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NBC and Refinery29 Promote Female Empowerment Through ‘On Her Turf’

The multi-platform campaign enables both brands to tell stories about women breaking barriers throughout the sports world.

Bailey Knecht

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Photo Credit: On Her Turf

Before it was a multi-platform venture, On Her Turf was an Instagram account with a mission.

It was the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, and NBC Sports was committed to better showcasing women in the Games. Enter On Her Turf, a partnership with Refinery29 that shared stories of female Olympians in hopes of inspiring women around the world.

“The intention, initially, was that the Olympics are such an awesome promotional platform, so there was no better time to launch something, and we were not short on female-focused storylines for the Olympics,” said Lyndsay Signor, vice president of consumer engagement at NBC Sports.

Team USA women made history that year, taking home more medals than the men for the first time in two decades. In that moment, Signor and her team realized the endless potential for On Her Turf.

“We knew [PyeongChang] was a great place to start, but we also knew it wasn’t just an Olympic-focused initiative,” she said. “From there, we were looking at all sports, not just the ones NBC carries.”

READ MORE: NFL Viewership Growth Throughout Europe Exposes Opportunities in the US

One year later, NBC Sports and Refinery29 have built On Her Turf into a multimedia platform. Beyond the Instagram account, On Her Turf features a podcast hosted by Kathryn Tappen, a video series and experiential activations including an On Her Turf section of the NBC Sports Sunday Night Football bus.

“It’s sort of that whole idea of, ‘If you can see her, you can be her,” said Signor. “It’s a cross-platform mantra, and it’s about being your best self on and off the field… We’re sticking with that mantra across everything and highlighting women in and around sports.”

The short-form video series, titled “Football is Female,” has been particularly successful for the On Her Turf brand. It showcased everyone from players to media to front office personnel — and, as Signor learned, there is no shortage of future storytelling opportunities in that space.

“We ran out of time more than running out of stories to highlight these women,” Signor said. “We didn’t even scratch the surface… For football, in particular, the storylines are not limited.”

On Her Turf remains a collaborative effort between NBC Sports and Refinery29, with content creators and communications managers on both sides. The partnership has been mutually beneficial. For Refinery29, a company that takes the approach of broader female empowerment, working with NBC Sports offers a pathway toward new relationships in the sports world.  

“At Refinery29, our goal is to highlight the role sports play for women and partnering with NBC Sports gives us the ability to extend deeper into the space,” said Refinery29’s chief content officer, Amy Emmerich. “Not only do we acquire access to powerful female athletes, but also to female sports fans and top female executives and personalities at the leagues themselves.”

Meanwhile, Signor believes NBC Sports has been aided by Refinery29’s appeal among a demographic NBC Sports has been targeting.

“Refinery29 has a masterful way of talking to young women, so in creating a sports, female-focused vertical, there was no one better to partner with,” Signor echoed. “They talk in an authentic way to young women, and we want to talk to the younger generation, and for this particular brand, women were the focal point. Refinery29 has been a great partner in helping us, because they’re not necessarily sports experts, but we’re not necessarily millennial, woman experts, either.”

As the two organizations have come together to combine their different skill sets, they’ve been able to create targeted, cohesive content for the On Her Turf platform.

“We’re asking, ‘What do future sports fans look like, and how are they consuming media and sports content?’ and that’s something we think about on the marketing and social side,” Signor said. “We both brought our expertise to the table, so it’s for people who are sports fans and not sports fans, and the woman who wants to wake up and crush the day, and that’s where we landed.”

READ MORE: How Two Top Brands Market Products Via Partnership With NASCAR

Emmerich said On Her Turf has grown more than 1400 percent since its launch. The Instagram account has nearly 27 thousand followers, and in December, the channel’s video success was at an all-time high with 310 thousand views and 345 percent engagement. That upward trajectory has both companies eyeing breakthroughs in new areas, too, with Signor pointing to the World cup and Kentucky Derby as events that will be heavily featured by On Her Turf. That will put them on track to reach a special milestone in 2020.

