How NBC Sports Attacks Social Media with Lyndsay Signor
Lyndsay Signor is the Vice President of Consumer Engagement at NBC Sports Group. She leads executing 360 marketing plans, including promotion, media execution, sales partnerships and integrations, digital and social activation, and cross-company collaboration, and also oversees the social strategy for all properties within NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. AKA she does it all.
On this episode, we dig into the nuts and bolts of Lyndsay's marketing strategy, what her day-to-day involves as the Vice President of a major company, and her thoughts on the ever-changing sports industry.
Here are the highlights:
[17:15] Do you think the large conglomerates, like Comcast and AT&T, coming together to battle the OTT’s is the right move over the next 3 to 5 years?
"These businesses aren't stupid. When things are valuable, especially in the television landscape, you're going to see the players who are in it for the long-haul stand out. The ones who are deciding not to change will fall off. We are very lucky to be owned by Comcast. They understand how to communicate with their users, they know how to keep people into their ecosystems, and they're about data and innovation. Having owners like that helps a television company, like us, face the facts."
Ep 20- How NBC Sports Attacks Social Media with Lyndsay Signor
[00:00:15.49] David: All right, guys, she is the vice-president of consumer engagement at NBC Sports Group. She is joining us here on the podcast, business of social, Lindsay Signor joins us. Thanks so much for the time.
[00:00:25.37] Lyndsay: Hey, thanks for having me.
[00:00:26.51] David: All right, so I always ask a random question to kick things off. I know on Twitter your bio says you're a nervous Pittsburgh sports fan. So I got to get your opinion. What side are you on, on this Le'Veon Bell madness?
[00:00:39.53] Lyndsay: Oh, my goodness. It's tough because as a fan you love loving on Bell. He's so fun to watch, he's really a unique running back. But also as a fan you're like, "This is not ideal." I think the biggest thing for me is right now the Steelers are not looking great anyway, I don't think it's because Le'Veon Bell's not on the field. I think it does make his case better that they are not looking great. But I also think Conner's a really good running back. I think a lot of teams would love to have someone like him.
What I go back and forth with is if Le'Veon Bell sits out the whole season, I don't know that he's going to get the money he's looking for from a team, having now played a full season. And I totally understand you don't want to play for a team and get hurt and then lose your chances. At the same time, I mean, he's in Miami having a great time, even if he comes back week 10 I just think the less he's on the field the less valuable he's going to be to a team. And at this point I don't know that many teams that have $15 million sitting around ...
[00:01:56.20] David: For running backs, yeah.
[00:01:57.10] Lyndsay: For a running back this year, so I mean, it's definitely from his perspective a gamble. I think the Steelers have put the offer on the table they're willing to spend, and now it's just hopefully the Steelers figure out they're running game, because it's not great.
[00:02:12.20] David: I was just surprised and I'm sure, I mean, you followed sports your whole career too, like I've never seen a locker room turn. I mean, usually they always say let a guy don't get involved in people's money type thing. And you have to understand kind of where he's coming from, but the whole offensive line is like, "F you, screw you." This is all just interesting.
[00:02:30.45] Lyndsay: Yeah, it's not a good look. I mean, you can look either way too, because I don't know that we fully understand what's going on behind the scenes either. I think contract negotiations are a thing that most players stay out of, but it's also not a great look if you come back and your offensive line is irritated with you. I think they are pretty important to a running back.
But, no, I mean, I think the Steelers, they've had a lot to say, the players have had a lot to say in the past couple weeks and not a lot of play on the field to back it up. So I think this week in Tampa is going to be ... They cannot be whatever it is, oh, two in one time. I mean, that's not a good look. So I think hopefully they get their act together a little bit, but doesn't even matter when they're good, like I think most Steelers fans, Pittsburgh fans in general never think that anything's going to go their way. And so even if everything was great and they were two and two and Le'Veon Bell's on the field, I think everybody would be worried about losing to Cleveland.
[00:03:33.30] David: Especially with all these successes that Philadelphia's had right up the road like the last leg, what five, six years across all sports. But what's your background there? Did you grow up out in Pittsburgh?
[00:03:43.52] Lyndsay: I was actually born in Central Pennsylvania. I married a guy from Pittsburgh. My family, both my parents went to Penn State. So I actually grew up in North Carolina so I've been a little bit disconnected from PA, but my entire family's there and my parents grew up there and stayed there for a long time. And then marrying a Pittsburgh native, it just sort of solidified.
[00:04:09.22] David: By the way, I mean, is Philip Rivers the best athlete that come out of NC State?
[00:04:15.21] Lyndsay: I think you could go between him ...
[00:04:17.43] David: He's a hall of famer, the numbers back it up.
[00:04:19.40] Lyndsay: Well, Coach Cowher was there, Russell Wilson also, also there ... I actually was in school when Philip Rivers was our quarterback, which is pretty cool. We actually had a really pretty good run there with him. But I think it's probably arguable between the two of them in terms of the football franchise anyway.
[00:04:41.13] David: You know that we're based obviously out here in San Diego, and when the Chargers moved to LA he refused to move to LA. So he drives this like huge Sprinter van every day to practice, and he has like six kids or something. So he's kind of living the life.
[00:04:56.00] Lyndsay: He had a few kids when we were in college, so I think he has a pretty big family.
[00:05:02.35] David: Big family. Well, cool. First of all congrats again on the promotion recently.
[00:05:08.00] Lyndsay: Oh, thank you.
[00:05:08.15] David: I know we talked about that a little bit offline, but you've moved from senior director now to vice-president of Consumer Engagement. So can you give the audience a little bit of a background of how your role has changed, and now kind of what you oversee day to day?
[00:05:20.26] Lyndsay: Yeah, so my role really dramatically changed about ... let's see, about a year and a half, two years ago. Jenny Storms who is our chief marketing officer came from PepsiCo. At that time I was senior director I think of social media marketing, so my role was completely overseeing the social team, the social strategy, all of that jazz.
