Micky Lawler currently serves as President of the WTA where she has been instrumental in shaping and contributing to the league’s strategy for growth with the next generation of fans. In this week’s Agents of Change soundbite, Lawler shares the importance of meeting fans where they already are, how the WTA is adapting to create a more engaging viewing experience, and the role kids play in shaping strategy for sports media.
Read or listen below to learn more about how rights holders like the WTA are adapting to reach the connected fan.
On pushing the envelope to create the best viewing experience for fans
Today, it is a completely different ball game, and we’ve been pushing the envelope to the spaces that make our traditional stakeholders very uncomfortable. But they are no-brainer decisions. For example, in the changeover in tennis you have a totally dead moment so we introduced on-court coaching and that brings a moment of reality TV to the ultimate reality show in the world which is sports. It’s been incredibly valuable and transformational—just such a little thing because the fan is looking at the [player] sitting there drinking water.
We have to [adapt], we have to change, and we have to understand that today’s teenager has the attention span of a goldfish. This has been scientifically proven—a goldfish. We need to move beyond and go in a future-proof direction.
Let technology verify insights that you may already (instinctively) know
What we instinctively knew about the fan, technology has helped us verify. That’s a lot of what technology is about. Very simply stated, the older fan still views and consumes on a television set and the younger fan is more mobile. What that teaches you is that you have to inhabit the space of every fan across all generations.
The big change that happened over the last couple of years is that television bundling packages were hanging on really because of live sports, and fans couldn’t consume the broadcast product in any other way as well as you could on a television set. But that’s changed because streaming is now just as good and makes [sports] possible to be consumed on every platform.
Pay attention to kids…they’ll show you where your content needs to live
It’s absolutely key to involve your kids and the younger generation in designing your vision towards the horizon and beyond. I watched my son watch Jordan Spieth win The Masters, and he was watching on a 4K television, he had an Excel spreadsheet on his laptop with his bets that he placed, then he had an iPad and an iPhone for social media. And I thought to myself, as a leader in this space, I need to be everywhere and make sure that we respond to all of these different demands so that the sport can be consumed across generations, across genders, across countries. That’s been a fascinating learning experience.