27 Aug

If You Can Make It (Back) There You Can make It Anywhere. New Poll Shows Fans Might Return Sooner Than Expected.

By: Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins

Yves it’s New York, and those who flock to Madison Square Garden or even Broadway may be a little more stir crazy or in need of a fix when the weather turns a bit chillier than today, but when will fans come back and dollars start flowing back to those who run the buildings?

Some reports have said a year or 18 months, but a survey out Thursday which speaks to a critical group…people who have recently purchased tickets, says that the return to indoor events is actually A LOT sooner than many would have anticipated, even in the Big Apple.

Riptide Partners unveiled their recent survey of actual New York area event attendees, which revealed a much faster return to event timeline for consumers than has been widely discussed. It is the first, and most comprehensive, study of actual event attendees in the New York area since the Pandemic shutdown began.

“There are literally hundreds of theaters, arenas and venues of all sizes that have been affected by the shutdown, and it was our desire to get a better handle on the thoughts of those venue patrons who had attended events prior to the shutdown. We think this survey tells a slightly different story than what was originally thought,” Rob Comstock, co-founder of New York based Riptide Partners, which works with venues on improving User Experience. “The variable of when people can return to venues in larger groups will be decided by health and government officials, but when that date is set, we believe that people will feel safer, and come back sooner, than anticipated based on the survey responses we have received.”

The survey includes over 4,000 completed surveys from consumers who regularly attended sporting and entertainment events in the New York tri-state area. Of those 4,000, an overwhelming 89% said they will return to events depending on the actions taken by venue operators to ensure safety; 75% most frequently attended concerts / live events and 25% most frequently attended sporting events.

Most interestingly, the average time to return across all levels of concern is 3.5 months, with extremely concerned respondents saying they will wait an average 5.2 months, while those who are not at all concerned will return immediately. That is a drastic reduction in time from what has been out there with surveys about the general public.

While no one can say for sure when that “go clock” starts, Comstock pointed out that the survey should buoy the hopes and business aspirations of venue owners, and that this model is replicable in other key cities as well.

“Sentiment will likely vary materially by market depending on infection rate, level of success in containing or reducing virus spread, and overall attitudes,” Comstock added.  “We intend to use the same approach and metrics in other markets to understand those differences.  For the output of the research to be helpful to the industry – venue operators, teams, etc. – in developing their operational playbook for reopening, they have to know the sentiment and preferred safety protocols of their local fanbase.”

What will it take, outside of a vaccine?

The two biggest factors the group were weighing were touch points of areas like seating and bathrooms, while most indicated the food and beverage safety would be handled at an acceptable level. Anxiety over being in a crowd is the most frequently cited concern at 44% of respondents. Screening attendees and thorough disinfection of venue were the two most common changes requested.

“Number one is sanitization of the venue, ideally using a set of recognized standards and independent certification of practices,” Comstock added.  “The Miami Dolphins recently announced STAR certification by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) for their sanitization practices at Hard Rock Stadium, which should give fans confidence in returning. Touchless options around the facility are another priority highlighted in our survey responses.  Attendees cite restrooms, concessions and other activities typically requiring physical contact as areas of concern.  Cleaning will address some of those concerns but contactless options for ticketing, security, food and beverage ordering and restrooms will certainly go a long way. Lastly, allowing for social distancing will be critical.  The number one concern highlighted in our survey responses is “anxiety over being in a crowd”.  So far, we’ve seen local governments limit attendance to 10 to 20% of capacity where they’ve allowed fans to return which has enabled better staging for security and ample space for social distancing while seated.  NASCAR has successfully run several races with fans at reduced capacity, where permitted.”

So, we don’t know when we will be back in seats, and the bubbles have provided a bridge without fans for sports both indoor and outdoor. But what we do know, especially in a major market, is that the anticipation of return to butts in seats can now start to be see down the road, and that is good news for all in the business.  Making that move smartly, will help to get the business we cover more in focus and back on track, and talking months, not years, is a welcome ray of sunshine on what has been a gloomy business environment.

25 Aug

Legends Unite…And That Can Make For A Powerful Opportunity

by: Tanner Simkins @TannerSimkins

The fastest growing demo in this country is 50 and over, yet it is sometimes the one that is forgotten in sports in favor of younger fans. Still, those athletes and coaches who may have left the court have amazing life lessons to share and stories to tell, even if they are gone from playing for a few years.

That’s why it makes a lot of sense that the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) announced a unified multimedia front this week, launching Legends Media & Entertainment (LME), a platform that will produce, distribute and quantify the wide reaching stories of many of the NBA and WNBA’s biggest stars. You can go everywhere from Bill Russell to Byron Russell from Sheryl Swoopes to Shawn Marion to Dominique Wilkens and not miss a beat any generation.

In addition to be led by the most senior of stars, NBRPA President and CEO Scott Rochelle has gotten the buy-in and support of elite names that resonate more recently, like Grant Hill, to help craft the messages and the lessons from every area and most importantly , on every medium. That can be gold to a marketer looking to reach a hoops savvy audience who is not tied to a print publication or a website or even a podcast. It is literally legendary content wherever, and however, the consumer wants it.  

“With the creation of LME, we are building a multimedia platform for some of the most compelling men and women connected to basketball’s history and culture under one umbrella, something which has been asked for, and needed for some time,” said Rochelle on Tuesday. “LME will be a vibrant stop for fans, businesses and others who want to enjoy, learn and explore the amazing stories of our Legends both on and off the court. These stories are some of the best in the global business of sport, and now we can house them under one impactful roof.”

Some of the key unified elements of LME will include:

Legends Magazine which debuted in 2018 and is the official publication for NBA and WNBA Legends. Produced quarterly, Legends Magazine has featured cover stories about NBRPA Director Caron Butler, Jerry Stackhouse, Elton Brand, Jamal Mashburn and “The Knuckleheads” – Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles. Each issue is delivered to all former players, active players, coaches, stakeholders, influencers and league officials worldwide.

Legends Studios also debuted in 2018 with the launch of original live-action and animated short videos and two podcasts, the All-Access Legends Podcast and On Deck with Scott Rochelle. In April 2020, Legends Live, a weekly web series broadcasted to multiple social media platforms featuring live conversations with NBA and WNBA Legends, was added to the Legends Studios portfolio. In addition to 32 standard episodes, Legends Live also covered the 2020 WNBA Draft and ESPN’s The Last Dance with live commentary from Legends. Last week, media personality Tyler Johnson, aka Trill Withers joined the LME team as host of Legends Live, where he will spend time with many of the game’s most successful and dynamic personalities and business people. Johnson will also be a key contributor to Legends Magazine, the All-Access Legends Podcast and the NBRPA’s social media strategy and content.

There will also be a robust social push as well, making this legendary offer unique amongst players who have left the court or the field, but not the minds and hearts of a global basketball audience. LME is a great example of convergence of assets, one which is worth watching as it grows and shares stories in the years to come.