Natalie Novak  

Hi everyone welcome back. Our next see space storyteller session will feature Oren Katzeff, President of Conde Nast entertainment and Heidi Browning, Chief Marketing Officer of the National Hockey league as they examine the evolution of sports media, and how the creation of a new of new divisions like GQ sports will change the way that people consume sports media, and explore the effects of on athletes, and today's culture and a media and how they influence their influence on society goes far beyond sports. Please join me in welcoming to the stage Oren and Heidi, welcome.


Oren Katzeff  

Thank you, Natalie. Hi, everybody. I'm Oren catsa. I'm the president of Conde Nast entertainment. And I'm going to talk a little bit about our launch of GQ sports, why we did it, what that meant, how it's performing. And then I'm, it's with great excitement that I'll bring Heidi rounding out who's the CMO, the NHL, really delighted to have her here today, not only because I'm a huge sports fan, but she's done a great job and has some great stories to share as well. So from a GQ sports standpoint, we launched last September. And what we did is we launched a a platform and a channel that's all about lifestyle. It's a destination dedicate The lives of athletes outside of the stadium. The channel has unparalleled access with in depth conversations closet tours and look at some of our athletes more coveted collections. And before I go any further I'm going to just share a quick sizzle so you get an idea of what the GQ sports vibe is.

Chris I'm with a digital sports channel looks like. So in terms of breaking down what the three tenants of our offering are and what GQ sports is all about. One is it's more access and content asked gets great access to athletes to celebrities. It's about providing that access to our audience to is more lifestyle, creating content that has a lifestyle vibe to it. And that shows people what the lifestyle side of being an athlete means and what that stands for. And finally, it's about more personality. Again, you know, we don't want to show games, we don't want to show highlights. We're offering viewers the chance to see their favorite athletes in a more intimate level and offering them a new way to connect with popular athletes. So why did we launched GQ sports for a number of different reasons. One is the GQ already had a powerful sports fan base that we wanted to tap into. We noticed interesting sports trends and GQ and GQ YouTube channel that viewers were tuning in and tuning in at a higher rate when we had sports content and athletes. As an example, one of the episodes of a show we have called tattoo tour garnered 72% more views, and there's an athlete on that show. So the first part of why we did this was really about audience and data, looking at the data, interpreting the data and making decisions based on that data. too is that we wanted to diversify our library content, and to include more sports programming in the same voice and in the same style of all the other GQ content that we were doing. And third is that we really saw that there was a void in the market for lifestyle sports content, and we need that there's a lot of advertiser demand for it. And so when we launched GQ sports, we launched with sponsors like body armor, jack daniels, and Levi's again, really bridging the gap and creating great content for audience and for advertisers as well. The investment so far would say is paid off. You know, through strategic insights and engaging original series, we've become one of the leaders already in the sports vertical. We share some stats with you so you don't just take my word for it. But since launching the first week of September, GQ sports we've garnered over 50 million views and over 4 million hours watched again just since the first week of September. We've owned six of the 10 most viewed sports originals on YouTube, since launch as well so you know, we go to market with original series and I'll share a couple quick examples of, of what that means. And what kind of shows we've done. We've done over 100,000 subscribers in just the first hundred days and our channel now has over 185,000 subscribers again just in a few months. And finally, with one of the first videos we launched, it was number 14 on the YouTube trend list out of all videos, not just in sports, but of all videos launched on YouTube in that time period. So we look at, you know, what does that mean? What does our programming look like? An example of one of the shows it's doing really well as a show called one on one there's a screenshot of Rick Ross interviewing Dwayne Wade, but this is really a show where a sports fan celebrity says we have another episode where Spike Lee and her interviews RJ Barrett sits down in a studio and has an intimate conversation with an athlete. These interviews are about 45 minutes long. And as you can see, in just a couple episodes, we've done over a million views in the series. Another example is a show called the assist. And whether it's talking to Steph Curry shot doctor or the stat wizards or the science back trainers, it's the people behind the shadows that Helping athletes become who they are. And in just a few episodes of this show, we have over 600,000 views there again exposing part of the sports genre and part of sports that you don't see every day they don't necessarily see in the game. Before I wrap up and bring Heidi on stage again, I'm very excited to do just want to talk a little bit about where are we going, what is GQ sports going to do in 2020 and beyond. First is we're going to continue to grow our content offering for both our audience and our advertisers. Again, we've had great traction. So far, we've had great average advertiser interest, and we want to continue to grow that, too is we're going to partner with top filmmakers. We've already gotten a lot of outpouring, not only from athletes, but from content creators wanting to team up with us to create this kind of lifestyle content with their athletes. It's great promotional opportunity for them, it's a great opportunity for them to connect with their audience and their fans. And we intend to continue to do that in 2020. And then finally, we're going to expand GQ sports beyond YouTube. We've had a great launch and great success there. But you're going to see it grow even more and GQ. com you're gonna see grown other social channels and our goal is for To really be the top lifestyle sports channel in existence. Alright, so, you know, the NHL also believes in promoting their athletes beyond the ice to expand the fan experience and to attract new and younger audiences. And this effort is led by Heidi browning, the Chief Marketing Officer for the NHL and a CMO Heidi leads and sales growth marketing strategy with a focus on digital innovation and social media. Before I bring her on stage, I want to share with you a really cool sizzle reel for the NHL.

