World Football Summit speaks exclusively with Rayde Luis Báez, founder of The Connect and co-founder of SPORTHINK, about content generation and the competition football clubs are facing in regard to the entertainment sector. This interview featured in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practices from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.
Rayde Luis Báez is a Dominican economist based in Spain who has accumulated almost two decades of experience in the sports and entertainment industry. After working for major sports organisations such as the Euroleague, he currently heads an international sponsorship and sports marketing consulting firm, The Connect, and a year ago he founded Sporthink, an agency which advises on financing and capital increase operations for projects within the sports industry.
Other than being an expert who has collaborated with leading LaLiga clubs and major brands such as Adidas Red Bull or Rakuten, Rayde has been a member of the World Football Summit Advisory Board since its foundation in 2016.
In this interview, we take a look at the sports industry, building your own content generation engine and the intensity of competition in the global entertainment sector that football clubs face.
In the coming weeks we will talk to Rayde again, and he will share with us his impressions of the NFT market and reveal four start ups that are doing interesting things in the world of sports.
“The competition within the entertainment world has always been there. Quality content is needed to compete for the time and attention of the fan.”
World Football Summit: It’s said that, in this era, clubs and sport properties should operate as a media company if they want to successfully face this digital revolution. Would you agree?
Rayde Luis Báez: That’s, for example, the project around Barça Studios or Real Madrid TV, and all the media conglomerate that other teams would like to build. But at the end of the day, every weekend you have to go out to win a game, sign players, fight against, let’s say, all that news of greater or lesser importance that make the sporting part, which is what’s at the centre, function properly.
Therefore, given its complexity, many teams don’t have the capacity or even the interest to do it.
However, I believe that there are many warnings signs to look out for and, ultimately, we come back to the same thing, the audience wants to hear from those protagonists who understand that they are legitimised and validated to give the news, what has happened on the field, what has happened off the field, and what happens behind the scenes.
WFS: The challenge is to adapt to a world in constant evolution in which they no longer have a monopoly of attention….
Báez: Actually, the competition within the entertainment world has always been there. As a friend of mine, Didac Lee, a former executive at F.C. Barcelona and, above all, a successful entrepreneur in the digital world, has previously said: ‘The competition for clubs isn’t only coming from other clubs. In terms of media, it’s Netflix, it’s Disney, it’s the movie listings, it’s the theatrical offerings in the cities.’
Quality content is needed to compete for the time and attention of the fan.
Year, Month, Week, Day….
If anything, entertainment bundling (music+sports) to generate more value, seems like a winner (today). pic.twitter.com/bWNV1tONaP
— Rayde Luis Baez (@RaydeLuisBT) March 15, 2022
WFS: In that sense, in the United States they are experts in this, would you have two or three reasons to explain, from your perspective, this difference?
Báez: I think there are historical factors, based on a more “business-driven” vision of what is the management of a team. It’s true that the North American market in general, and specifically the U.S. market, keeps aligned to advertising investment; it’s a very visual market. The goal is to try to get as much time on the air as possible to get your message across, and that’s not as developed in other European markets.
In the case of the Spanish market, I believe that the sports offer is poorly dimensioned compared to that of advertising. Moreover, in the United States there’s greater transversality because sports are more a form of entertainment.
In other words, going to a Brooklyn Nets game at the Barclays Center is like going to a theatre. In fact, it’s designed to create that immersive feeling that a stage creates and it’s a recreational event like any other in New York City. In Spain, on the other hand, you go to a soccer match because you are a soccer fan, you go to basketball game if you like basketball, and if you don’t, you have a wide variety of leisure activities in every city in Spain.
WFS: Given this context, how do you think the role of the specialised sports media has been left and what do you think they should do to recover the relevance they had at the beginning of the century?
Báez: There are two perspectives, the business perspective and the “news cycle” perspective. The media is a business that is based on the accumulation of audiences. Consequently, there is an issue of economic balance that is difficult to maintain as well as a tendency towards volume. And, when a certain volume is sought, quality is often sacrificed.
I don’t think we have to go very far back, because seven to eight years ago, different content and media models were already starting to emerge, especially in markets that are much more advanced in this part of the business, such as the United States or the English-Speaking world in general. And in my opinion, this trend represents an opportunity that sports media in this case had and still have, which is to be content containers and not content producers. The content that the audience wants to see and hear is the one generated directly by the protagonists; the established media have a great asset and that is the distribution they can offer.
Let’s talk about aggregating, segmenting and distributing content, not just creating news.
WFS: Going back to football clubs, the implementation of their own content management models opens the possibility of generating new sponsorship agreements with companies that seek to engage with their fans. What advice would you give to a professional football club when it comes to closing those deals?
Báez: First, don’t sign everything that comes your way, and this is very difficult to say; I have been and continue to be a property salesman.
It’s difficult to sell sponsorships; selling is difficult, as is building balanced agreements and, statistically, we’re in an industry in which there are more “nos” than “yes'”, and there are some numbers to be reached, some budgets to be covered, but what I would recommend is to be cautious and to put means in place so that the sales process is as safe as possible. This involves legal means, external consultants, people who understand these business models and who allow you to proceed with certain levels of security.
There’s no bad deal until there is something unforeseen that there is no way to contain.
Rayde is a member of the WFS Speaker’s Bureau, a service World Football Summit offers to companies that want to have top experts from the soccer, sports and entertainment industry. If your company is looking to get first-hand information on trends, best practices or learn from the leaders who are leading change in the sports industry, contact us here.