When she came in she took about a year to sort of take a look at the group, and she reorganized us to really focus more on the properties that NBC Sports carries from a marketing perspective and less on function. So I was head of social, there was someone that was a head of digital marketing, consumer marketing, partnerships. And so what she essentially did was kind of consolidate a little bit, and have certain people oversee the sports themselves and all of the marketing that goes into it. So with that, for me came overseeing marketing for the NFL, NASCAR, the Olympics, and I think that was it. That sounds it's not a lot, but I think that was it at the time.
[00:06:35.11] David: It keeps you busy.
[00:06:36.05] Lyndsay: And then I was sort of this kind of unicorn in that I did actually keep my social role, so social media roles into a larger marketing and we're very kind of organized based on our folks focusing on single sport. But social is such an interesting world that keeping the team together, having some oversight over the social strategy, because it is a little bit separate from an overall marketing strategy. Kind of just giving social folks to each individual property didn't allow the teams to collaborate, and so I sort of have this two pronged jobs, that is social strategy across every sport and then marketing for those.
And then, let's see, a couple of months ago I got promoted to vice-president and what came with that was also the oversight of Notre Dame Football and Indianapolis 500, and all of IndyCar. So we've always had ... or for years have had IndyCar, but the Indy 500 was something that was not part of our broadcast package. So that coming over is huge for us, and essentially if you look at it, the way it's organized is I handle football and Motorsports. And then Olympics is the whole other thing. And then the social part of my role has evolved, the team's grown, but that's still under my purview too.
[00:07:59.57] David: That's awesome. So I guess I've always been amazed by you guys, and obviously full transparency, like we've worked together for quite some time. But for you to jump like from Sunday Night Football and then here comes Winter Olympics and then here comes the NASCAR season, like there probably isn't a perfect answer to this, but how do you attack all those and how do you decide which takes precedent when all those different balls are kind of up in the air?
[00:08:24.02] Lyndsay: Yeah, I mean, it's not easy, I will say February 2018 nearly killed us all. We were literally flying from Minneapolis to South Korea, because the Superbowl was four days from the opening ceremony. So it was a test for all of us, I mean, we are used to sports are always on, we are known for making big events bigger. So it's not like we ever have this lull. But that was different, I had done the opposite, I had done a Superbowl into a Summer Olympics which is still several months to plan.
I think the biggest thing that I try to keep in mind is just prioritizing. Every sport is different, every partner is different, and I think every sport kind of comes with its positives and negatives, and I think for the most part it's really focusing on kind of the launch of these events. And so launch of football season, launch of NASCAR season, and then what are the tent pulls within it? Because for the most part some of it is day-to-day, for football for example, kickoff this year was in Philadelphia which was incredible because NBC Universal is owned by Comcast. Comcast has an incredible footprint in Philly, we had the Today Show down there, we had CNBC and Jim Cramer who's a huge Eagles fan. We have a regional Sports Network. We have an O and O. So we were super fortunate, but with all of that came a lot more layers of things to do to market the game.
And so that really was the focal point, and getting that first Sunday night game off the ground, which was Bears-Packers which turned out to be kind of not a great game at halftime. But then we were like, "What just happened?" Aaron Rodgers is not normal and he has one leg now, but like still manages to win and it's annoying.
[00:10:19.51] David: And I think that was one of the best games I've seen. I mean, I've watched a lot of football, I mean, the lasts five years or so, that's probably one of the best games I've seen. That was pretty good.
[00:10:27.09] Lyndsay: It was incredible, and to be honest last football season, Sunday Night Football schedule was phenomenal on paper. And we just got hit with ...
[00:10:36.50] David: Injuries, yeah.
[00:10:38.00] Lyndsay: So many injuries. Sunday Night Football bus was sort of like the Madden curse, because by the end of the season. So the Sunday Night Football bus for folks who don't know is this bus that we have that's got all this cool stuff inside, that travels to each home market and we do a bunch of cool stuff. The side of the bus has about 10 to 12 players on it, and I would say 75% of those players by the end of the season were hurt.
[00:11:02.33] David: So I think at the end of the season you have like Brett Hundley versus John Skeleton, or someone.
[00:11:06.30] Lyndsay: Yeah, that matchup sounds a lot worse. And so I think that was something we struggle with last season, so for the first game of the season to be with kickoff to be compelling even with like a rain delay, and that Packers game to end the way it did, like we're starting out in a lot better of the position. But I think to answer your question; the most important thing is like it never slows down. The spring in particular on the sports I actually don't work as closely on. We've got the Kentucky Derby finishing going into a Stanley Cup Final Game, like that is nuts.
I think it's just really prioritizing and making sure not every game is created equal, not every event is created equal, but making sure that we can get the right resources onto the right stuff so that we amplify the games and the races and those kinds of things that really matter.
[00:11:58.51] David: That's awesome. I want to kind of back up and just get like ... I mean, you've been in the game. I mean, you're thinking about NBC, I looked it up, creep to your LinkedIn profile a little bit, but I think 12 years at NBC. So I mean, you're a wildly veteran.
[00:12:12.46] Lyndsay: I know.
[00:12:13.44] David: But it's pretty ... I mean, listen, you know more than anybody in this industry, in our industry, people pop around every two to three years usually. So I'm interested for you like for you to stay at one place for that long. That probably speaks a lot to the culture and your ability to be able to be appreciated, like talk a little bit about that of how it works internally.
[00:12:34.11] Lyndsay: Yeah, I can't actually believe that I've been in one place for 12 years, like I'm really not that old. It feels like I'm like about to retire, because like only your parents stay somewhere that long.
[00:12:46.28] David: But I feel like in sports years it's almost like dog years, like it's almost like you've been there for 36 years or something.