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure introduce to the stage Heidi browning.


Heidi Browning  

Hello


Oren Katzeff  

How are you? Good to see you.


Heidi Browning  

Good to see you too. Good morning, everybody. How are you feeling this day? So both got a CES voice.


Oren Katzeff  

We do have CES voice that that actually that was going to be my first question, which is, it's day four of CES, which in I think normal non Vegas times like 17 days. How are you feeling? How's the week been?


Heidi Browning  

I feel fantastic. 


Oren Katzeff  

Great. Great. 


Heidi Browning  

Great.


Oren Katzeff  

So let's dive in. You know, you you joined the NHL on its hundredth anniversary? And can you tell me in the audience a little bit? What what what drove you to the opportunity and in you know, and how do you preserve the brand and grow the brand? What's you know, what's sort of the day to day for you?


Heidi Browning  

Well, the opportunity to join a brand that was just turning 100 as a gift that every marketer dreams of right? So the, you know, to take this beloved brand that's steeped in tradition and history in this passionate Passionate fan base, and think about how can we evolve this for the next hundred years and the next fans, the future fans. And so we do this in really a three prong strategy. Number one is social media and you saw this is all there, we've really started to evolve our voice and our content that we're sharing on social media, we obviously show all great highlights and of the games and feature that but we've also been really focused on lightening our tone, we call it you know, let's not polish the shield so much, but let's get out there and have a more engaging and personal conversation with our community and our fans. And we know through looking at all the data that we see through engagement data across all the platforms, that really those human moments are, the ones that resonate are the ones that are most liked, most shared, most commented on etc. So we have a mantra that's called humans are greater than highlights. So we focus on that with our social media. The second area that we're focused on is developing original content. And we have some of the you know, The best athletes in the world. And they're also very humble. And they are, you know, as we talked with young fans, they love athletes, they look up to them, they shape their identity around them. But ours are mysterious. They don't know them, they say they're quiet off the ice. So our mission is to do more storytelling about our players, peel off the visors, talk about their lives, their wives, their talents, etc. And you got to see a little bit of that. And then the third area is really around innovation. And the one thing that we know about fans, future fans younger generations is that they they thrive on innovation. And if you as a brand are not out there innovating on behalf of yourself, they will innovate for you or they'll move on. And so we've been investing an incredible amount of resources in all kinds of innovation, including obviously eSports with NHL 20 we've got a new technology coming out called player and pop tracking. What this does is it we have a chip in the jersey and then a chip in the puck, which sounds like you know, other sports do this, but it's very, very difficult and hockey because you've got the challenge of force, speed and temperature. So that we've been in r&d for years trying to get something that could hold up feel like a boat smell like a bug. So the players didn't know that it was, you know, it had this chip technology in it. But that chip technology is going to give off, it's going to change everything from the broadcast experience will be able to have real up to date data on, you know, how much how fast they're skating, how hard was the shot, etc, will also be able to channel that into sports betting. So people who might be interested in doing prop bets in the states where it's legal, will be able to facilitate that. And then you can also take that data and translate it into VR. So rendering the game in near real time with a four second delay, and then having a VR experience. So to me, that's game changing, and we're really excited about it. 


