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AIPS calls for more investment in youth as MediaAccord delves into how sports and its coverage will be consumed in the future

MediaAccord's Millennials and the Media panel: (L-R) AFP head of Sports Marketing Jerome Martin, FIBA’s Digital Projects Manager Motasem El Bawab, Sonja Nikcevic of AIPS, and ikki Symmons, Digital Manager of the International Hockey Federation with panel moderator James Pearce of BBC Sport. (Photo: SportAccord)
by Sandeep Nakai, AIPS Member, India

BANGKOK, April 20, 2018 - Digital media coverage and the dramatic change in scenario for journalists delivering sports to millennial audiences was the theme of the first Media Accord organised by Sport Accord during its annual conclave in Bangkok.

Millennials and the media How will the fans consume sport, and media in future was the underlying theme at the Media Accord with the audience comprising international sports federations as well as professionals of the sports industry. As the international body of sports press, AIPS was also present in the discussion during the the Media Accord’s “Millenials and the Media” panel session where AIPS Media’s Sonja Nikcevic confirmed that investing in youth and culture was the way forward for a healthy media landscape in the future.

Detailing the work of the AIPS Young Reporters programme, Sonja Nikcevic said: “We need to train young people to produce the kind of content that you want people to see, but there is a vicious circle of young people not having experience and not being given the chance to develop it by covering events. The AIPS Young Reporters programmes look to change that by not just insisting that young people are the main targets and consumers of news, but also by training them to be the ones to produce it.”

Quality is key Also deliberating on the issue were FIBA’s Digital Projects Manager Motasem El Bawab, Jerome Martin, global head of sports marketing at Agence France Presse, and Nikki Symmons, Digital Manager of the International Hockey Federation

The gripping question on the mind of international sports federation is what form of coverage will be demanded by the fans in future, Symmons insisted, while her counterpart at FIBA, Motasem El Bawab explained that shifting attention spans by the millennial generation means that innovative ways of providing quality and entertainment was key.

Olympic change In his address on “The Future of Media at Sports Events in a Digital World”, Anthony Edgar, media operation chief of the International Olympic Committee, elaborated on the fast changing world where the scenario had altered dramatically.

“More people are now watching and reading the Olympic coverage on a digital or mobile platform,” said Edgar, whose citation of statistics to underscore the point had the packed conference room nodding in acknowledgement of the transformation or shaking their heads in disbelief at the pace of change.

Staying connected Edgar elaborated that not one venue was cabled for internet at the Torino’s 2006 Winter Olympics. Two years later, during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, only the main Olympic Stadium was cabled for internet. There was no such facility at the other venues.

“The last decade has had the most dramatic shift in the media industry,” said Edgar.

Free Wi-Fi was introduced at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. “This was only four years ago. The one most significant thing for me is the drastic change in one Olympic cycle,” said Edgar.

Digital coverage “Digital coverage of the Games has grown dramatically. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, any member of the Press could file live from wherever they were,” he said.

Resources for procuring leased cable lines were no longer a handicap for journalists or photographers from small news organisations. In this context, they were now at par with the major multinational agencies.

“What is happening in the digital world has taken the whole world, not just the sports media industry, by surprise,” said Edgar. “Some newspaper are doing well and some are not doing so well, while some others disappearing.”

Focus on photography Elaborating on the growing significance and demand for visual images, Edgar said that 50 per cent of the accredited media at this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang were photographers. The representation of photographers had grown from the previous share of 25 or 30 per cent.

“It will be interesting to see how this trend plays out at the Summer Olympics at Tokyo in two years,” said Edgar, adding that a massive share of traffic for Olympic websites was coming from digital and mobile platforms.

There was also a concern at the Media Accord at the possibility of dwindling number of media at the Olympics in future due to the shrinking sports coverage budgets of news organisations, who themselves have to cope with shrinking revenues.

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