[00:12:50.56] Lyndsay: Yeah, and it does age you. But I do think for me I ... It is absolutely the culture, I think whenever I was sort of getting that itch of like I want to take the next step, I want to go on in the next thing an opportunity either presented itself or I sort of presented the opportunity at NBC Sports. About, let's see, four years or so into my time at NBC Sports, Comcast acquired NBC Universal. So before that GE owned it, and so that was like honestly a complete shift. It's as if we were at two different companies to be completely candid. We're base at 30 Rock. Before we have sports only on the weekends, so I was really working primarily on ...
I started at NBC a couple years after we acquired the rights to Sunday Night Football, and right before the Beijing Olympics in 2008. So I was like on cloud nine, working in sports, on these huge events, and like was into it and worked in the Communications Office, so I was doing like booking talent radio, and I was all over the map. It was sort of like a jack-of-all-trades thing. And then we got acquired in 2009, I actually worked with one other colleague on like starting the Sunday Night Football Facebook page and Twitter account. And like I feel like that happens later where it's like the kid at the company starts the social account and ...
[00:14:25.34] David: But 09 like you were way ahead of the game, because we started STN in 2013, and everybody had pages, but nobody posted any content. So some people didn't have Instagram or Twitter even launched by 2013, so you're ahead of the game.
[00:14:38.05] Lyndsay: Yeah, we were looking at it as like a comms tool, but there was buy-in through our executive producer. And so it was actually pretty cool, but I realized there was something more there, and to be honest like I didn't want to be a publicist, like that was not what I was feeling. And so four years into kind of doing my first real-real job, I was like, "All right, what am I going to do with this?" And so I think the timing of the Comcast merger and my old boss moved to become the president of Golf Channel, and so he was sort of like, "What do you want to do in this next iteration?" And I was like, "Well, I kind of want to like run the social team," which that was myself and some Twitter accounts, so I didn't really even know what that meant. But he was like, okay, cool.
So then that was sort of the second phase of my career was really starting and growing the social business, and I did that until about 2014, 2015 ... 2014 maybe. And then again kind of like I've grown this business, I've grown a team. I really like it but I don't want to be the social girl forever, and that was really ... That was happening for sure, like I was the go-to person at our company even at our larger NBCU Company. And I was like, "I just don't want to ... I don't want to forever run social for some company," or like move on somewhere else and do ...
[00:15:59.10] David: Lyndsay, how do I attach a video on Twitter for my camera roll? I'm trying to figure out like ...
[00:16:03.31] Lyndsay: Yeah, or like can't connect to this, I'm like, "That's IT. I don't ..." I literally ... we couldn't even get Skyped in properly, like that's how awful being on IT. But yeah, so then it was like right again, right around when I was starting to get a little itchy Jenny Storms came in as our CMO, kind of reorg us, and promoted me into a larger marketing role.
So I think if I take a step back, and like I've changed my job about three or four times, that could be with three or four companies. But there is something about working on the Olympics, Pyeongchang was my sixth Olympics. I've worked I think four Superbowls. Like, if you want to work in sports it's a pretty great place to work, and I've been able to sort of build what I see my career path do its thing. And so that really is a testament to the company and the culture, but also the stuff I get to work on. I mean, I think it would be hard for me to leave here and find something cooler to do. That's not to say I'll be here until I retire, but I think the actual work and the stuff I get to do is pretty cool.
[00:17:14.14] David: I want to get your thoughts on just our industry is changing from a linear and data standpoint, and you talked about Comcast a little bit, but we've talked a lot about on this program about AT&T and Time Warner and just all these large conglomerates kind of coming together really I think to battle the OTT's and the data of like a Netflix and Amazon. Do you think like as we go forward over the next three to five years, is that the right move to kind of have these larger companies conglomerate and be able to use the content with the data to go head-to-head with some of these successful OTT's?
[00:17:48.38] Lyndsay: I mean, look, I think these businesses are not stupid, and I think when things are valuable, especially like the television landscape is one that I think you're going to see the players that are in it for the long haul start to stand out, and the ones that are still in this world where nothing's changing around them are going to start to fall off. We're very lucky to be owned by Comcast, because Comcast, I mean, if you have the X1 platform, I mean, it's pretty baller, like they understand how to communicate with their users, they know how to keep people into their ecosystem, like they are all about data and innovation.
And I think having an owner like that helps us as a television company kind of face the facts, like Comcast is a cable company, it's a media company but they're also creating their own stuff, they're developing things that otherwise television networks were the only ones doing it before. So I think that's super beneficial for us. I think I don't know if I have an opinion either way, I think there's something odd when you've got the same three companies sort of owning everything. But at the same time ...
[00:19:05.58] David: I think four or five companies are going to own like almost every TV channel on your dial.
[00:19:10.30] Lyndsay: Yeah, and I think that's ... I mean, that can be problematic depending on who the owners are. But I think from like a television perspective I pay attention to sort of this movement and really like the products and stuff that folks are coming out with or acquiring, because I think it's important. Television ratings are definitely down. I'm not convinced yet that it's because of the product on television, I think consumption is not down, so I think we're just at a place where we have to realize like we know those 60 plus people are tuning into Primetime and that's phenomenal, but we also know that 18 to 24's are not, but they're consuming an awful lot of other places. And so it's on us as marketers to really take a look at that, and like the sky is not falling yet, that I think there's a lot of sort of a little bit crazy takes out there of like television is dead. It is not dead.
[00:20:08.43] David: No.
[00:20:09.14] Lyndsay: But we do have to figure out how to entice younger people to consume sports and figure out how to get sports in front of those people, because my daughter's three years old, I have YouTube TV, she may never have a cable subscription, absolutely.
[00:20:27.16] David: She's lost, yeah.
[00:20:28.30] Lyndsay: So it's like that doesn't mean my daughter doesn't watch the Steelers every Sunday with us, so it's like we do have to start think about how do we get our content in front of folks. And I think some of these conglomerates that are kind of happening, if you pay attention to what they're acquiring, you have a little bit of an idea of like, okay, like this is where they see this industry going and they're not even content creators. We should pay attention more there.
