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Its all about the "audience"

Sports is a game of moments, witnessed by the few, followed by the many.

Within this statement lies the true challenge of modern sports as an entertainment business. Elite sports teams are media and entertainment businesses seeking to convert their organisations into truly national and international brands. As the “Home Team” seeks to globalize, the challenge for sports executives is to find ways to identify, capture and activate this truly loyal audience of fans, and to do so beyond the traditional game-day experience. As we say at Fortress – “every fan counts”

There is one big challenge. If you’re a brand manager today (of a consumer business) wanting to target the audience of a specific Team, you’ll go to where the audience is and will be. In relationship to Sports that means you will go to platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, ESPN, and a mix of traditional & new media channels to reach this audience. More recently you can add to this list attention grabbers such as Betting, E-commerce and NFT marketplaces. The point is brand managers seeking to access this audience are increasing going to places other than the Team itself (the IP Owner). This had led to new business models for these parties, new metrics (very few people were talking about ARPU a few years ago) and a whole lot of head-scratching amongst senior sports execs – who are trying to figure out how to share in the value created by these third-party platforms.

The essence of the problem is that IP owners (the Teams & Leagues) have limited access to direct zero-party and first-party data on this audience of theirs, and this restricts their ability to engage and activate directly. They have a huge audience, insanely loyal to the brand, but the audience remains largely anonymous to the Team which limits their capacity to monetize this loyalty.

A range of Audience Tech companies are today focused on this issue, and some owners are looking to do things differently. Fortress is one such company – we focus on being the hub of this first-party data and using the data to create new personalised and transactional engagements to enhance the fan experience and monetize this relationship both in-venue and outside.

This gives brand managers today (be they sponsors or general consumer businesses) a new way to reach the sports audience of a specific team – as a significant proportion of that audience now sits on the platform owned and managed by the IP owner. We have clients today where over 60% of their total audience sit within and engage directly with the loyalty and reward program. This gives the owner greater capabilities to monetize this data directly and a direct stake in the ARPU generated from the relationships with the fan.

But this level of engagement and retention doesn't just happen - it takes lots of expertise and learnings from companies (such as Fortress) who have built a track record in sports.

To find out more and to access our guidebook to sports loyalty marketing, email me directly at

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