“Our model is every game is someone’s first game so you want to set the bar really high for the first game of the season but then you want to do this at the next game”: JULIE UHRMAN - SportNXT 2024

“Anything can be turned around if it is giving an opportunity. Create opportunity by generating interest from the fan base.”: SHAUN HARVEY - SportNXT 2024

“The Women’s World Cup and the CommBank Matildas have showed us that if we invest in women’s sport, we will get the rewards.”: JAMES JOHNSON - SportNXT 2024


“Time ultimately allows great brands to develop, it doesn’t happen over night…”: JAY MONAHAN - SportNXT 2023



Day 1 Welcome

As the delegates gather at Centrepiece, Hamish McLachlan, Master of Ceremonies, welcomes attendees from across the sporting world. He states “sport makes you feel incredible things.”

Delegates are welcomed to country by Aunty Joy Murphy, paying respects to the Wurundjeri People, whose land this summit takes place on.

Eddie McGuire AM, Chair of SportNXT, gives his welcome to the 1000 delegates from 20 countries beginning his address by posing the question “How can we as the business of sport, turn sport into something significant?” claiming sport is about “emotions and connections.”

He welcomes SportNXT’s Government Partner, Victorian State Government, to the “beating heart of this world class international city” and Steve Dimopoulos – Minister for Tourism, Sport & Major Events, Minister for Environment, Minister for Outdoor Recreation to the stage.

Steve Dimopoulos goes on to claim the four reasons why Melbourne is the sporting capital of the country.

  1. Workforce and industry – Melbourne has world class hotels and restaurants boasting the best experience for holding major sporting events.
  2. Infrastructure – MCG, Marvel, MOPT, AAMI Park, Cardinnia Park – Melbourne has well connected stadia (public transport options and can walk to restaurant precincts before or after a sporting event. A lot of other cities don’t have this… as stadiums are often so far out of the CBD.
  3. Victorians show up – Victorians love sporting and cultural content – 1.1m people attended the AO. Taylor Swift also began her Australian tour in Melbourne because if you can make it in Melbourne, you can make it anywhere 
  4. Hungry for and to see what is next including cutting edge of sport with social media, technology etc. 

The State Of Sport

MODERATOR: TRACEY HOLMES – Host & Executive Producer, The Sports Ambassador

KRISHNA BHAGAVATHULA – Chief Technology Officer, NBA

KIEREN PERKINS OAM – CEO, Australian Sports Commission

RAELENE CASTLE ONZM – Group CEO, Sport New Zealand


Discuss the major challenges in sport for the year ahead including but not limited to; AI and what that means for sport, gambling, economical and environmental factors, the rise of the Middle East, grassroots clubs right up to the elite, US sporting codes are typically geared towards entertainment, not to mention the national captain of a revered sporting team being charged in a court of law.

Raelene Castle begins by stating “sport is a disrupted space.”

Kieran Perkins OAM speaks to the challenge of understanding and recognising that we rely on athletic talents to create moments “we have teenagers turning away from being participants, we need to understand how we can continue to engage them not just as fans but as participants.”

Krishna Bhagavathula on AI “technology is an enabler of change, we have to embrace technology.”

Krishna Bhagavathula says “99% of NBA fans are never going to experience a game in the arena. This is where the opportunity for tech lies. We can make the sport available to fans for their convenience.”

James Sutherland speaks on the rise of the Middle East and golf. “Major disruption”. “Somewhat uncomfortable to not see the best players on the same stage”. “The further east you go, the more modern the views are – in Australia, the public just wants to embrace great talent.”

Raelene Castle ONZM on discussing the funding in sports “Sports that aren’t in that category need to think differently on how they provide an enjoyable experience to their participants and fans.”

Tracey Holmes addresses the panel and ask for their opinions on whether sport should be a leader, and how to manage risks with sponsors, venues and stakeholders, when and if athletes may want to take a position on world issues.

James Sutherland states “it’s important to encourage athletes to speak for themselves.”

Kieran Perkins OAM:  “Stopping athletes from having a view is not something that I support. In the industry, we need to get better at acknowledging and understanding the unique reach that athletes have and hold in the market. Sam Kerr’s ability to engage and influence the market far outweighs what anybody else can do including politicians.”

Tracey Holmes asks the panel about the importance of telling the background stories. 

Raelene Castle ONZM “Drive to survive set a standard for a lot of other sports to chase down and take the mystique away from their own sport. Much easier to engage with the younger crowd.”

Kieren Perkins OAM “Improve the operational maturity of sport” when talking about the amount of people working in sport… as “over 1 billion people working and operating sport on a daily basis” claiming you can’t employ this many people so volunteerism underpins this.”