[00:20:53.07] David: I mean, I think Sunday Night Football's been the number one highest-rated program for over a decade or something, so to your point the content's there, I've always asked this question - what fascinates me about this industry is how do you ... You have this linear product that's been so amazing, and that's been the main source of revenue obviously for the overall company for so long, how do you play in the OTT space and get it to that 18 to 24 without disrupting the monster that is, like what the whole foundation is built on? So I mean, do you have any thoughts on how over the next five to ten years like how that could be a smooth process rather than a big drop-off and then we have to kind of throw everything in towards the wall?
[00:21:35.16] Lyndsay: Yeah, I mean, I think it depends too on ... at least from a sports perspective, like broadcast rights. I mean, these deals are done ten years at a time. So no one was thinking about OTT the last time the NFL deal was done. But you do see now the NFL is also giving digital rights to Amazon and things like that. Twitter at one point. So I think there's a point where for us where we have an OTT product called NBC Sports Gold, and we're sort of ... It all really has to kind of depend on the rights that we have and what we can do with those rights, and then negotiate for future rights with this in mind.
So NBC Sports Gold has cycling, it has rugby, it has track and field, and I think as we're negotiating new deals we absolutely are considering these folks, Premier League is in there too, like folks that really want every single piece of cycling, every single piece of Tour de France, like they should be able to get it because we're not airing everything. But I think with certain deals that we're doing it's not ... it wasn't on the table in the deal when we negotiated it, and so then we're thinking about how do we do this for the future.
And at the end of the day it's about having a really great product with really cool stuff and making money so we can continue to do more cool stuff. But I think for sure the leagues are thinking about it, a lot of the leagues actually have their own OTT products. We are the backend technology for F1, so we decided not to renew our F1 relationship in terms of television. They have their own OTT product that we actually developed for them. So there's kind of all these like behind-the-scenes cyclical things that are happening, but it's certainly something that we are all in with, with NBC Sports Gold, and then I think as these new deals come up we have to figure out where that model works for what sports.
[00:23:43.46] David: When it comes to social, what have you guys seen as you've dug in like your core demo and the audience say that you're going for? You mentioned 18 to 24 earlier, but what's the on the @NBCsports handles, what's the demo you usually see?
[00:23:57.34] Lyndsay: Yeah, so they're all a little bit different. The NBC Sports accounts are primarily like 70% male under the age of I think 25. The Olympics channels are actually more female, and that actually mirrors the on-air audience as well. It's one of our only sports that's more female. Surprisingly NASCAR is not that far off, it's almost 50/50.
[00:24:24.00] David: Really?
[00:24:24.21] Lyndsay: Which really surprised me, because you just do not think of women when you think of NASCAR. But like, especially like the things we can see on Facebook and Twitter are like it is ... I think it's like 55/45 or something like that, which is pretty cool because we do definitely tailor our content a little bit differently knowing that you have a young female audience compared to just that young super male audience that we have on most of our channels.
[00:24:54.56] David: How many accounts? And I kind of know the answer this question, I wonder if you know off the top of your head, how many accounts under the NBC Sports umbrella?
[00:25:04.38] Lyndsay: I mean, this is not taking it into account like writers, talent, all of that, I think it's around 40. If you go across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, our IP, our Google+ account, that was a good effort. But I think it's a little under 40, and that's not talent or writers. Some of our digital properties like Pro-Football Talk, that kind of thing.
[00:25:38.00] David: Yep, well, obviously I know you're amazing people like Andrew, Ryan, Jenna, Kylie, Dustin, the whole squad. But with that like how many people under the team to run all those 40 when you count in maybe vendors and you count in video editors and anybody that kind of helps support content output?
[00:25:57.42] Lyndsay: Yeah, so let's see, we have I would say all-in including creative; we're probably looking at around 30 people. Our core-core team is 10 people that are in Stanford, in the office. Many of those people you mentioned. The cool thing too about our reorg a few years ago ...
[00:26:20.21] David: Are they all dedicate to social, all 10.
[00:26:22.18] Lyndsay: Yeah, all 10. And then we can add to that a little bit like folks on my team who are a little bit more on the consumer engagement marketing side but have at one point actually were on the social team before the reorg, so there's a lot of the folks that you guys work with who understand the space are not responsible anymore for actually publishing to the space but can come with the ideas and they're creative and beefed up our day-to-day team a little bit. Because I think that's the toughest part ... I mean, there are definitely brands who have really, really robust social teams, and I think you could always make the case for more people. But I think for right now at least, like we are in a pretty good position based on what we're working with.
[00:27:09.28] David: How do you decide on strategy? I've always wondered from the network level, but with you guys I don't know if you and I have had this conversation before, but how do you decide what works on NBC Sports and then what we're going to just keep for Sunday Night Football or just keep for NASCAR or not? Like, is there any type of algorithm or any type of way you guys measure when to post on both accounts potentially?
[00:27:29.51] Lyndsay: Yeah, you know what? The NBC Sports accounts they're a work in progress, because to be honest the NBC Sports brand overall is not one that we lead with consumer-facing wise, like I think there are some of other broadcast networks that like their brand, their logo kind of defines who they are and then those sub-brands kind of spawn off of it.
[00:27:53.27] David: Turner Sports does something similar. I mean, they're not consumer-facing.
[00:27:57.00] Lyndsay: Yeah, exactly. And I think for sure with Turner, Bleacher is their digital voice. So that's something from a social perspective way back in the day, this was probably 2006, the nbcsports.com was sort of an offshoot of NBC News. So it was like basically the sports stories under the news umbrella. The Twitter account and the Facebook page were kind of spawned out of Seattle where at that time MSN was kind of running all of our content.
So for years and years and years these accounts were editorially-driven, news-driven because of the brand. We're pretty big, like they grew to be pretty big, but then when especially on Facebook things started to shift and editorial wasn't necessarily moving the needle, and content and video really needed to be there, we found that we had a really dormant group of a lot of people. And so we're still in this sort of like who is NBC Sports on social, because it's very easy, we've built our social business off of our brands - Sunday Night Football, NHL, NASCAR, Olympics, Premier League. Like you know the voice, you know what you're getting, you know the audience.