Oren Katzeff  

That's great and so much to unpack there. And let's, let's start on the content side. So your backgrounds really interesting. You've been at Pandora, you've been at Universal McCann, you've been at my space. And you have a really core deep content background, which I think is an excellent way to really think about how to how to do your job on a day to day basis on the marketing side. How has that impacted the way that you think about marketing for the NHL, and even maybe about the people that you hire and the team that you have around you?


Heidi Browning  

Absolutely. Me being an early adopter in the digital world that even before that it organic, which was one of the first agencies out there, there to like transformational moments in marketing that happened at those companies that I bring with me today and apply to everything we do. Number one, my space, but does anyone still remember my space? Come on people. It was a it was an extraordinary experience. It was one of the best like business school of life experiences. Because if you think about it, that was the first time people had iPhones. And they had they were they became content creators and then they also had district Be some platforms all in one place. And that was the birth of at the time called user generated content, etc. What and it really changed the social contract between brands and consumers forever. And you know, the opportunity to have a dialogue instead of having a one way voice and the idea that, that consumers can actually change and shape a brand and expect to be responded to and hurt. So the principle I bring from that experience is really all about listening. And I know it sounds basic, but we can't do enough listening with your fans. The second principle came from Pandora. And that is the power of personal and with social media, enabling us to have conversations one to one conversations with the ability to unify massive data sets and really understand more and more about your fan to deliver personalized experiences. This is the future and so that notion of listening and personal is really important. And one you know quickly. example of how this comes to life is a favorite story I have. So just bear with me this. When I first started at the league, I got a physical letter in the mail, which was exciting because I don't get mail from humans ever. And, and I opened it and it was Sabrina Solomon and she wrote me this letter and said, Hey, I read this article about you in the Wall Street Journal and know you're trying to reach younger fans, and hey, you know, School's out, and I, you know, have a bunch of ideas, and I'm happy to work for free. I just live, you know, nearby the office. And so of course, we couldn't hire her. And so we brought her in and introduced her to a bunch of different people in the organization, including the commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. Well, she comes in with a full PowerPoint filled with ideas. And she presents them to the in our boardroom to all of us with great poise. And they were great ideas. In fact, they were so great. Some of them we were already doing, but she didn't know it, and she was a superfan. She knows every rule in the book by the number like that. superfan and she didn't know we were doing some of these things. And that's one of those moments as a marketer where you're, that's an aha moment, right? where you're like, we're doing all this great stuff, but it's not resonating with the audience that we are trying to reach and that exact audience that we're trying to evolve our brand for. So what we did, from the insights that we gleaned in that moment that we tried to do gender balance, it was reflective of our, of our own audience. And I'll tell you, they tell us everything, they're so impressive, each one has a little superpower. Their their incredible meeting, like one's got a whole YouTube channel that's gained 9000 followers since he's joined this, you know, others are mean creators, others are journalists and others are, you know, podcasters it's just really exciting to learn from them and they're continuing to shape our marketing for the show.


Oren Katzeff  

And to add to that, one of the things you and I talked about this week is how fans show their fanfare and fandom for your sport, your league, your players, and one way That they do it today that maybe they weren't doing it 10 years ago is they upload clips of their favorite athletes or they create beams or they create their own 15 second videos that they share with the world. And that is today's way of saying I love this team. I love this player. Can you talk a little bit about how that's impacted the NHL?


