The New Toy Department: Sports as a revenue and audience leader

Monetizing new media platforms and effectively marketing brands were the main topics of discussion during The New Toy Department: Sports as a Revenue and Audience Leader, a panel hosted on the second day of the INK+BEYOND conference and trade show in Toronto.

The panel featured Jeffrey Orridge, CBC Sports; David Langford, Sun Media and Mark Milliere, TSN. The debate was moderated by Malcolm Kelly from

Orridge who now works with CBC Sports and was previously the director of global marketing for Reebok, remarked that the seemingly insatiable appetite for sports can be capitalized on, but it requires a differentiation of marketing approaches.

“The goal is to connect with consumers,” he said. “You have to speak to the audience in their language.” Manufacturers want to be branded along with sports franchises, leagues, broadcasters, and events, but want to make sure that those entities are also in line with what they stand for.

Upholding what they stand for as a company bolsters the opportunity to capitalize on the unmistakable emotional connection people have to their sports. Doing that effectively is the basis of the business.

According to Milliere, having a legitimate brand name is one of the biggest assets. “Our credibility is everything,” he said.

Langford took the opportunity to explain the Sun’s decision to double the size of their sports section overnight. “Right away they went to 24 pages from 16 or 18… now it’s anywhere from 28 to 32, it’s 40 today,” recounted Langford. “It’s been really successful, to the point where readership has gone up 20% in the passed two years.”

With larger sections and readership, there are greater opportunities to capitalize on advertising, even for small local sports teams. “You have to work your local community and use everything you can,” said Langford.

The panel also outlined the importance of web content. “We are web first now. Paper is second. It’s at the end of the day,” said Langford.

As for online content, Milliere praised TSN’s head start into the online side of the business. “As big of a lead as TSN has on the broadcast side on its nearest competitors in an all sports format on television, which is significant, that lead on .ca is a hundred times bigger and I often look at it and I (think) it is insurmountable,” said Milliere.