And so it really is, I mean, it's something for the past couple probably about the past 18 months is something where we have this opportunity, we've got I think almost four million people across all of our social accounts for sports, and we're still trying to figure that out because you think people come to NBC Sports for the sports on NBC. And so there's an opportunity there to talk about the NBA, there's an opportunity to talk about baseball, but we're still trying to figure out what our audience on those accounts want from us because it's crystal clear on football.
And so right now like we're not in the business of like share everything over there, because that still doesn't help us understand who these people are, so a lot of times it's sort of these really feel-good stories about players or like the grandma throwing out the first pitch or the little girl who gets the puck during the playoffs, like those kinds of things we know as a sweet spot for our audience, which I think is a huge opportunity because in sports right now the sort of bro culture, very like bro-y stuff is doing really, really well. It is not our brand; it's not going to be our brand.
So it's helpful to know there's white space in the complete opposite direction that we can take advantage of, because it's much more on brand than what some of the other guys are doing, and that's okay, so like that sweet spot seems to be working for us, really broad storylines seem to be working for us. But it's definitely a work in progress, because our engagement numbers on our other channels are off the charts, and we're getting NBC Sports there, but we also don't really want it to just be the place where you like get the retweet of the Sunday Night Football thing, because what's a point of just like a retweet factory. So we're getting there I think, but it's still definitely a work in progress.
[00:31:04.53] David: Which is I think as the industry everybody's starting to understand like you need the program each channel separately to that specific audience and not just throw stuff in the wall type deal. I've always wanted this and wanted to get your thoughts, so you mentioned this a couple minutes ago, but I feel like ESPN for instance in our industry is always under a microscope. Anything that @ESPN tweets or posts almost comes off like an official press announcement, whether it's politics or what-have-you, and since you guys are not as consumer-facing, maybe you're not under the microscope as much as maybe an ESPN, but how have you guys kind of walk that line on social? Because if you're posting something on @NBCSports all of a sudden that can kind of be almost again like an official statement from the NBC Sports brand.
[00:31:51.42] Lyndsay: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely ... I mean, we are very cognizant of it. I think ESPN has built a business for a very long time, a very legitimate business as a go-to place for sports fans. And so a lot of times that is definitely they are under the microscope, probably unfairly at times. Like, we all know like people can definitely have a misspelling and it does not mean the intern that's running your account because [unclear] runs your accounts, but that doesn't mean like doomsday.
But I will say like we are absolutely under the microscope around our big events. There is a serious level, like game-changing level with the Olympics. Everybody is an expert with the Olympics, everybody is weighing in on what we shouldn't and should do with our programming. So we definitely feel it, maybe not in the sports generalist landscape, but same with Sunday Night Football, having the number one show in Primetime for seven years in a landscape where ratings are declining is incredibly tough to do. And so when you are good at that, you definitely have people on your back. But I think we are probably sometimes to a detriment incredibly cognizant and cautious of what we are putting out there.
[00:33:05.42] David: But you have to be. I understand that, yeah.
[00:33:07.13] Lyndsay: But we pay a lot of money for sports rights, and I think sometimes I get jealous of ...
[00:33:15.22] David: You have to protect your assets.
[00:33:16.35] Lyndsay: Absolutely, and sometimes I get jealous of what Bleacher and Barstool can do, because it's like, "God, that is funny." Or like, "Man, they went for it." Or like, "They went for Eli Manning or they went for Aaron Rodgers. We could never do that." But our social business is a part of our larger business, and I think the better safe than sorry, not putting out something on Veterans Day to get those clicks when you've offended a veteran, it's like what exactly are you weighing in. I mean, you see it all the time, like a lot of these things are ... they're unnecessary, and you can be a part of a conversation that makes sense for your brand.
Mistakes are definitely going to happen, and oftentimes they're unintentional, but I think we are very pretty good about making sure that our folks know the line and know that we are part of a larger company, and that irritating or getting an interview turned down by a player because we put out a funny meme is not going to go over well. And I think that's just something that we have to balance, having a lot of these like real relationships versus some brands who have crazy engagement that don't have any of these actual business relationships across the leagues.
[00:34:33.57] David: I mean, it's a lot tougher than I think people make it out to be, I remember just like industry talk kind of more inside baseball, Bill Simmons criticized Roger Goodell on Dan Patrick's Show, and he got suspended by ESPN because they're in business with Roger Goodell and the NFL. I've always wondered ... But then Charles Barkley could say David Stern's a knucklehead, and that doesn't affect their relationship. You know what I mean? So I've always wondered like does that ... It must, but does it ever get to the point where when they're sitting down at the table for media rights that Roger Goodell is kind of irked because your talent talks crap about me on First Take or whatever. I'm sure that has to be a part of it.
[00:35:14.37] Lyndsay: I mean, I think every brand ... I think it's all kind of how you manage it. I think talent is an interesting one, because talent are paid to give their opinions, and I think there are definitely opinions ... We have talent on the air right now who have with rule changes or ... And this isn't just the NFL, but like with rule changes or organization changes or leadership changes, like we pay them to give their opinion. And it's not an authentic to the fans if we're just drinking the kool-aid with every league and every team. Like, that's not authentic either.
I think that's generally managed if the commissioner for any league gives our Chairman a call, it's how they handle it kind of is on them. I think we're on the social front, it's a little more black and white, as Sunday Night Football on NBC, NHL on NBC, these are brand accounts. And so that's where I think we are representing the brand.
It's not our own personal opinion when we put tweets out there, and we have to remember that there could be some kind of really awesome poll that we put out that makes fans think that like, "This is how we feel about this field, or this is how we feel about this track." And like it's not how we feel, because you've got ten people behind the scenes who have completely different favorite teams.
[00:36:38.00] David: Exactly.
