On 8th March 2022, IESE Business School co-organized the MBA Sports Summit with ESADE Business School at ESADE Fòrum in Barcelona, Spain. Both MBA Sports & Media Clubs from the respective schools worked together to bring top-notch speakers from the sports scene to discuss the latest sports trends, sustainability in the sports industry, partnerships, fan engagement and innovation.
Having hosted previous sessions covering similarly trending topics, such as cryptocurrency and e-commerce, from IESE we were excited to be a part of a conversation that focused on the future of the industry. Even better, the in-person event allowed us to expand our networks and interact with the panelists and fellow Barcelona MBA students. Over 100 attendees joined the event, demonstrating the continued ability for sports to attract an audience.
The event was moderated by Carlos Canto (CEO, SPSG Consulting) and had two panel sessions. The first panel discussed sports business trends and sustainability, with powerhouse speakers:
- Alex Bardera Echeverria – Strategy and Finance Director (Kosmos)
- Marc Gasol – President (Bàsquet Girona) and National Basketball Association (NBA) former athlete and champion
- Jose M Duran Farre – CEO (RCD Espanyol de Barcelona)
The main takeaways we took from that panel is that clubs and organizations are trying to engage new generations and make the fans participate in different actions across a game. Plus, this involvement would have several call-to-actions and interactions that are constantly done during a game. In 2022, we cannot understand a game without interacting with your smart phone while watching it.
At the same time, each speaker emphasized the importance of sustainability in the industry and that they are incorporating it into their business plans. Clubs are taking this to another level promoting and having different campaigns that involve their players and show example of responsibility to the rest. Marc Gasol discussed his own case of Bàsquet Girona, where players are asked to be sustainability ambassadors and where the team gave up a sponsorship for plastic water bottles given their impact on the environment. The group also discussed the influence of La Liga in pushing for sustainability across all its football clubs.
Following the first panel, we took a deep dive into fan engagement and innovation spanning different sports, from surfing to basketball and the new sport of roundnet. To coincide with International Women’s Day, we were pleased to welcome two young female speakers. The full panel was formed by:
- Mario Bayarri – Media Rights Director (Grupo Mediapro)
- Beatriz Burgos – Marketing and Sponsorship Assistant (FESurfing Federación Española de Surfing)
- Hanna Gebel – European Marketing Manager (Spikeball Inc.)
- Milos Nenadovic – Senior Manager Business Operations (Euroleague Basketball)
In 2022, the sports industry will continue to see an influx of money from new sources, shifting power dynamics increasingly in the hands of investors and consumers, and with more widespread use of emerging technologies and a greater focus on broader societal issues. In this challenging environment, Hanna Gebel discussed how to launch a new sport while more established sports, like basketball and the Euroleague, must innovate to reach new consumers. In an interesting in between, Beatriz Burgos outlined how the very traditional sport of surfing can position itself to attract participants in a federation that is much more organized and establishment.
Moreover, the panel dove into how to get fans—and particularly young Gen Z fans—interested in different sports and at a time when attention spans differ, and screens dominate viewership. Media rights companies want to go in hand with sports organizations and put the fan in the center of their actions. From NFTs to e-sports, and whether on YouTube, Instagram or OTT, all leagues and teams aim to meet the consumer where they are most likely to discover and engage with their sports.
Finally, from the Sports & Media Club at IESE Business School, we would like to thank our counterparts at ESADE Business School, and especially Adrià Gasol Sáez (President) and Fernando Mª Llorens González (Vice President). It has been a pleasure to collaborate, and we do really hope this is the first of many more shared events between IESE and ESADE. We wish you all the best in the rest of the academic year!
If you would like to know more about the MBA program at IESE Business School or the Sports & Media Club at our school, please do not hesitate to contact us on LinkedIn.
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