Kieren Perkins OAM on the topic and discussion of an enhanced game: “The idea is laughable. We do not want to encourage people to take enhancing drugs because of their impacts on them and their families.”

KEYNOTE – Casey Wasserman (Chairperson, LA28 Olympic & Paralympic Games; Chairperson & CEO, Waaserman)

Casey speaks with Eddie McGuire claiming “we can’t be a minute late and a dollar short, we are feeling the intensity, it’s about as real as it gets.”

“We cannot be more beautiful than Paris. But when it comes to defining culture, what the world is interested in, that does come from LA now more than ever.”

The US has Private Enterprise owned infrastructure rather than state owned. They have to keep on investing in order to keep up and provide top grade infrastructure. 

Casey on not having some of the operational challenges that Paris has: “It allows us to think differently, we do own the copyright on being able to execute the innovative ideas from the games.

“When you’re competing with so many other things that people are spending their dollars on, you have to make the whole experience world class. You can’t ignore the experience until you’re on the track or field. It’s from the second they get into their cars to the minute they get home. Overall, competition has ramped up so the investment has ramped up to manage competition. LA will sell double as many tickets as Paris with 15 millions compared to 7 millions,  as we have the facilities to support that.”

“LA’s entire industry is built on hospitality and the Olympics provides the largest spotlight on earth. This will be the ultimate representation for LA, it is the ultimate opportunity for LA to be at its best.”

Eddie McGuire AM: “The MCG has bypassed the Sydney Opera House as the most visited tourist destination in the country, following the India vs Pakistan Cricket World Cup Final” (where 98,000 fans attended).

Casey: “Sports is a massive economic driver and live entertainment is a really meaningful way to diverse economic income, with sport being top of the list.”

Casey on the combination, collision between music and sports; “across the board, the interest and energy around attending live events continue to accelerate, we are no longer in a post-covid bounce. The only way for artists to stay relevant and connected is to tour.”

I See You (Diversity)

MODERATOR: TRACEY HOLMES – Host & Executive Producer, The Sports Ambassador

ANGELA TANOESOEDIBJO – Vice Minister, Tourism & Creative Economy, Indonesian Government

DAME VALERIE ADAMS DNZM – Chair World Athletics Athletes’ Commission; Former Olympian

AZMEENA HUSSAIN OAM – Non-Executive Director, Victorian Institute of Sport; Principle, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

TANYA HOSCH – EGM Inclusion & Social Policy, AFL

We deep dive into the need, development, nurturing and exposure of role models in support of sport’s commitment to diversity, on and off the pitch.

Tal Karp: “After years of being the token girl on the men’s team, I finally achieved my life’s ambition and suddenly I was the role model. However in 2003, there was a lack of coverage and media attention for the World Cup.”

Tracey Holmes introduces the panel by posing the question “What is the one thing we never talk about but should?” 

Dame Valerie Adams DNZM “nobody talks about the backlash and expectations of being a role model.” 

Azmeena Hussain OAM states: “We always look at diversity from a nice-to-have perspective but the reality is that diversity should sit in core business. We need to understand what diversity means from building a brand and building a fan base.”

Tanya Hosch: “People often say that sport and politics should never meet, however status, power, and class are very present in the construct of sport, and I feel strongly about addressing issues of class as part of the diverse mix we’re looking for, particularly in decision-making roles.” 

Tracey asks the panel about their thoughts on being prepared for being a role model.

Dame Valerie Adams DNZM “Media wants the story. I wish I had more support to be able to guide me, particularly with media.”

“Not everyone is made to be a role model but unfortunately you are pushed to be that. You have to take that responsibility in understanding our impact.”

Tracey asks the panel who their role models were.

Tanya Hosch – Patrick Dodson, Azmeena – Cathy Freeman and John Kirman, Angela Tanoesoedibjo – Pioneers in the law area, Dame Valerie Adams DNZM – “Mum – importance of sacrificing for her family.”

Media’s Ever-Shifting Landscape

MODERATOR: STEPHANIE BELTRAME – EGM Broadcasting & Commercial, Cricket Australia

ANDREW RYAN – Managing Director, FIBA Media

REBECCA MCCLOY – Executive Director- Commercial, Sport, Foxtel Group

HAMISH TURNER – Director 9Now & Programming, Nine

Stephanie Beltrame introduces the panel by posing “what is the state of the market? What are the trends?”

Rebecca McCloy on the ever-shifting landscape and her experience: “There has been a change of focus from subscription cost and profitability to who’s going to be standing long term. Are we the right partner to invest in your growth strategy? The focus on partnership has been more important now than ever before.” 

Hamish Turner: “If you are chopping and changing your media strategy every few years, you won’t have consistency and it won’t be successful.”