[00:36:38.59] Lyndsay: And all of that, and so oftentimes we leave the opinions to our talent and we're not scared to put out, if one of our talent has a hot take on one of our studio shows, like we're not scared to put that out there. But we have to make sure we're balancing like this is not someone behind the scenes, that's the thumbs behind the Sunday Night Football account's opinion on X. This is either a writer, a journalist, Peter King or a talent. That's their opinion, and we kind of make that super clear.
Because it definitely gets murky with kind of who ... And I think especially in our world, like you've got a lot of folks who run social accounts who like respond from their personal accounts to like people trolling your brand accounts and like nobody cares that you're behind this. And some folks like really do care, like they want you to know that they're the people behind the accounts. We just don't take that position, because it's not really ... It's just not who we are.
[00:37:40.25] David: That's the thing, I just think like for whatever reason Jenna decide to make a snarky comment on SNF account. It almost as if like some people take that as if the chairman of NBC that's saying this. And it's just weird how people think that way. But we have to understand that like these social accounts have a lot more reach and are touching people much more than any press release, any write-up in the Wall Street Journal type stuff. So I think we're all understanding that.
To that point, what Turner's done with Bleacher Report, and I want to talk to you about On Her Turf as well because I think it's an amazing idea. If you made an account called @footballstuff, and you were able to kind of do more of that fun stuff and the bro stuff or what have you, since it doesn't have NBC in its name does that give you more leeway or at the end of the day the chairman and the partner is going to know, "Hey, that's an NBC account. That's not cool," type of deal?
[00:38:33.00] Lyndsay: Yeah, we actually just had this conversation the other day. I think there's some cool sort of like sub-verticals that are popping about, On Her Turf is one which we can talk about, that's really we think about all the time. And I think, yes, like even like ... I was taking a look the other day at ... Fox has the Thursday Night Football package this year. And what Fox Sports does around football and what NFL on Fox does around football often times are very different. Like, the Fox Sports account will take some digs, they'll kind of go there, and again, it's just not our brand so it's not going to be us, but I've always been interested, because that's clearly Fox Sports, it's not a sub-brand.
I've always been interested to think of like are they getting a call from the league if they don't like something? I don't know, because it's got the mark ... it doesn't have the shield on it, it's not the NFL account, but I do think ... I don't know, we've thought about ... and I still think like our overall brand is positive, it's about the fan, it's about like ... I just don't know. Even if it was a sub-brand, that we would still be that sort of bro culture taking digs at people.
I think the flip side of that would be if we did find value in acquiring a sub-brand like that, would we put our peacock fingerprints all over it and try to change it? I don't think so. I think if there's a valuable asset out there that maybe pushes the envelope and reaches young, the young male demo, and we find value in that. I think that would be something that would be pretty cool. But I don't know, I think we're just ... I think we try to stay in this like positive every man vibe, and I think it would be hard to separate out the peacock from stuff. I think one really good example actually is the Roto world franchise is owned by NBC Sports.
[00:40:27.28] David: And you don't like take it to NBC when you ... yeah.
[00:40:29.19] Lyndsay: You don't, and I don't know we do ... We don't overly brand it either as like people go to Roto world for fantasy news, it powers a lot of sites, like it makes money for us. It doesn't need peacocks everywhere for you to know. They're also not going after partners or anything, but they ... I mean, we have fantasy experts who have opinions on players, like I think that's one example where we do have this sub-brand that is honest and opinionated, that's worked in our favor as well.
[00:41:00.55] David: And I've always ... I mean, the Jenny Storm coming from Pepsi, like Pepsi is also I think naked juice or mountain dew, like there's no reason to put the Pepsi ... There's no reason to put the Pepsi logo on every product, and kind of let that have its own marketing plan, its own demographic and things like that.
[00:41:18.30] Lyndsay: Yeah.
[00:41:19.05] David: Yeah, so let's talk about On Her Turf. This was something you guys release prior to the football season and going after females obviously as your main demo.
[00:41:29.00] Lyndsay: Yeah, exactly. So actually we launched it as if we had nothing else to do the second week of the Olympics or like second day of the Olympics or something. It was like, yeah, do again, alive, survived.
[00:41:39.20] David: I feel like that whole month for you is like a blur, you blacked out.
[00:41:44.00] Lyndsay: I completely blacked out. So basically it was launched as an Instagram account, @onherturf, really designed for women being their best selves on and off the field. And we partnered with Refinery29 which is a very female focused, I would say progressive young. They hit topics head-on, that are challenging women. And we did that strategically, we didn't want this to be the lady version of the sports accounts, like that is not what this is. I, as a female sports fan I don't need pink stuff; I don't need dumb down news, like I get it.
But we do think they're ... we did a ton of data research with Shareably on like ... The real goal of this was we felt like there was an opportunity on Instagram to have a sub-brand. And we sort of tossed out there what is the white space? A few different things came back like surfing and eSports and then women in sports with sort of this more raw angle. Because right now it's really personal brands, it's women who are into fitness or peloton or great motivational speakers. It's a lot of personal brands, but not a lot of larger brands. And so that's how On Her Turf started as an Instagram account.
And that went through, that still exists, we're growing at a really rapid pace which is great. But what we definitely did not want to do was have this be an Instagram account, period. Because it's more than that, it's really it's sort of this mantra, it's an overarching brand. And so since then we've launched this week actually a podcast with Katherine Tappan who Davids our NHL coverage, she's on our Notre Dame coverage, she's wonderful, she was a college athlete as well. Her first two guests on the podcast are Annika Sorenstam and Kim Pegula who's owner the Bills and the Sabres.
So really the podcast is about hearing from women all through sports. We've got I think Sydney Leroux is going to be on the show at some point, Abby Wambach's going to be on the show at some point. So we've got all these women from different ages, different sports, different pieces of where they work in sports, so that's exciting.
And then we also launched a 17-week video series called football is female, which is distributed across our social channels, sports, Sunday Night Football YouTube, nbcsports.com, where it's really focusing on women in football at all different levels. So our first two episodes with that one was Michele Tafoya obviously who is our female face for Sunday Night Football, but then Charlotte Jones-Anderson who's Jerry Jones's daughter, chief brand officer at the Cowboys. We're interviewing the Cylon reporter from the Detroit Lions this week. We've got the assistant athletic trainer at the Steelers.
