Sports Entertainment Summit II: Producing Promos, Show Opens That Draw in Fans

By Mel Lambert

Following the purchase by DirecTV Sports of three regional operations from Fox Sports Net, on April 1 the trio was re-launched as Root Sports, coinciding with the start of the MLB regular season. To reflect the network’s biased home-team voice, “We developed the brand position: ‘We Are a Fan’,” recalled Whit Friese, creative director with Troika Design Group. “We needed to create a new standard for a regional sports network – a design that was unique to each region, and which works with any sport, yet which lets fans feel that the team is their own. We didn’t want to put the network between the fans and their teams.”

Friese was speaking at last week’s SVG Sports Entertainment Summit, which drew more than 300 industry executives to the Sofitel Hotel in Los Angeles to discuss the future from a technical and business perspective, in a well-attended session moderated by SVG editorial director Ken Kerschbaumer.

“We concentrated on the local fan, which is essential for a regional sports network,” added co-creative director Gil Haslam. “The Root Sports logo is clean and does not conflict with the team names; we also added a pennant notch. Colors were chosen to complement the home team, with that name appearing prominently in a larger type size.”

The design campaign, which took 10 months to complete, involved five professional sports, several collegiate conferences and teams, plus local sporting events, and included game packaging, show identity, and promo systems.

In a companion discussion, Bill Battin, VP of on-air promos with Fox Sports, described his strategy for promoting events across Fox networks to audiences that may not be hard-core sports fans.

“Our overall aim is to get the message out and get people to tune in,” he said. “The challenge is to get them to stop, look, and listen to the event. We give them the information and the highlights, and then tell the audience what day the program is on. We use on-air talent to promote our weekly events, but the style is more image-based and stylized, and less on information. We also make the [promo] more like a single event, and not just another game.”

Click here for SVG’s comprehensive coverage of the Sports Entertainment Summit II.