Rebecca McCloy free-to-air TV compared to streaming: “66% of Australians are frustrated with the number of streaming services that they have to choose. It was important to disrupt the environment to solve the customer problem. It’s about balance and having that holistic system.”

Hamish Turner on tech giants circling sports: “Amazon target sports where they can ‘activate’ that user through that sport.”

Hamish Turner: “Digital Automation growth is unimaginable in 2032.” 

Sports in Australia continue to remain free and continue to remain relevant. 

Rebecca McCloy: “I absolutely believe that Australians deserve to watch sports for free. The nuance is whether or not it is a cultural event. When two thirds of the customer base is through streaming you need to consider that.”

Hamish Turner: “The power of free-to-air has always been available. Free-to-air is available to all Australians, it’s accessible.” 

Andrew Ryan: “There is not complete freedom on who you can partner with and who can deliver your content through” claiming subscriptions for streaming like Netflix could and should be a lot more than they are.

One word to describe the ever-changing media landscape – aggregation.

Breakout Room 1

Keynote – Partnership Growth Mindset

Partnerships and revenue go hand-in-hand, now more than ever. Catherine Carlson shares her insights for the future of collaborative growth, developed across a career that started with rugby league and spans partnership and revenue leadership positions at the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia Eagles, Brooklyn Nets, New York Liberty, and the Barclays Center.

Catherine from BSE Global begins her talk with the evolution of roles within the sports industry and how far Melbourne as a city has come with reference to sporting and cultural events. 

Moves on to talk to why a partnership growth mindset is important and what factors are within this partnership structure. 

Catherine asserts that companies must create a partnership structure that allows for growth with the ability to expand their core product with reference to the following facets:

  • Partnership development/sales
  • Partnership marketing 
  • Sales operationss and partnership insights 
  • Revenue strategy
  • Partner solutions
  • International and Chinese business strategy (dedicated to grows market in south-east region)

Tapping into new sponsorship dollars – leaning into the diversity of your fans by making them feel welcome and appreciated, which can then create an opportunity for monetisation.

Catherine asks the question “Why is a partnership growth mindset important?” moving on to claim that “similar to Melbourne, the New York landscape is extremely competitive. The largest media market in the US is NYC.”

So to stay competitive you have to grow your global footprint (16% of Brooklyn Nets fanbase are international) by targeting international brands as these brands make up biggest revenue.

Case Studies – Finding Direction

Moderator: Rowena Samarasinhe, MD GenSport; Partner, LEVEL

Glenn Lovett, CEO & Global MD, DSA

Jen Watt, CEO North Melbourne FC

Ben Slack, CCO World Rugby

Rowena wastes no time by asking the hard hitting questions about world rugby. She directs the question at Ben asking “When will we accept that rugby has a problem?”

Ben answers by stating “we are not happy with the rate of fan growth. From a world rugby lens – we have had no or very limited relationship with fans.

We have outsourced our properties and therefore we lost control. We have outsourced a major asset – the Rugby World Cup. But this has not resulted in growth. They are not looking for new fans or growing fan bases…so now we have flipped that model so that world rugby now has more control over the fan experiences. We have now built businesses that will help to deal with player governance and growing the fanbase.”

However, 1 in 5 fans that attends women’s rugby matches are new fans.

Jen Watt states “Uncertainty is never gone in sport, what you need is hope. When you are not performing well it’s hard to not want to sell your assets at rock bottom prices. When you are winning you’re not really focussing on building. You really have to have belief in your organisation and have a clear strategy. We need a clear brand and clear messaging. The pressure builds especially when you are not performing.”

Glenn Lovett on fan data and partnerships:

“At the end of the day it’s about finding and targeting audiences and fans. I understand how data can help you understand the fans.

We as an industry here are competing with expansion leagues from the US.

We have bought a business called Merkle. That can fuse sports and fan data so that we can track everything all the way through to spending. We can now track this through one-to-one. Now we can add a sales piece to sponsorship.

We have done this in the US and have tracked some large brands. It is quite scary because some people don’t want to know how many products a property can sell. But we now have the power to use data to track sponsorships right through the funnel.

There will always be deals done without dollars in mind. Sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture.

We need to use data to help brands and rights holders know how much the value of the partnership is worth so we can look for and fill the gaps.

Sometimes we look at the women’s game through the lens of the men’s game. But we should not do that… we need to create something that is of value to the women’s game.

The data is showing that we have a much larger depth and breadth of things people are interested in so it is getting very competitive.”

Debate Panel – Commercial Quandaries


  • MATT SCRIVEN – CEO, Basketball Australia
  • MARNE FECHNER – CEO, AusCycling
  • DAVID PRYLES – CEO, Hockey Australia

Codes not supported by a highly visible commercial season face an ongoing challenge to compete and grow in an increasingly noisy attention economy. A panel of the sector’s leaders discuss and debate their experiences and the direction it is giving them toward sustainable futures.

