SVG, Variety Roll Out Red Carpet for Sports Entertainment Summit in Hollywood

More than 350 industry leaders from the sports and entertainment sectors congregated at the Lowes Hollywood Hotel yesterday for the second-annual Sports Entertainment Summit, co-produced by the Sports Video Group and Variety. The Summit, which featured a full day of panels and sessions addressing the rapidly converging markets of sports and entertainment, was highlighted by keynote conversations with AEG CEO and President Tim Leiweke, UFC President Dana White, and pro-skateboarding legend and sports entertainment entrepreneur Tony Hawk.

In addition, a trio of SVG-produced afternoon breakout sessions addressed the latest technological developments and challenges facing the sports production market today.

Leiweke Sees NFL Football in L.A.’s Future
After accepting the inaugural Sports & Entertainment Leadership Award, Leiweke discussed the prodigious transformation of downtown Los Angeles over the past decade as a result of the AEG-spearheaded L.A. Live complex, as well as AEG’s hopes to further expand L.A. Live in the coming years with a football stadium and makeover of the adjacent convention center. This further rollout will depend largely on one long-festering issue: the arrival of an NFL franchise.

“I now think L.A. is going to get a team and I don’t have a problem looking everyone in the eye now and saying, ‘We’re going to get a team,’” he said. “I think it will be Farmers Field [AEG’s planned downtown stadium] or maybe it will be City of Industry [real-estate mogul Ed Roski’s alternate stadium proposal], but it is going to be one of them and it’s going to happen. I think by 2017 we will be able to [reconnect with] the generation that has lost the great experience of an NFL game and be able to take our kids to see an L.A. NFL team.

White Returns for Round 2
UFC President Dana White took the stage at SES for the second consecutive year, offering a first-hand look at the evolution of the MMA powerhouse and its place on the sports television landscape. In addition to its impressive international growth in recent years, UFC continues to boost its presence in the States.

After signing a lucrative rights deal with Fox Sports Media Group last year that puts dozens of major fights a year on both broadcast and cable, UFC recorded its most successful event ever with UFC 148 last weekend, earning a record gate of nearly $7 million and nearly beating UFC 100 as the highest grossing UFC pay-per-view event in history. The key, according to White, is to learn from the mistakes of boxing and utilize PPV in tandem with cable and broadcast.

“We use the [broadcast and cable] television platform to introduce fighters to the masses and get people interested in the sport so that pushes them to PPV,” said White. “In boxing, you used to see the big fights on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and USA’s Tuesday Night Fights. Then everything went to PPV and these guys got greedy. Everything went off television. That hurt boxing and shrunk the fan base. It wasn’t looking towards the future and kids today don’t even care about boxing. But we use television and pay per view in tandem.”

Hawk Sees Room for Growth Internationally
Tony Hawk closed out the day’s festivities with a first-hand account of his evolution from skateboarding phenom to full-fledged sports entertainment entrepreneur. Today, Hawk’s empire includes a series of massively successful video games, a clothing line, and a dedicated YouTube channel, as well as several major film roles and a color-commentator gig at ESPN’s X Games. Hawk may have cemented himself as a heavyweight here in the states, but he still sees room for growth, especially on an international level.

“International [markets] are the growth area for our industry and skateboarding as a whole,” he said. “X just announced that they are going to do four X Games per year – in Los Angeles, Munich, Barcelona, and Brazil… I think with that kind of seed planted, the expansion is going to come very quickly. The people there will see it live and be inspired to do it. The big push and the slowest [market to develop] over the past 10 years is China, which has yet to blow up but is about to.”

A Chock-Full Day in Hollywood
Other Summit highlights included a one-on-one with ESPY Awards Executive Producer Maura Mandt that went behind-the-scenes of the preceding night’s show; an overview of the marketing and sponsorship efforts behind the 2012 London Games and future Olympics with Rob Prazmark, founder and CEO of 21 Sports & Entertainment Market Group; and a behind-the-scenes look at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s UFC.TV streaming platform with Chris Wagner, EVP of Marketing Strategy for NeuLion, which helped to build the platform.

The Sports Entertainment Summit was sponsored by Grass Valley, Bexel, Ipsos, NewTek (which helped to stream the event live), SOS Global Express, Mobovivo, SAP, Signiant, Ooyala, NeuLion, SNL Kagan, SAG-AFTRA One Union, and KattenMuchinRosenman LLP.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the Sports Entertainment Summit next week!

For more information on the Summit CLICK HERE.