover big sports events going forward. They offered to extend our integrated sports content partnership where we would create a special website that would be solely devoted to coverage of the Olympics and we would create customized packages specifically for the site's sponsors' needs. We jumped right on board. In addition to the content on our own site, FoxSports.com is the exclusive provider of Olympics content to MSN.com, which has more than 520 million site visitors per month worldwide. We realized there's a market out there for advertisers who want to engage an Olympics audience, but, for a variety of reasons, aren't Olympics sponsors. We can provide a platform through FoxSports.com with our coverage and the sponsors can target their audience without the burden that often comes with being an official Olympics sponsor.
When did the site launch and what is the extent of the editorial coverage of the Olympic Games on the site?
The site launched in April, about 100 days before the opening ceremonies. It features multimedia content, including editorial, videos, photo galleries, social media integration, plus a lot more. We will also do live updates. It is clearly FoxSports.com's most ambitious coverage of an Olympics to date.
Who are the sponsors on the site?
The sponsors include Citibank, T-Mobile, Scottrade, Olive Garden and DeVry University.
Who is doing the reporting?
We have an extensive editorial and production staff there and we also have a team of four U.S. Olympic gold medalists, Christian Laettner, Dominique Dawes, Maurice Greene and Amy Van Dyken, who will be doing assorted types of reporting from London in their respective areas-Laettner in basketball, Dawes in gymnastics, Greene in track and Van Dyken in swimming. We have a video show called Inside Edge where each one of them will give insight into the sports they won their gold medals in. Laettner, who was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball dream team, just did an Inside Edge segment where he responded to recent comments by Kobe Bryant that the 2012 team could beat the 1992 team. Greene has done "Train Like a Champion" videos talking about what it takes to be an Olympic athlete.
Jill Arrington, who does the Fox Sports Flash video reports on FoxSports.com, will be doing Olympic Sports Flash [segments] on the Olympic site throughout the day from Los Angeles, while Laura Okin will be hosting "In Focus" segments from London where she interviews Olympic athletes who discuss what inspired them to pursue their respective sports.
Where in London will the video reporting originate from?
We have a prime location for our set. It is on top of the Westfield Mall, which is at the entrance of the Olympic Park and the Athlete's Village and looks down on it. It's a great spot to reach the athletes and other dignitaries. We are sharing a rooftop location with BSkyB.
How do the sponsorships work?
The site will have a ton of editorial content and stories along with stat pages with charts of the medal counts and event results. Scottrade, for example, will sponsor the medal count page. There will be a large number of photo galleries and they will be sponsored by Citibank and DeVry. We will have a game track feature which will basically be showing live events in animation as they are taking place since we don't have the rights to show any live telecasts or highlights. That feature will be sponsored by Scottrade. We'll have pages featuring the athletes, and those will be sponsored by Citibank. We will have a feature called "London Beat" which is a video series about events happening surrounding the competition such as parties and red carpet events. T-Mobile will be promoting the Samsung Galaxy 3 smartphone and we will have some of our talent using the phones at events taking photos and video. We'll also have a section where we will be aggregating tweets and that will be sponsored by T-Mobile. There will be some onscreen branding for the studio shows. We will also have Olympic roundtables at the end of each day that will recap the results and will be sponsored by Scottrade and Olive Garden. Those are just some examples. We have tried to create custom programs and integrations for all the sponsors.
Are all the advertisers on the FoxSports.com site non-official Olympic sponsors?
Not all of them. Citibank is an official Olympic sponsor but is also a sponsor on our site.
What is the attraction for official Olympic sponsors to spend money on sites other than with NBC?
In general because of certain International Olympic Committee restrictions, there some things advertisers can't do as official sponsors that they can do on sites like ours.
Advertising on sites like the FoxSports.com Olympic site, which is not an "official" Olympic site, falls under the label of Ambush Marketing, which has become a popular industry term. That description connotes negativity. How do you view it?
Our site is a high-quality site and offers information in different ways than the NBC sites do. We do not have the rights to show live competition and highlights but we are offering other features. We have former Olympic medal winners offering insight. Our site is a good alternative for advertisers who might be shut out of the Olympics on NBC because of category exclusivity or who simply don't have enough of a budget to buy official Olympics packages. We are giving them an opportunity to advertise around Olympics content and to reach over 40 million unique visitors through our site. It gives them a chance to sponsor customized content and a large fan base without spending the huge amounts of money it takes to become an official Olympic sponsor.
Is FoxSports.com planning to do any other sporting event-specific websites going forward?
We clearly want to walk before we run. But so far we've seen how well this site has already done and it has opened our eyes to how we can provide a service for both sports fans and advertisers going forward.
How long will the site remain up after the Olympic competition ends?
We launched it 100 days prior to the start of the Games and we are planning to keep it up for at least one month and maybe two months after the Games end. There won't be any more content added, but it will be there for visitors to go to as a reference.
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