Breakout Room 2

Keynote – Sportstech: Inside Out 

Moderator: Scott Dinsdale (CEO’ Power’d Digital)

Speaker: Edson Crevecoeur: SVP, Strategy & Data, Miami Heat; COO, 601 Analytics 

Scott introduces Edson and highlights the importance of the selling side of technology. Miami Heat as an organisation: “Most fascinating organisation I’ve worked for” Edson claims, with a heavy focus on the people.

601 Analytics emerged from The Heat and focused on the supply side. What was the background? The Heat’s marketing team is considered as one of the leading teams and other teams came to the Heat to learn their marketing strategy. That marketing team created ‘Culture’ and showed the Heat’s willingness to invest. 

If you can build something and make it work well, then the heat are willing to invest. Hence 601 Analytics. 

Undertook a test to see if they could make it happen. Took place at a president of sports teams and other presidents immediately wanted the 601 tech that was presented. 

All Capital came from internal and to this day still haven’t accepted an external investment. Highlights how successful the tech has been. 

How do you keep the relationships between internal and other teams within the league seperate?:

Teams are happy to hear about updates from 601 Analytics and The Heat are happy to share. The league has a shared revenue so it benefits all for everyone to do well. It allows the league to collectively understand what the challenges are too. 

Challenges of growing 601:

After closing a deal with the Bucks, they were able to develop a business plan based on the limitations in that scenario. From that, they were able to improve the tech for other teams, even outside of the league. 

A big question around if 601 Analytics would survive Covid 19 as it was so new. Luckily, the Miami Heat continued investment to make sure it survived due to how impressive the tech was. 

How different is the culture to other internal teams? 

Preserves a team and set of resources that exclusively supports the Miami heat whilst the portfolio increase in size. With the Miami Heat, it a great opportunity to directly engage with the team and stadiums 

Things that may derail growth:

Need leadership that are willing to invest outside of their core strategies 

Next steps for 601:

Looking for specific clients that are wanting to be innovative themselves. 

Important to not let the quality of service slip as it keeps growing. 

The companies contiuned support and consulting is what makes the company stand out from competitors and retain and gain clients. 

How to make it a success. Four things to consider:

  1. Do you have the runway to make it a MVP product. What are the holes that you need to plug? The gap between solution to product needs to be filled. 
  2. Is there truly a market need? Does the industry need it and are they willing to throw money at it? 
  3. Do you have a clear Business model on how to generate growth? 
  4. Perhaps most importantly, does your leadership believe in the product and are they willing to continually invest?

Case Studies – Demystifying AI

Moderator: Scott Dinsdale (CEO’ Power’d Digital)

Dr Stuart Morgan – Lead MI, AI and Data Innovation

Dr Jeremy Nguyen – Sr Researcher and Lecturer, Swinburne Business School

Prof. Matt Kuperholz – Director, Champion Data Labs 

Dr Jeremy Nguyen: Companies are growing their audience more in 3 months compared to previous growth over 12 months due to AI. Most important factor is understanding their audience and how to communicate with them through AI. The easier the process, the stronger the relationship. 

People who played around with AI at its earliest point, are good at collaborating and understand their audience, see the most success with AI. 

Prof. Matt Kuperholz:

Can’t lose sight that AI is just a very very smart tool. Supply Chains and getting the product right is still more crucial then conquering AI for companies. 

AI is starting to become very good at undergoing the maturity curve of data. Answering questions like ‘why has that happened’ and ‘what will happen?’

Champion Data flip AI around and focus on  which stakeholders would benefit the most from the tech. 

Highlights the work that is done with horse racing, compiling multiple data points to then give an idea of the horses strengths and weakness. 

Can use AI to unblock secrets, but the key highlight and takeaway on AI is that it should solve and produce business value, not the the other way round. 

Dr Stuart Morgan: 

The key use of AI in sport is actionable and unique intelligence. Aiming to get information that others can’t get, such as highlighting a weakness in your opposition that they haven’t been able to highlight.

Time is the main focus when using AI and something they are heavily focusing on. The Holy Grail is between Coach, Athelete and data and making that circle work as quickly as possible before the next big game or event. 

“The big question for us is where are the opportunities to exploit new tools and analytics in AI” – Will be able to explore these opportunities at the upcoming Olympics. 

Sports such as track cycling are benefiting heavily from AI analytics. Other sports may not necessarily be ready for the full use of AI and are still heavily reliant on coaches’ decisions. In those sports, it’s very easy to lose the trust of a coach with AI.

