Digital Sports Sells: The proof is in the pudding


New Orleans Saints/Pelicans announce full-time Digital Sponsorship position

This article is sponsored by my resume, download it today. Aaron Westendorf: He’ll get it done in 140 characters or less.

Twitter’s potential for earnings is coming to fruition for sports teams in the micro-blogging site’s seventh year of existence. They aren’t buying Twitter’s new public stock options, nor are they maximizing profitability through online ads or ticket sales.

They’re just tweeting.

When addressing senior brass in a social media meeting it can be daunting for a digital marketer to justify the time spent maintaining and producing content for a team’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Though the sites are easy to use for advertising, especially through targeted marketing, they have not yet shown easy profit. Many fans may assume their team sells enough tickets and merchandise through their social channels, but the ugly truth is that these sites do not sell sports well. So why should a team use Twitter and Facebook if it can’t turn a profit? Is making the team “look good” or an “obligation to the fans” enough to produce team video and photos?

The answer is quickly becoming sponsorships.

This is why.

The highest trafficked social media posts for a sports team is team news, game posts or digital content (photos or video). Fans follow team Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages, because they want to stay current with the team. It is almost as if @team has become a news source for its user experience. But a press release announcing a trade or player signing can’t turn a profit, can it?

It can, if the team has a well-hired digital marketing team. Many teams are moving to posting news as a “presented sponsor.” Player interviews, coach’s corners, play of the game, catch of the game, whatever it might be it can be sponsored.

Digital Sports Voice has made note of this sponsored content, and noted the potential profitability in such instances already. Team sponsored content on Facebook and Twitter both have increased since August, and many teams are looking to maximize their profits. Social media after all is free. The only costs a team may incur are advertising and staffing, typically a staffed graphic designer and marketing coordinator (both typically very cheap).

Now, for the pudding:  The LA Kings-McDonalds digital sponsorship last year was estimated to be around $1 million. McDonalds announced the presenting sponsorship as a collaborative effort with the Kings, and that the two would donate the million to LA charity. This leaves a grey area as to the true sponsorship amount, tax write offs, etc. but that is still a large ROI for a nearly-free medium.

Other teams across sports leagues are taking note of Facebook and Twitter growth. Teams are now hiring full-time positions to manage the sales and day-to-day management of accounts. The New Orleans Saints/Pelicans posted a full-time position devoted to solely selling digital sponsorships. Here is the write-up:

“The New Orleans Saints and Pelicans offer a unique opportunity for a proven sales executive and sports enthusiast.  We are looking for a individual that will focus on building close partnerships with clients and their agencies and develop a digital presence for them not only on our websites, but the Mercedes Benz Superdome and New Orleans Arena  We are currently looking for a Digital Sales Account Executive to accelerate our growth and seek out new opportunities to take our digital platforms to the next level.” via

More teams will be following this easy-money trend. It is easy to attach sponsor names onto content the team already produces. Teams will always announce final scores, starting lineups or interview videos, but now they’re slowly learning how to make a profit from it.

They are essentially learning how to advertise their news just like the old grey print newspapers would.

For all of you job-seekers looking to find your start in sports, try to latch yourself onto the digital trend and ride the wave all the way to the top.