Heidi Browning  

Yeah, I mean it's, it's scary for brands right and especially scary when you're a brand that relies on you know, the the broadcast rights fees. So highlights get a little tricky with what you can do and when you can do it and what fans can do out there. But it is so important to make sure that we're enabling the ability to take and create and share the content. We had one one young fan on Twitter who her handle was at my regular face and she was cranking out gifts faster than we could faster than the you know the production companies in the in. It was BAM tech at the time. And her gifts started to get picked up from the media and she was just cutting them from The broadcast television, which is again is against the rules, if you will. And we, you know, we reached out to her and talked with her and we found out she's not trying to monetize it or anything. She's just a superfan. She's got her whole setup with all of her screens or things and she loves the game of hockey. So we hired her. And now she does all the gifts for us and cranks out 10s of thousands a year and is phenomenal. But that's a you know, it's a way to like kind of flip how you think to take advantage of the mindset of that young generation and how they want to engage with brands.


Oren Katzeff  

Yeah, and if we take a second to talk about some of the premium original content that you're doing, you have a show with Snoop Dogg called hockey one. Let's start with this can tell the audience a little bit about that show. How you came up with it and just some of the background on it.


Heidi Browning  

Sure, sure. This is a fun one. So in the spirit of always listening to our fans. We also do a lot of focus groups and the focus groups aren't talking to our superfans. We're talking to casual sports. Fans, people who may or may not be watching a lot of hockey and we're trying to understand what are the barriers and perceptions of our sport? And how can we get people to watch more. And one of the things that we learned in these focus groups was that, well, our fan base is so admired because it's very tribal, very passionate, very community related, they want to be a part of it. But they're also intimidated to a little intimidated by it. There's so much history and tradition and rules and strategies, and it's very different. And so they're intimidated to ask their friends who are super fans, about you know, that the questions that they have. So our idea was, how do we make the rules and traditions and slang accessible? How do we tap into, you know, sort of a cultural icon to help us with that, so that we can reach entirely new audiences that aren't following us today? So Snoop was a natural for us. I don't know if you know this, but he's a huge hockey fan. He's got an incredible hockey IQ. And we develop this entire series where he You know, gave his views snoops view of teaching you what is icing what is offsides? What's the slang? What's the history? What's the tradition with a stanley cup? And it was phenomenal. We had over 31 million views on that alone. And over 75% of them came from people who weren't following us already, which was exactly what we wanted to like bridge that, you know, gap between who's following and who's not as new. Such an interesting choice too, because from a music perspective, coming from Pandora, he's one of those people that is connective tissue between generations. You know, he's from my generation. And you know, the kids are listening to him too. So that's why it was fantastic to work with him.


Oren Katzeff  

Yeah. And on that front, are there plans to do more original programming either with Snoop or other


Heidi Browning  

Absolutely we're doing more and more of it we've got since we're here in Vegas, we've got hockey is magic with Justin Flom, and who's also happens to be a huge hockey fan. He actually created all of his tricks. He made hockey find them So we have that, that series that's been going out on our social channels, you can catch it on YouTube or Instagram TV, you can find it anywhere. We also have a series called skates off. And this is more in the in line with like what you might see. And you know, the Olympics when they do profile pieces on our players. And, you know, we've got a huge disadvantage compared to other sports, in that our players are on and off the ice so quickly, they're covered up, they've got visors, you can't see their, you know, their bodies because they've got so much padding and stuff on. So this is our opportunity to really peel back the visor showcase who they are, what their talents are, and their interests, you know, get into the lives, the wives and the dogs and all that good stuff and really showcase what good humans they are. They really are not only humble, but really good people. They're all connected into the community and they're committed to giving back and so it's great to bring those stories to life.


Oren Katzeff  

And if we switch gears for a second to social, I mentioned how much I liked your sizzle. And I think one of the things that jumped out at me immediately after just watching the first 30 seconds and it permeates the entire thing is, it's almost I think it's almost 100% social, right? There's some clips of games and things, but for the most part, it's set up in a way. The feel the vibe, the ethos is clips from players giving access to themselves, what they like connecting with fans. It seems like that's obvious, right? It seems like Well, of course, you should be using social but yet a not everybody does. And not everybody does it. Well, but but you in the NHL have done such a good job with it. Can you talk a little bit about how you made that happen? what that looks like in your office was that originally met with some speculation like how do you actually get that working day in and day out?