Debate Panel – Tech Checkin’

Moderator: Scott Dinsdale (CEO’ Power’d Digital)

Speakers: Jenny Simpson – CEO, Major Events Growth Alliance 

Ken Martin – Managing Director Global Sales (Sports, Media & Entertainmemt), Cisco

Ned Coten – CEO, EngageRM

Jenny Simpson: “Women in tech and sport, is it female friendly? That  is a question mark. You need to have a compelling value proposition and the jury is still out”

Ken Martin highlights a very equal balance of senior roles between female and male at Cisco. 7/15 are female. By adding females to the leadership team brings a completely different view to strategy. 

Ned Coten: One challenge is having men speaking about how to solve the problem. Need that Female voice to really understand as a males problem can be very different to a females problem within the work space. 

Success in sport:

Ned Coten: Successful implementation comes down to the thinking before hand. Tech is just an enabler. It’s the thinking and strategy as to why you are doing this is the most important. 

Jenny Simpson: It will get to  the point where you need to get youth in front of a screen in order to make them follow and smart to play a sport, highlighting the importance of tech being ever present. 

Ken Martin: Big question now of “If we invest in technology, how will it benefit our business?” 

Key requirements for tech in sport for future leaders:

Ken Martin: Needs to be more driving strategy of what is good for our business today or what is good for our business tomorrow. 

“Understand the business and technology, how it will benefit you and have a road map in front of you”

Ned Coten again highlights how the business works and what strategy is best. Passion is the key driver and decisions are made with your heart and not our heads. That’s where tech and AI can step in.

Jenny Simpson: The most important requirement is understanding how to use tech to connect with audience. What do organisations need to start thinking about in order to start moving more quickly in sport?:

Ned Coten: Really understanding fan and ticket data. How can I use it to reduce risk and generate revenue. Trying to do to many things at once needs to be reduced and highlight  the certain outcome you want from the technology. 

Jenny Simpson: “Ability to cut through the noise and stand your ground”

Need to stay true to your vision on what you want the tech to do. 

Ken Martin: How do you leverage tech to create a more personalised experience for customers? Need to know ‘who is in my venue’. 

What is the next wave?

Ken Martin: Has to be Frictionless and focus on ease of use. If you make it easy for people to consume, the more they will consume. Leads to generating more revenue. 

Ned Coten: Look outside sport and entertainment. People now compare all aspects of life against each other so find the tech that is performing well in other industries.

Breakout Room 3

Keynote – Social’s Next Frontier

A/PROF KIM TOFFOLETTI – Associate Professor, Deakin University

DR. KASEY SYMONS – Lecturer, Deakin University

Deakin’s Kim Toffoletti and Kasey Symons discuss their perspectives on the key trends in today’s fragmenting social media landscape and then deep dive into the state of social media and women in sport.

Swifties and Sportsball, discussion on the fans on the side lines, fans that are doing things differently. Sharing insights on where we see opportunities for sports to engage with their fanbase. 

Associate Professor Kim Toffoletti on this idea of safeguarding: “These online spaces are not necessarily safe or inclusive for everyone. Particularly for women and non-binary people. If you’re trying to reach these fans, the typical platforms might not be hitting the mark.”

“For example, with the official account for the sports team, women are invested and will be using these official channels to voice their concerns but then they are trolled by other fans who will diminish their concerns. The official account may respond in a non-authentic. Women will feel like they are being shut down and not treated seriously, the things that matter to them are not being taken seriously. Those fans will look to stop following and engaging with these accounts because they are not safe for them.”

Dr. Kasey Symons: “My research has shown that women will create their own pages and content to engage in sports and step away from the official accounts.”

Associate Professor Kim Toffoletti: “More needs to be done to create safe space for women to keep them in the fanbase. We need to be leading into discomfort and being able to respond meaningfully to that discomfort.”

“We need more support in the staffing and workforce who are managing these accounts so they are prepared to respond to these types of interactions. We need to better understand the relations of power.”

Dr. Kasey Symons: “When we think about traditional fans, we think about loyalty. We need to understand that these other fans position themselves as advocates for women in sports, social justice. We need to broaden our thinking of who these fans are, what they want, and challenge this concept of the correct way to be a fan.”

Dr. Kasey Symons on Taylor Swift in sports and the impact she has had: “Taylor has a role where she can choose to be visible or not. She has chosen and offered herself as this hyper visible fan. She is showing another way to do fandom. As she has so much power she was able to challenge people who told her she was doing the wrong thing as a fan.”

Associate Professor Kim Toffoletti talking about different ways that fans can engage: “Rethinking that concept of fandom and what it is. We can be looking in these marginalised spaces to gather a new understanding outside of traditional customer journeys where people here are doing fandom differently.”

Dr. Kasey Symons: “Fans exist outside of your official channels. Seeking broader inclusion is important and can lead to increased engagement.”

