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Turner Sports VP On How Digital Enhances The Fan Experience

Digital is disrupting all industries and sectors. And much to sports fans’ delight, it is also shaking up their experiences, according to Emma May, VP of marketing at Turner Sports. 

Indeed, fans today are watching games while simultaneously looking up player stats, posting about the games to social media, texting their friends at every play, and more, May told CMO.com. Her point of view is that digital is an opportunity to build loyalty through engaging experiences that enhance what’s happening on the court.

Part of May’s job is managing NBA Digital, which is the NBA’s cross-platform portfolio of digital assets jointly managed by the NBA and Turner Sports. NBA Digital includes NBA TV, the NBA app, NBA.com, and NBA League Pass. Amid all of that, May took the time to talk to CMO.com about market shifts in the media space, new opportunities, emerging technologies, and how NBA Digital is engaging with younger audiences.

CMO.com: What is the biggest challenge in media today?
May: 
We’re consistently fighting habit change in terms of how people are consuming content. For a very long time, Nielsen was the metric that we looked at when we thought about TV. But when you look at how consumption has changed, there are new metrics to look at and to consider, such as social, TVE, and more. We need to get a full picture of what’s going on, and I’d say that that’s still a challenge right now.

CMO.com: OK, so what’s the biggest opportunity?
May: 
Driving loyalty of your product or the experience you are bringing to the market. It is important to look at behavior, or how someone is engaging with your app or with your product or television show, and figure out how to keep them coming back. How can we make you fall in love with us even more? How can we get you to evangelize for us? And when we think about all of that, in the end it comes down to loyalty.

CMO.com: How is digital disrupting the sports fan experience?
May: 
The way people consume sports content has changed massively in recent years. The second screen has had a large impact on how fans consume live sports now. You used to just watch on television, but nowadays fans have got their TVs on, and they also have their computers and phones with them. They are watching the game and checking Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook while they’re watching. They’re looking at their fantasy games all at the same time.

So when you think about how sports fans are utilizing the second screen in addition to consuming live content or live sports games, what that’s doing is actually enhancing their experience as opposed to necessarily taking away from their experience. Digital has been an enhancer in how fans really dive deep into the sports that they love.

CMO.com: Are there any emerging technologies you’re keeping a close eye on?  
May: 
We’re always trying to figure out what is next, whether that’s from a marketing standpoint or whether that’s just from a digital product or a user standpoint. I would say one of the things that I personally think is quite interesting is augmented reality and virtual reality because these are ways in which we can bring fans as close as possible to the game without sitting on the sideline.

CMO.com: What are you doing to reach younger fans?
May: 
Targeting a younger audience is really important to us. We’ve always actively marketed to young fans, and we do that in many different ways. We use data to target our efforts directly to younger audiences.

More specifically, we had a really fun activation with Twitter called “My Moment, My City,” where we worked with local artists in seven of our “Tip Off” markets to create a piece of art that really signifies their NBA team and what’s coming up in the next year for their team.

We took those pieces of art and used them in out-of-home ads and did local poster delivery with them. We shared the art on Twitter via a daisy-chain technology. This allows fans who “heart” our posts to receive tune-in notifications from our @NBAonTNT handle.

CMO.com: What lessons have you learned? What kind of content or experiences are working best with younger audiences?
May: 
I hate to use the word “authentic,” but you kind of have to. Younger audiences really want something that is minimally branded and that fits in their everyday life. It can’t be forced.

CMO.com: What’s one piece of career advice that you would give your younger self?
May: 
Slow down and take a breath. Really spend time to think about the goal at hand a little bit more.

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