“With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it comes full circle,” she added. “There are even more female storylines for the summer Olympics for On Her Turf to be a huge part of that journey.”

On Her Turf is about more than sports, though. For Emmerich and Signor, the brand fulfills a greater purpose—one that has the power to make a real impact on women in all facets of life.

Women are multifaceted with a wide breadth of interests and perspectives, which is why disrupting traditional spaces is so important to us,” Emmerich said. “We hope that by elevating underrepresented voices, we can change how women are represented in media and advertising.”

Bailey Knecht is a Northeastern University graduate and has worked for New Balance, the Boston Bruins and the Northeastern and UMass Lowell athletic departments. She covers media and marketing for Front Office Sports, with an emphasis on women's sports and basketball. She can be contacted at bailey@frntofficesport.com.

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Golf Digest Back Charging For Growth With New Owner

Golf Digest is set to embark on its third ownership transition in its nearly 70 years of operation and all signs point to growth under new owners.

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Photo Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Discovery, Inc. continues its drive into golf with the acquisition of Golf Digest.

Discovery had already entered the golf space, attaining exclusive rights deals outside the U.S. for the PGA Tour, European Tour and Ladies European Tour. GOLFTV, an international streaming service launched by Discovery this past New Year’s Day, is in year one of a 12-year, $2.4 billion deal carrying the PGA Tour’s TV and streaming rights outside the U.S. Discovery also has global content deals with Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari, using GOLFTV as its platform.

The bullish approach follows the trend of niche content in today’s media landscape. Discovery knows this firsthand with Food Network and MotorTrend. In sports, Discovery has had success with Eurosport and realizes sport fans crave consistent coverage.

READ MORE: The Caddie Network Partnership With Golf Digest Shows Power of Niche Platforms

“We’re looking to evolve our business and investing in content and genres that work for traditional and digital channels,” says Alex Kaplan, Discovery Golf president and general manager. “We learned from our experience with Eurosport Player, it’s very difficult to build an engaged fanbase when we offer multi-sport content.

“Let’s go deep into a specific vertical. Golf rights were available in an expansive way, and it’s not just compelling to watch, but fans play it, buy it, travel for it. It’s an ecosystem that was particularly compelling.”

The acquisition includes all brands under the Golf Digest brand, including Golf World, Golf Digest Schools and The Loop. According to the press release, Golf Digest attracts 4.8 million monthly readers and 60 million monthly video views. That’s along with its 2.2 million social followers.

This is Golf Digest’s third transition of ownership in its nearly 70 years of operation. All three have brought the media company different advantages, says Golf Digest editor Jerry Tarde, who’s been with the company for 42 years.

Tarde said The New York Times, which acquired the magazine in 1969, brought the basics and values of journalism, while Conde Nast, the owner since 2001, brought design, art and sophistication to the brand. Now, Tarde believes Discovery will bring growth.

Tarde, along with being editor-in-chief, gains a new title and role: Discovery Golf global head of strategy and content.

“This is an organization we’re at the heart of, in terms of developing sports and connecting with a high-value audience that’s passionate about the subject,” Tarde says. “This is the most exciting thing to happen to Golf Digest since it was founded in 1950. It lights a fire under us and gives us an opportunity to improve and expand U.S. coverage.

“We’ll also be able to extend it worldwide to more than 200 countries.”

On the other side of the equation, the acquisition gives Discovery a golf presence in the U.S. Kaplan said Discovery has been collecting its golf assets and knew an editorial vertical would be crucial, but it could take years to build. The Golf Digest acquisition allows Discovery to acquire that piece with one check.

“Our offering to golf fans and golf advertisers is now that of a global platform,” Kaplan says. “We can bring an aggregated golf audience anywhere in the world.”