“Developing strategies to communicate and engage authentically with fans is really important to showcase your value and alignment to them.”

Case Studies In Social And Nil

Like all, but more so than most, social success emanates from doing. Campaign by campaign, reaction by reaction, season by season, day by day, minute by minute, second by second. Leading practitioners pull out the tricks to staying in the game.


NADINE RABAH – EGM Communications, Collingwood Football Club

PETER FILOPOULOS – Head of Marketing, Communications & Corporate Affairs, Football Australia

SPENCER RETTALACK – EGM Commercial, Customer & Digital, Netball Australia

Sean Callaman introduces the panel and talks to the key point of discussion including celebrating the wins. 

Nadine Rabah: “Collingwood has always been a club that built a strong brand and has always been accessible. Relationships and trust with key partners is the most important aspect because it allows us to take that brand even further. We’ve continued to have access points whether that is media, social media, digital, or broadcast.”

Spencer Rettalack: “Over 1 million play netball over the country. The change in 2017 created a disconnect between the athletes and the grassroots. We needed to ensure the grassroots could see themselves in the Super Netball and the Diamonds. We wanted people to see that we have been here for 100 years and showcasing the strength and athleticism in the sports. Our brand campaign ‘We start here’ is about presenting the sport and connecting the grassroots.”

Peter Filiopoulos on the campaign for the Matildas ‘till it’s done’: “It’s an evolving story. It started many years ago when we had a bold ambition and strategy to build women’s football. The vision was to have a world where everyone is inspired to live and love football. The Matildas wanted to show progress, and communicate to dream big, play hard.”

“As we continued to produce more content, we wanted to come up with a World Cup campaign. We wanted something to be viral that would allow us to leverage sponsors and engagement from fans.”

Nadine Rabah on the Collingwood video: “The Mother’s Day fixture can be challenging because everyone is focused on Mother’s Day so the games are not as attended. We thought ‘let’s embrace it’ and make the best of it. Our brand is focused on fun, family and footy so it made sense to draw on that. The video went viral because it was authentic and relatable. It wasn’t about the win or loss, it was about what is relatable to people who love football and to people who don’t.”

Spencer Rettalack on working with media partners to amplify campaigns: “It’s essential. We have mutual goals of wanting to amplify the sport. We work closely with our partners to design production to engage with new and existing audiences. We lead into our partnerships to cut up content and deliver it through exclusive PR opportunities.”

Peter Filiopoulos on investing into the Matildas: “Four years ago, the Matildas and the Socceroos brands were at different levels so it was essential to over invest in the Matildas brand to bring it up to the same level. We did this through investing in different types of content and channels including documentary, social media, and digital.”

Nadine Rabah on the Collingwood documentary: “It was important to create storylines, being able to capture their stories and the broader club’s story.”

Spencer Rettalack on understanding the different platforms and being guided by the people using the platforms: “We’re blessed with a talented creative team. We go into any new platforms or channels with a considered approach to create a strategy and vision that allows the team to dictate the how.”

Debate Panel – Social Issues

Is social getting more attention than result? Should sport be held to higher standards in its socials than other enterprises? Expert practitioners take to these and other prominent social media issues.


MITCHELL JONES – Managing Editor – Social Media, AFL

RANA HUSSAIN – Founder, Good. Human

EMMA RACE – CEO, Making The Call

Jacqueline Comer introduces the panel and poses the first question ‘is social media a massive opportunity or a necessary evil?’

Rana Hussain: “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for it.”

Mitchell Jones: “It’s the best way to build your CV without actually having a job.”

Emma Race: “It’s definitely an evil. However it’s been important to my career and to the industry.”

Mitchell Jones on metrics and analytics: “Audience analytics are so important. You can relay back to the higher ups in terms of KPIs and objectives, it teaches us about our audience, it’s second to none and it is almost live. We do need to trust them.”

“First objective is to grow audience, and secondly we want to diversify our audience based on demographics.” 

Emma Race: “I think the future is in depth. If we can quantify the depth of audiences and understand how we can commercialise it, it’s much more important than reach. Reach doesn’t quantity authentic connection.” 

Rana Hussain: “Depth of engagement is so important. We still have a commercialising system that is looking at ROI and reach and we are doing ourselves a disservice when we are only looking at those specific metrics rather than depth.”

Mitchell Jones on emerging markets versus established markets: “Social media is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to reach a large number of people. The way the channels are recommending content to audiences who don’t even follow your content is second to none.”

Emma Race: “Reach is completely beneficial and maybe it is better for certain organisations compared to others.” 

