Google‘s head of sport for North America didn’t use his keynote at last week’s PromaxBDA Sports Media Marketing Summit in NYC to position the Internet giant as a creator of original content or purchaser of sports rights. Instead, Frank Golding appealed to sports leagues to put content on Google-owned YouTube to drive engagement back to their brands. "The strategy is to convince leagues that if the league puts its content on YouTube it’s a safe place. With that content on YouTube, they can drive fan engagement and drive viewers and fans back to either their properties or to their games or their mobile apps, or, in other words, to use YouTube to help drive their business," he told CableFAX after his presentation.
But partnering with sports leagues has been "very difficult," particularly when it comes to the freshest programming, Golding said. "The trick is to convince leagues you should work with your fans," who are not only playing "catch up" watching sports content, but also creating their own content surrounding the property. Sports viewing has grown by 500% on YouTube since 2010, he told the crowd.
Back to those rumblings that Google is interested in buying NFL Sunday Ticket… Golding told us he couldn’t comment, but reiterated that YouTube is a platform. "The hard sell about buying sports rights is there’s no YouTube on YouTube, so even if we bought something, we still need the league to produce it," he said. "Then you’re back in the kind of situation where it’s, well, it’s really the league doing its thing." Don’t read Golding wrong. He’s not suggesting leagues pouring tons of money into network TV would see the same results on YouTube. It’s a different piece of the value equation, with YouTube excelling at working with a 30-day window, he said. "When you pay billions of dollars for sports rights," it’s going to be well-produced, fresh content. And the day after, it’s still going to be fresh. "It’s got to go somewhere… and we have a very big home," he said.
And it’s getting bigger. The content requires infrastructure to hold it, and YouTube is "building right now for the million channel generation… Social companies are spending hundreds of millions on infrastructure." As for whether Google has plans to enter the original content game, Gordon noted "mixed results" from advancing money to creators of original content—presumably referring to YouTube’s $100mln financing of 100 original channels in ’12. Today, it’s focusing the platform and "working hard to accelerate the monetization" aspect, so people can earn more money for their content.
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