READ MORE: GolfPass Could Set Standard in 21st-Century Sports Media

With a strong strategy in place, it will be business as usual for the time being, Tarde says, but there will be talk of new ideas and potential investments. Discovery will retain Golf Digest staff, continue the U.S. monthly print product and acquire global licenses for editions 70 countries.

“We’ve got a great team that’s been underutilized, really,” Tarde said. “Because of the way the publishing economy has been treated, our business has been in retreat. That’s now the way I spent my first 30 years. We were charging.

“This is the exciting part, we’re back on the charge.”

Like Tiger Woods on the prowl on Sunday.

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Inside the XFL’s New TV Deals

With nine months to go until its first game, the XFL has locked in its lineup of broadcast partners for all 43 regular season games.

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Photo Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

With nine months to go until its first game, the XFL has locked in its lineup of broadcast partners.

The deals will see all 43 games appear on either broadcast or cable TV and will see them divided up between ABC, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and FS2.

What do you need to know?

1. – 24 of the XFL’s 43 games to be on broadcast TV (13 on ABC; 11 on Fox)

2. – According to Joe Flint of the WSJ, the deals are for three years, but no cash is changing hands.

3. – As part of the deals, the broadcast partners will cover the production costs of the games, which John Ourand notes will run $400,000 per game.

4. – Disney and Fox will keep all the television advertising inventory for the games while the XFL will handle the selling of sponsorships in the venues, according to Flint.

Will we see a repeat of 2001? 

The XFL’s reboot will come 19 years after McMahon and company attempted to make spring football a thing. Like the AAF this year, the league started with a promising opening night and then sputtered to the end. By the end of its first and only season, the XFL saw its ratings fall from a 9.5 to a 1.5 at their lowest point, according to OSW Review.

While the first time around may have not gone as planned, executives from all sides of the table are enthusiastic about the possibilities.

“The effort Vince is throwing behind it with his own personal capital and the combination of Fox and Disney platforms give us the best chance to make spring football work.” – ESPN programming chief Burke Magnus to Joe Flint of the WSJ.

Rolling into upfronts…

The announcement of the deals couldn’t have come at a more strategic time for all parties involved with upfronts scheduled to begin in six days. Given the fact that the broadcast partners will be responsible for selling ads, it would be rather surprising if the XFL inventory wasn’t included in their presentations.

Last year alone, the television upfront market for commercials generated $20.8 billion in commitment from advertisers, up 5.2% from the previous year, according to an estimate by Media Dynamics.

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Why Fewer Ad Breaks are Coming to the Super Bowl

Fox will be cutting back the number of commercial breaks for the big game by one, having only four breaks per quarter instead of five.

Front Office Sports

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Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

Next year’s Super Bowl might feel slightly different to viewers.

That’s because Fox will be cutting back the number of commercial breaks for the big game by one, having only four breaks per quarter instead of five, according to Brian Steinberg of Variety.

Fewer breaks, but the same amount of commercials…

Although Fox will be cutting down one whole commercial break each quarter, the four that remain will be slightly longer, allowing the broadcaster to still have the same amount of slots for advertisers even with fewer breaks in the action.

This isn’t a first for the NFL…

The league has been working with broadcast partners since last year to find new ways to deliver advertisements during telecasts. The initiative last year focused on delivering more sponsored vignettes and less “billboard” ads, a change that could be difficult at times for the networks seeing as in the past they have used the “billboard” inventory as bonuses to big-spending sponsors, according to Variety.

Why do they want to cut down? According to calculations from Streaming Observer’s Chris Brantner, the average NFL fan watches almost 24 hours of advertisements in a season.

Or other leagues…

As leagues battle for the attention of their consumers, making sure they give them less time to check their phone or change the channel has become a priority.

Earlier this year, MLB announced that it was planning to reduce each national commercial break by 25 seconds, NASCAR has been using split screen advertising since its days on ESPN back in 2011, and the NBA has done it with ESPN during timeouts.

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