Rana Hussain on whether employers should be responsible for the way their employees are treated online when representing the organisation: “The government should be looking after all of us and we need faster legislation. Employers should be looking after their employees but I’m not sure that they can because we don’t have the appropriate legislation and laws to support that. The fact is that employers should be problem solving about that to support their employees.”

Mitchell Jones: “Employees for us are clubs and players. We are looking at this every single day. We’re helping them protect themselves from social media. We’re doing courses to help them learn all the tools and navigate the highs and lows of social media.”

Emma Race: “Definitely. Employers need to understand that they are part of the conversation to protect their employees.”

Rana Hussain: “It surprises me the lack of proactive conversations sporting boardrooms and executives have around what and how athletes should use their voices on social issues.”

Rana Hussain on who owns the problem: “We can’t do it in silos, we have to sit down at the table and communicate. It needs to be everyone’s problem in collaboration to move forward.Decision makers, the board and the c-suite, have the most power to cut through bureaucracy and shift conversations. Whoever has power to make the change is responsible.”

Emma Race: “Things change so quickly and you need to be able to pivot.”

Emma Race on influencing change within the organisation if you don’t have the power: “If it’s that important to the organisation, then make sure you have someone at the table that can talk to this.”

Jacqueline Comer ends the panel asking them ‘if you could change anything or influence anything in the social media world, what would it be?’

Mitchell Jones: “It’s not specific to the AFL, but social media is an always-on world, it would be good to create something that has a bit more life-balance for people who work in that space.”

Rana “Social media to not be used as THE effort around inclusion and belonging and social impact.”

Emerging Superpowers – Session 1 Qatar

From mega-event hosting football, golf, cricket and everything in between to ownership at all levels, the sports world is experiencing unprecedented change through ever-increasing investments and influence from markets such as the Middle East and India. Hear from leaders working within these emerging sport super powers on their strategies and approach, where they see opportunity, and the implications on and off the pitch. Tracey Holmes will lead an in-depth fireside conversation with FIFA World Cup 2022 CEO, Nasser Fahad Al-Khater, as they reflect on the strategy, outcomes and approach to the first FIFA World Cup hosted in the Middle East.

MODERATOR: TRACEY HOLMES – Host & Executive Producer, The Sports Ambassador

SPEAKER: Alexandra Chalata, Executive Director, Partnerships and Strategic Alignment, Qatar Foundation

Tracey Holmes begins the discussion with a story from her experience being a journalist during the 2022 World Cup. 

Alexandra Chalata: “It is a vision that Qatar has had, it’s been part of the culture and the ethos of building the country and the city making. Most people recognise Qatar from the 2022 World Cup but this has been going on for many years.”

Alexandra Chalata: “ Qatar had 12 years to build the journey from winning the bid to the event itself. At the beginning it was seen through the lens of the western media which talked to human rights, but over the course of that 12-year journey, Qatar corrected themselves and the journey led to a massive success.”

“The World Cup was a success from so many different perspective. 80% of waste was recycled which is the most sustainable World Cup to date, we had audio descriptive commentary as a world first, we had sensory rooms which allowed people to experience a World Cup like they never could before.”

“Half a billion people in the region are under 30, we leveraged that with The World Cup having the biggest volunteering tournament ever with 22,000 volunteers and a 94% retention rate.”

“1.2 million fans came in 1 month. Most of those fans had never come to the country or to the region before. It felt like that was a massive opportunity to really change the narrative about Qatar.” 

“It was a family friendly event with 3 matches a day, all accessible.”

Alexandra Chalata on the Qatar Foundation: “Legacy planning started when the bid was won. There were two folds – the first to support the vision to make this the best and most impactful World Cup and the second to use this tournament to further Qatar Foundation’s goals and objectives. Aim of Qatar Foundation is to fill key social gaps in the nation.”

“Volunteerism was created because of the World Cup, built on the country’s civic service and civic duty, and giving back – all aligned with one of the key pillars in the Islamic faith.”

Focus on five key sports for women in Qatar: fencing, track and field, tennis, basketball, volleyball. 

Generation Amazing – next generation of Qatar coming through with a current population of 275,000.

“Qatar loves hosting sporting events. It would be an absolute dream to host the Women’s World Cup, the first WNBA game and more. Focusing on women’s sport is something that is crucial. We want to bring those events but we also want to create models. We know that one of the challenges is that young girls will struggle to participate if they don’t see someone looking like them so we need to engage with role models.”

Alexandra Chalata: “Our leadership is so open to learning. We want to learn and need acceptance that we are on a journey. Something that is right in the west is not always right in the Middle East. Qatar is on a different time trajectory and the country needs to do what makes sense for them. Let us learn from you but maybe learn from us too.” 

Emerging Superpowers – Session 2 India

MODERATOR: SACHIN KUMAR – General Manager Product & Partnerships, News Sport Network

NIKHIL BARDIA – Head, RISE Worldwide Ltd.