So not just executives, it literally could be the biggest fan club in New England is actually run by a woman, like that kind of stuff. Like, we don't want it to be like ... We came out the gate hot with Michelle and Charlotte, like they are tip-top. But that's not ... We want to hear from all different women, and we're aligning it with Sunday Night Football. So we have our own extra promotional arm, so each woman that you hear from is going to be from a city that's on Sunday night that week. So we have that act like kind of extra lift from a promotional standpoint.
But I mean, this is like a passion project for sure, this was something Jenny Storms and I were sort of ideating about late last year, and we both ... It's sort of a space we both were like and we're very different sports fans, we're very different women. We're like there's a gap. I don't want to be ... I don't want to have to go necessarily to ESPNW for my women's sports news, there's something missing there. And so it was really ... it's been great. We have interest from sponsors which is always good; it always helps you keep things like this moving along. But we had a pop up at kickoff where people could actually come in.
[00:45:59.44] David: I saw that. Awesome.
[00:46:01.00] Lyndsay: Yeah, it's like we're just being crazy now. But I do think it's cool how long we'll have it. It's TBD, but I think we've launched it in a really authentic way. And definitely for anybody that listens to the podcast if you like anything, it's cool, like we appreciate the feedback because it's definitely in its infancy.
[00:46:20.05] David: Right. Well, with all these investments that you guys are making on your team, and with all these different accounts and On Her Turf, obviously the goal I think ultimately is to program these different franchises that can be sold for sponsorship. So now that you definitely oversee that and you're in those talks, as we sit here like in 2018, are we going to be in a situation where there's a presenting sponsor for On Her Turf brand for $5 million like as we continue to grow? Is that the pie in the sky or the ultimate goal for social to be bringing in some serious, serious revenue in the next three to five years?
[00:46:58.03] Lyndsay: Yeah, I mean, I think it's anything, not just social. I mean, I think the more money you're able to bring in the more opportunities you have to do some cool innovative stuff. And I think, absolutely, I think social is an area that there's a lot of really good content, there's a lot of big fluffy metrics that comes with it. And it should be valuable. I think we're a little bit at the disposal of each social network in terms of their ad products and things like that, but I do think, yeah, absolutely it's like anything else that we do, we want to try to monetize it, we want to try to get it in front of the right people. Because like I said the more money we can make on this stuff in an authentic way, and I don't mean we're slapping logos on ...
[00:47:42.00] David: Exactly.
[00:47:42.20] Lyndsay: Like, anybody that works in this space knows, when you start slapping logos on stuff and making things that look like an ad, like people on social media are not stupid.
[00:47:49.10] David: They tune out.
[00:47:50.17] Lyndsay: Yeah, they tune out. And they also don't have to follow you, like that's something we think about all the time. Like, I'd really don't want a sponsored post to be the reason a hundred people unfollow us. So I think there's a delicate balance there, but I do think it has a huge opportunity to be a revenue driver for companies. It's just how do we do that in an authentic way, so that we're not also turning off these people that we've aggregated that kind of trust us giving them cool content.
[00:48:18.30] David: Yep, all right, so now I got to get you out of here. Let me do some rapid fire questions here to get us out. What is the one social or marketing tool that you could not live without?
[00:48:27.20] Lyndsay: One social ... I've been like coming around a lot to Crowd Tangle.
[00:48:36.08] David: Me too.
[00:48:36.59] Lyndsay: I think that helps me not being as in the weeds as I once was, really understanding how our content is performing. And Justin, our director of social, like set me up and I feel like an old person sometimes, I'm like I used to be able to like set up something like now I don't have any clue. But I think Crowd Tangle's really helped me just keep an eye on everything, and also check on our competitors, and that kind of thing.
[00:49:00.20] David: How do you see marketing and social changed in the next three to five years?
[00:49:06.03] Lyndsay: I think marketing is definitely going to be one of those things that brands are going to have to start to think outside of the box and not just go back. I think in sports we're forced to do this, because we've got the same ... We've got Sunday Night Football every year, but how we're promoting it, what's happened to the teams and all that. Sports you're forced to turn on a dime and not get too comfortable. So I think that's going to probably go outside of just sports for marketers in general, like if you've been doing the same stuff for four years and you're not seeing any return on investment, like stop doing it. And so I think that's something where brands are going to absolutely focused on mobile, they're going to be focused on younger people. And if they're not they're just going to end up getting left behind and become not relevant.
[00:49:51.42] David: From a business perspective for you guys, what social platform seems be working the best for you right now?
[00:49:57.42] Lyndsay: I think best is a tough one, because I think Facebook we still see tremendous reach. I think we've diversified our content distribution so that Facebook isn't as much of front and center as it used to be. But we do still really reach a ton of people, especially around NASCAR and football, I think our audience is pretty, pretty right there.
I also think we've seen a lot of success on Instagram of just really completely rethinking what we're doing. It is certainly a platform where you can't just take one thing and slap it on Instagram. And so Instagram stories have been great for us, it's been a really fun way to also kind of test out driving people to monetizable asset. So I would say Facebook it's still the way that we reach in mass, but Instagram is one where we're keeping an eye on just like this new much, much younger audience for us.
[00:50:54.37] David: Yep, all right, in our industry FOMO is a major, major problem I think because everything moves so fast. So what's the one thing you would recommend that all social media and marketers either read or subscribe to, to make sure or what do you use just to kind of make sure you're staying on top of your game?
[00:51:10.11] Lyndsay: I try also to get out of like the sports stuff.
[00:51:17.00] David: I hear that a lot, yeah.
[00:51:18.04] Lyndsay: Like, I really like ... I'm like over the top into the podcasts, I need to like get out of the political podcast space a little bit. But I actually think podcasting is a really interesting way to like learn kind of with the super old medium and like how they market other podcast and stuff, so that's been ... I've been trying to like think outside the sports bubble.
