The battle is on. As I walked through Zurich International Airport (rated number one in Europe), the signage for the European Football Championships is up. Mastercard is using its " Priceless" campaign with strong signage. Soon, Olympic signage will be around the world as well, with Visa, the arch competitor of Mastercard, sponsoring there.
Who will win the Television wars?
In a day where the success and failure of sports is based on its fan base, viewership and response to sponsors, the king is still the Olympics. Combination of history, a universal draw to sports and a worldwide TV audience, the Olympics continues to draw.
Worldwide, Football or soccer as we call it in North America, is not far behind. And the kings of sport know that. And so do the sponsors!
Back in the old days, before Tom Shepard was Global VP at Visa, he championed the Visa Decathlon program. I remember having conversations with him about how important the Olympic rings were to VISA. Tom was at Millsport at the time, but he worked quite closely with John Bennett, the former head of Visa marketing and the man who brought VISA and the Decathlon together. Their support for the decathlon team in the US brought the event back into prominence. By tying in the former greats, Bruce Jenner, the late Bob Mathias, Bill Toomey, Milt Campbell, and Rafer Johnson, with the up and comers, VISA truly contributed to the resurfacing of the event in the U.S.
What Mr. Shepard noted at the time, was that when the Olympic rings were tied in with VISA, sales increased! Don't think our friends at McDonalds don't know that as well. Global sports marketing is huge and is responsive!
TV is still king, but the web and opportunities for electronic coverage are really just opening up. The revenues are miniscule ( I mean, real revenues, you have to discern the detrius from the real cash), but growing.
If the idea of the Olympics and European Football is to have every fan have his or her own personal relationship with the sport, between TV, Cable, pay per view, print, web, web TV, and Ipod broadcast, that will soon happen.
The challenge will be digging through the detrius. Just because someone can put up a website, or put up a blog does not make them a journalist. The time,the research, the energy and concern for the reader is what makes a professional. This does not mean that fan content is not important-huge, but the fan, at the end of the day, wants a platform where they can interact and challenge even the longer prognosticator on the sport--they want the facts, the opinions and they want to keep it fun.
For the Olympics and European football to continue to grow, they must embrace more that TV, and the new media is changing how we view and digest the world of sport.
For a complete story on the Big TV race of 2008, click http://www.sportbusiness.com/news/166312/record-olympic-and-euro-champs-tv-audiences-expected-in-2008