Ministry of Sport

Interview with Sport Australia Digital Advisory Chairman, Scott Dinsdale

Scott Dinsdale is the current chair of the digital advisory panel for Sport Australia and Managing Director at Future Next.

Spending the last 25 years in major media companies including being the head of global distribution and CCO for Sony music, Scott has also worked with a number of media startups in their technology and digital leadership divisions in California.

Scott spends a lot of his time now consulting with a select group of clients in the digital technology space across media and sport.

We had a chance to catch up with Scott and ask him a few questions.

Tell us about your work with Sport Australia (SA)?

There was a realisation about two years ago that digital was becoming a big thing in sport, broadly speaking from participation to high-performance and a sense within Sport Australia (SA) that they weren’t really on the middle foot, let alone the front foot when it came to technology.

So they began a program of work internally and felt that to guide that work, they would like to have an advisory panel, which subsequently I became the chair of.

So we spent over a year guiding a lot of services on research and analysis on what the issues were and what the recommendations would be in terms of outcomes and that resulted in the digital strategy for SA that was published in November last year.

What are your recommendations that you have discovered with your work

The recommendations basically fell into three very broad categories.

The first category was a bit of a ‘heal thy self’ commentary, which is if SA is looking to the sporting sector to become more digitally aware and more astute at not only thinking about but executing digital, then it needs to take a step back and look at itself and drive digital excellence within SA. So that is a program that has been happening internally for the last six months.

The second category surrounded the idea of what can SA do to redirect energy and resources to help sporting codes become better at digital.

And last but not least, the third category is as much about promoting sport in Australia as it is Australia’s position in sport globally. Which is to create a landscape in Australia that is conducive to local sports entrepreneurship.

How will this Impact on the greater sporting community?

In terms of category three, everyone points to Silicon Valley as their aspiration and I think whats equally interesting and even more applicable, is looking at whats happened in Israel over the last 15-20 years in general tech entrepreneurship. There are four components that tend to always make up a vibrant sector for innovation.

First and foremost you need to have people willing and interested in being entrepreneurs to have that core. And that core arguably sits around three other Major pieces.

  1. The underlying business ecosystem of venture capital or private capital availability where their interested in investing and seeing returns in certain sectors is important.
  2. The academic world, where innovation often comes out of, if you look at Australia they have a very vibrant community of universities looking at sports research, so you want to have a vibrant academic sector.
  3. Finally, you have an underlying government set of incentives and platforms to try and drive the energy of those first three constituents.

How can corporates get involved to be part of the process

I would say every corporation should look and find a sport that it can tie its self to, that it believes fits with its brand principles, directions and aspirations and help that code become more digitally aware, digitally savvy and digitally supporting. Sponsorship should be looked at not just names on Jerseys and endorsements but really focus on how can we help these sports move forward in their quest to become more digitally relevant to a marketplace that requires you to be digitally savvy to engage with young participants.

Who do you admire in the industry around digital and why?

It’s hard not to look at what some of the major U.S codes have done, which would be Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Football League (NFL) for different reasons.

The NFL was a real pioneer in creating its own voice digitally, which has resulted in them creating a $2.5-3 billion digital business. Between the deals they’re doing with Twitter and Facebook, along with their NFL Game Pass product, it’s amazing what they have done whilst keeping their presence and a major part of their profit in traditional media and broadcast deals.

MLB for a different reason, I think they have done a good job in telling their story, they have a good digital platform which was very innovative early on in streaming but what they did in addition to that was invest heavily in the actual building of an underlying platform for media which resulted in them creating MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) and then ultimately selling that product to Disney for $2.5 billion. By becoming a real infrastructure player they have been able to put the finances back into MLB.

Shaun Carney

Shaun Carney

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