UNMISH PARTHASARATHI – Board Chairman, The GoSports Foundation

Sachin Kumar opens the panel discussion: “India has a lot of compelling aspects but it’s not easy.”

Nikhil Bardia: “What excites me about India is that culturally, there are multiple regions, so many Indias within one. Diversity is exciting. Performance from Indian athletes on the global scale, hosted many events, and growth in innovation and infrastructure. Leads to growth of participation and the economy with systems to grow.”

Nikhil Bardia on commercialisation of IP in India “if it is exploited well, it’s going to be significant and it’s exciting.”

Unmish Parthasarathi: “We’ve seen a very conventional way that the sports have grown in India. The focus has gone beyond Cricket and beyond individual sports. There are no seasons in India and that impacts the broadcast.”

Unmish Parthasarathi: “There are 3 takeaways. The maturity of sport media markets differ. With more maturity, you end up with one dominant federation and broadcaster, there is an element of supply and demand. There are other players who focus on niche sports. Ad sales will be 60%, 30% will come from data and paid tv will be 10% – mid teens.”

Nikhil Bardia: “56% of consumers like viewing in original languages.” 

Unmish Parthasarathi: “Relevance gets reach, reach gets revenue. Define growth rather than revenue. If you have growth, revenues will come.” 

Nikhil Bardia: “What is exciting is the growth of football fandom in India. How can we make homegrown local sports international?” 

Women’s sport in India:

Nikhil Bardia on women’s sport in India: “India has started to acknowledge women’s sport and the women’s football team has a better chance of reaching a World Cup compared to the men’s team.”

Nikhil Bardia on India exports: “Cricket will lead the way from an export perspective.”

KEYNOTE – Julie Uhrman

Join the force behind LA’s Angel City Football Club, recently reported as the world’s most valuable women’s sports team, as she shares her journey in building the club alongside her co-founders, actor and activist Natalie Portman and VC Kara Nortman. Learn how the team’s sponsorship model that reallocates 10% of all sponsorship revenue back to the community has paid back in spades and sold out their home stadium of 22,000 over and over

Hamish McLachlan introduces Julie by asking her to take us back to 2019. 

Julie Uhrman: “Two big things were happening, one was the Me Too movement in Hollywood, and the second was the US National Team asking for equal pay and Natalie Portman was involved in both. Natalie brought her friends to a game and they all wore a t-shirt that said ‘Time’s Up Pay Up’. 

“The national women’s soccer league didn’t have a LA team. Why wasn’t there a women’s professional team, Natalie asked the question and decided to do something about it.” 

“I had no idea that there was a professional women’s soccer team, I had no idea that it was in its 8th year.”

“The initial challenge was that we were 3 female founders with no sport experience, already 2 men’s teams dominating the market in the city so the question was ‘is there even room for another team, is there demand?’”

“90% of all sports teams don’t make money.” 

We’re going to do something different and if we can make this women’s team profitable within the busiest sporting city, the busiest sporting landscape with 11 major teams, then we will do something different.”

“The club leads with mission and at its core has purpose and probability. It was all about story telling and engaging with fans meaningfully.” 

“We spent time building the brand, because it was about our purpose, we asked ourselves what is our aim and how do we want to have an impact in the community? 

“We started in 2020 being in the community. We didn’t kick a ball until 2022 but it was about building the connections and sharing our story with the community. We involved the community on the brand so they could really feel involved.” 

“We want to focus on impact and profit at the same time. Being able to implement the 10% model helped us refine our sponsors because it was about being value-aligned. Easy for partners to deal with each other through a close knit community developed via the club.”

Julie Uhrman on the most difficult part: “The soccer, who we want to run it, who we want to coach and the type of team we want.”

“Broadcast deal for NWSL went from 1.5 million a year to 60 million a year.”

Julie Uhrman on Sport in Australia: “Australia has an incredible sports culture where people are playing everything.”

Julie Uhrman on the key things. 

“There is a price point for everyone. We wanted to value the product. These are incredible athletes, we’re not going to discount this product. Our model is every game is someone’s first game so you want to set the bar really high for the first game of the season but then you want to do this at the next game. We need to elevate the experience game after game to make sure the fans are engaged.

Julie Uhrman on the key to success of the team: “It’s the brand and what the brand stands for, we live our values and we surround ourselves with others who do the same including our partners and sponsors.”  

Julie Uhrman on what went wrong: “When you lead with values, you want to bring everyone in and want to make everyone happy but the reality is you can’t.”

“World’s most valuable Women’s Franchise, we’re confident we will achieve profitability. 

To conclude the day, Hamish makes mention of the 93% average attendance rate at ACFC games stating it “never drops”.

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