FUJITSU Digital Marketing Forum 2016 was held at the ANA Intercontinental Hotel Tokyo in Roppongi, Tokyo on November 4, 2016. To respond to diversified customers' purchasing behaviors, this Forum introduced Fujitsu's technologies and solutions that further strengthen engagement between companies and customers. Here, we report on the presentation at the opening session entitled "Digital Marketing Changes J. League Marketing Strategies" by Daisuke Nakanishi, Managing Director of the Japan Professional Football League (J. League).
(Click here to see the FUJITSU Digital Marketing Forum 2016 Event Report)
Ensuring Football Continues to be an Industry that Spins Stories
"Professional football is a story industry," Mr. Nakanishi declared at the start of his presentation. "It is said that stories began to be told in ancient times to overcome the fear of the darkness of night. People listened to stories spun by elders in caves and resisted the darkness by communicating through such stories. In today's world filled with uncertainties, football can spin stories for people to conquer the kinds of darkness we face at present. In this sense, the football industry can be called a story industry that spins fascinating stories."
Mr. Nakanishi continued: "In the digital age, a major challenge for the sports business is to create an environment where fans and supporters can easily spin their own fascinating stories."
"Pivot Management" Changes How Business is Done Without Changing the Focus
Recently, against the backdrop of sluggish income growth in the past few years, J. League has been working to achieve "pivot management*," which changes how business is done while keeping the focus on creating fascinating stories. The turning point that led to pivot management's realization was a 10-year, 210 billion yen broadcasting rights contract with UK-based Perform Group signed in July 2016. Mr. Nakanishi explained: "It's not just the contract amount that had a large impact, but that concluding the contract meant five things for the sports business."
*: The term "pivot" refers to an axis of rotation; when used in a corporate management context, it indicates a "change in direction" or a "change in course."
The Five Meanings of the Overseas Broadcasting Rights Contract
Firstly, the deal with Perform Group is the first long-term investment made by a foreign company in the Japanese sports industry. J. League will need to explain how it will invest the capital to create fascinating stories.
Secondly, the J. League concluding a major contract with an Internet service operator in the paid broadcasting market is a world first for a major football league. It has been said that the media environment is shifting from television to the Internet, and J. League will begin Internet broadcasting of sports content, an initiative that leads the world. Data collected through the use of the service, such as when, who, and how much the content has been viewed, can be used to increase the number of fans.
Thirdly, the fact that J. League holds the copyrights to create and broadcast programs is another first in the market of sports organizations. Mr. Nakanishi explained: "J. League will engage in program development, which previously was entrusted to outside entities. It is now J. League's job to create attractive packages while sharing roles with external professionals."
Fourthly, high-performance Wi-Fi systems will be set up in all 18 J1 club stadiums in the next few years to improve the viewing experience and to create smart stadiums as part of smart city solutions.
This will enable people to view videos of games that are only watchable at the stadiums. Moreover, by promoting restaurants' convenience through cooperation with nearby shopping districts, regional revitalization can also be expected.
Lastly, the fifth meaning is that the options for league management have been expanded by securing a large investment source that will contribute to J. League's success.
Making Japan a Happier Country through Sport
Mr. Nakanishi continued: "In order to make the most of this business opportunity, it is important to create an open organization for sports entertainment that can withstand changes in the business environment. That means creating an organization that permits mistakes to be made and actively takes on challenges, encourages visualizing and sharing information, and capitalizes on design thinking that makes use of designers' sensibilities."
J. League is now approaching a tipping point as a sports business. At the end of his presentation, Mr. Nakanishi concluded as follows: "We would like to play the role of the elder who spins various professional football stories. I think your digital knowledge and skills will make it possible to create stories that can encourage more people. We want to make Japan a happier country through sport."