Heidi Browning  

When you when you look at growth strategy? Obviously the first thing you do is you look at your opportunity. What's my audience opportunity? There were 700 million sports fans on social media, and they follow athletes first, then Then teams and then leagues like the majority follow athletes, teams and leagues. So if you think about it, our athletes are a linchpin to growth and global growth, right. And so, as we thought about it, and we looked at our numbers we have our athletes are sort of the least involved on social media of all sports out there. It's part of the culture, right? The culture is about the name on the front of your sweater, the team name, not the name on the back, and it's very team oriented. So there has been, they've been slow to adopt social in the past because nobody wants to stand out in the locker room or in the organization. So we've done a lot of educating at all levels of the hockey ecosystem, from you know, the players, the coaches, the owners, the GM, the, you know, you name it that we partner with the NHL pa to help educate on the benefits and value of social media. And then we create tools to help enable getting content to the players, but what we're really proud of is over the course of time In the you know, the, the younger players are actually helping drive this because they're born and raised on social media. But over the course of time, we've seen such big more and more momentum around adoption. The one clip that we showed earlier, where they were doing that first person view of what's happening behind the Stanley Cup is called cup confidential. That was a game changer for us. We had all 16 teams participating in that during the playoff runs, would you don't do anything to mess with the playoff run vibrations, if you know what I mean? But this was great, because and it was the one thing that I think is unlocking what's different about us. There's no way we're going to turn into the NBA in terms of how we social, but what that did was it allowed one person from every team to showcase their team showcase their line, showcase what goes on behind and that is really what you know, they like to do so felt like a great opportunity. 


Oren Katzeff  

Yeah, yeah. Well, one of the things you mentioned when we when we first started talking was a little bit about data. And I think you know, especially being at CES with tech the notion of data comes up a lot. And it's there's data everywhere. Everybody says they have a ton of data. And to make another somewhat old school music reference what I was talking about, I go back to the old Heavy D song, you know, now that we found love, what are we going to do with it? Well, now that we found data, what are we going to do with it? Because everybody's got data? How do you think about the role that data plays in your life day to day and again when we all say we have it you don't want data to be the be all end all? There's I always think there's got a little bit of mix of art and science. How do you think about that?


Heidi Browning  

Well, we are committed to being a data driven insight led organization right if you have all the data in the world, but you can't you know, Craig, some insights, actionable insights out of it, it's not really have any value. And we just completed a, you know, a two year project of unifying all of our data sources over 16 years and 20 sources, it was not easy. In fact, I underestimated how, how much time and how challenging it is, but now think about what that's going to do about our ability to personalize ability to build fan of validity models across all channels. In, you know, and to unify real world data with digital data, and be able to use that to personalize maybe ticket packages or merchandise choices or even content as it goes. So it's hugely important and it's going to play a bigger and bigger role for us, as well as for our partners,


Oren Katzeff  

Right. We are unfortunately running out of time, so many more questions for you. But I have time for one more. And what I'm going to ask you is you may have seen in the GQ sports system, we have a show called average Joe, where we put an average person in sports situations and one of the great episodes was we put clay Skipper in goal as a hockey goalie. My question for you, is it Do you think that's highly recommended? And if someone offered that to me, should I take them up on it?


Heidi Browning  

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I do think that that, you know, everyone says that experiencing the sport live for your first time is really how you fall in love with it. And so whether it's you're trying it out, or you're going to a game and seeing the best athletes on the planet on the ice, you feel the game you see it, I think You should get the opportunity that we can make that happen like,


Oren Katzeff  

Well, Heidi, thank you for spending time with us. Again, congrats on your success. I'm a big fan of what you're doing. I'm a big fan of yours and content, data and social to drive the success you've been having. So, best of luck to you in 2020 and beyond. And again, thank you for 


Heidi Browning  

Thank you so much. Have a great CES, everybody.


Oren Katzeff  

Thanks, everybody.


Unknown Speaker  

Thank you so much. orden Heidi, two sessions down, three more to go. We're going to take a brief break for lunch, but we're We hope to see you back here at 1pm. We'll begin our final afternoon of sessions. See then

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