Panel discussion on data-driven partnerships

This month, we held a closed thought leader panel discussion focused on audience and commercial growth opportunities. Hosted by Stephanie Rose, Head of Business Operations, Digital & Data at CSM, the panel explored a new, accessible, and lucrative sponsorship model that has revolutionised the way our industry drives performance via partnerships.

The landscape of sports investment and partnerships is evolving at a rapid pace, presenting greater opportunities to create sustainable and inclusive sporting communities. Sport holds the power to connect with audiences on a large scale, opening doors for enhanced accessibility and increased revenue generation. The panel included Richard Craig-McFeely, WW Sports Evangelist, AWS, David Ingham, Client Partner, Media Entertainment & Sport, Cognizant, and Tom Huggins, Group Digital & Data Director, CSM Sport & Entertainment. Here are a few of our key takeaways from the conversation:

Reach your audience at scale

The importance of understanding the role of sport in connecting audiences at scale was highlighted in the session. As major brands enter the space, each seeking direct returns on their investment, the ability to measure performance becomes critical. To boost revenue, the industry must embrace a different mindset and adapt to market-driven trends, fulfilling brands’ need for quick access to their target audience.

Give the fans what they want

In a competitive market, with brands vying to capture that increasingly precious piece of attention from its consumers, the significance of understanding your fanbase cannot be overstated. Personalised content, tailored to individual preferences, becomes an expectation rather than a request. Gathering and analysing fan data is vital in order to speak directly to your audience and maintain their engagement. As always, authenticity is crucial, particularly when engaging with younger audiences, who react negatively to spurious interactions.

The future is D2C

The shift towards a direct-to-consumer business model for fan engagement was another point stressed. Personalisation, smart ticketing – the use of advanced technology for convenient and secure ticketing experiences, and the ability to leverage fan data have become essential differentiating factors.

Partnerships can address the challenges brands face in accessing audiences by helping to create genuine cut-through, and effective storytelling. The current state of play in the industry shows early signs of a transformative journey.

Rights holders investing in the right data

Rights holders are equipping themselves with the latest technology, yet the question remains whether they possess the right data to support the desired initiatives. Overcoming challenges, such as perceiving investment in understanding your audience as a cost rather than a revenue generating opportunity, requires a change in mindset to recognise the potential value of data-driven partnerships.

The major opportunity for the future lies in realising the substantial revenue impact that can be achieved with minor changes in partnership strategies and the way they approach audience engagement. Starting small, with attribution models and reviewing outcomes, can pave the way for more extensive transformations. Traditional partnerships still hold value, especially when combined with innovative approaches.

Embracing change regardless of scale, prioritising fan experience enhancement and, ultimately, capturing first-party data will become the currency of the future. These incremental improvements in measuring and adding value back to fans can unlock substantial revenue growth for the industry.

If you’re interested in maximising the potential of your partnerships, please reach out to Tom Huggins ( for more information.