The other thing I would say is subscribing and paying attention to your email, like I have so many things that I do not care about that come through my Gmail, but I mean, this is sort of a broad answer, it's not like a book or a website, but like why am I clicking on the ones that I am and like what is it about the email that's from a sponsor or brand that I'm opening? Because I think that's another really interesting one that's not social, but email is like you are all up in people's every day, and like the people that do it well, a lot of like retail does it really, really well where I'm like, "Why did I click on this?"
[00:52:14.01] David: And how can I use that for maybe ... yeah, replicate it.
[00:52:15.40] Lyndsay: Exactly, like that's one where ... like your email, you're in it, and if you're allowing people into your inbox, there's something they're doing right. And so that's another one where I just like I pay attention now more to my Gmail. That's so random, but like I do to try to take those lessons on.
[00:52:31.55] David: No, I forward emails to my sales team sometimes, if I see another person trying to sell me, just like it works well. I'm like, "This is actually pretty smart. I like how this guy did."
[00:52:41.00] Lyndsay: Yeah, or the opposite where you're like that really irritated me ...
[00:52:45.17] David: Yeah, exactly. Never do this, please, please.
[00:52:47.25] Lyndsay: I just unsubscribe, then it's really bad.
[00:52:50.06] David: All right, any advice for anyone striving to be in your shoes one day, kind of VP at a large sports network, what would be your main piece of advice?
[00:52:57.15] Lyndsay: Yeah, I mean, I think what I'm noticing with the kids and like full disclosure, I am a millennial, and I just found that out a couple years ago and I didn't understand how it could be possible.
[00:53:08.00] David: I think like 30, what is it now? If you were born in 85 or after or I don't know, something.
[00:53:15.01] Lyndsay: It's 82. So the one thing that I will say is, is that there is something to the first couple of years of your job of digging in and doing work that you might feel like you're above, but learning and bouncing around. And you don't have to be at the same company for 12 years, but I think it's really important to sort of roll up your sleeves and do the dirty work early. Because regardless of whether or not there's this sort of millennial mentality that people talk about all the time, like your bosses and bosses' bosses are old-school.
And I think hard work and putting in the time and coming in early and staying late in those early years before you do know everything, I think still resonates with the people that are making the decisions about sort of your growth in your career. Because like you said earlier on the podcast, like folks jump around, and I think that's awesome. And I actually think it gives you a lot of opportunity that our parents didn't have. But at the same time I think good old-fashioned hard work and putting your head down early in your career is actually still really, really important to get in there so you can kind of grow at a quicker pace than some other folks.
[00:54:31.31] David: Yeah, I think there's ... maybe the old school mentality was if you did this, this, and this, you're automatically ascend. But like with your career it's like, "Hey, guys. This social thing is like really important, what if I became the head of that and kind of made sure we stayed on top of it." Like, "Lyndsay, that's a great idea. Now you're the head of ..." I mean, you found your niche and you're like, "Guys, like ..." And literally positions were being created because of that. I think that's a great piece of advice.
All right, so I'll get you out here, I know we're a little late. I'm going to see you in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the real-time summit.
[00:54:59.36] Lyndsay: Oh, yeah.
[00:55:00.05] David: I think we're on a panel together, so I'm looking forward to your speech too.
[00:55:02.40] Lyndsay: We're on the panel. Yeah, I'm the keynote at 8:15AM.
[00:55:06.10] David: I got to prepare, I better get ready.
[00:55:09.33] Lyndsay: On the first day, so it's either going to be like packed because people are going to be talking in a bit, or like who is showing up to this keynote at 8:15.
[00:55:15.14] David: I'll be there for you, I got you, front row.
[00:55:17.31] Lyndsay: Yeah, please. Front row. Thank you.
[00:55:20.08] David: Well, thanks so much for the time, this was great, so like the podcast allows us ... we probably would never sit down for an hour and just talk like this. So this is cool, man. So thank you so much.
[00:55:28.01] Lyndsay: Awesome. Cool. Thanks.
[00:55:28.53] David: Talk to you soon. Later.
[00:55:30.00] Lyndsay: Bye.
[00:55:34.30] David: Lyndsay Singor, I'm so excited and so happy that we were able to sit down and just talk about the industry. That was some really good stuff. I love her, just love her thoughts on how she approaches marketing and social and how she understands the change in our industry and how to ... You have to realize that, how we're going to change, how we're going to make sure that we're going to stay on top of the industry and get towards the fan. I also feel like what she said about if you're doing the same thing for the last four years that doesn't resonate with your fan base or doesn't return an investment, stop doing that thing.
Like, it's so true, and I think especially in linear there's a lot of folks out there that just are doing the same thing over and over again because that's the way it's always been. But to have that wherewithal to understand that we have to change with the market, we have to try new things. I mean, the On Her Turf thing is an incredible way to let's try it, let's have this female focus brand on Instagram, let's see how it goes, let's see if we can fill this niche that we think desperately needs to be filled. So I always respected her. And again, it was so fun to catch up with her on all these different things, not only in the industry but day to day over at NBC, how she kind of approaches it and how she attacks it. So excited for that.
She is going to be at the real-time summit, we're going to be over there at the Chattanooga, Tennessee, so we'll be able to talk some more on that. And yeah, it's always a pleasure for you guys. So we have some cool podcasts, if you haven't had a chance to check out Brian Pettigrew, the CMO of Breeders Cup, we really dug into marketing and how he approaches it. I thought that was super valuable. Samantha Wood over at the reigning world champs, Philadelphia Eagles. Emma May the VP of Turner Sports. So if you really like this one, Lyndsay being the VP of NBC Sports, they had a lot of the same theories and thoughts and just both really smart women working in our space. So as always, I want to thank Auntie Lightning, David Frerker and Sam Head for all their help on the show, this has been another edition of the business of social podcast powered by STN Digital.