Marketing Week (MW): Most media companies suffered during the global financial crisis. How well have Eurosport’s finances held up?
Laurent-Eric Le Lay (LLL): In 2010 we had a good increase in advertising revenues, and have continued to increase our revenues on the distribution side. That growth is mainly in eastern Europe.
A financial crisis is never good and we experienced some difficulties on the advertising side, particularly in 2009, but that has now passed and the group is in a very good position.
We are all over Europe in different sports. We always have some good and bad financial news because the economic situation is never the same everywhere. For example, it is more difficult in Greece than it is in the UK. However, we are in a position to take advantage of the growing markets and that is what we have done.
MW: Since 2007, Eurosport’s online content has been provided through a website co-branded with Yahoo! What was the thinking behind this collaboration?
LLL: It is the meeting of a big internet portal, without specific expertise and know-how in sport, with a channel and brand in Eurosport that has a European expertise in sport. We decided to merge our expertise and offer pure but complete sports coverage on the internet in four markets – the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain. We decided to have one common platform with the two brands, Yahoo! and Eurosport. Yahoo! does all the technical part and we do all the content.
MW: How is Eurosport’s marketing of its own products evolving to adapt to the concept of multimedia broadcasting, and how important is it to allow consumers to interact?
LLL: Marketing is something that is becoming more and more important because we are in a more competitive world; not only because now we have more than 200 TV channels everywhere in the world, but also because we have new media. You always need to have your logo and the marketing with it somewhere. It becomes more and more important but it is not only a question of money. The idea is to try and be creative.
Creating your own fan page on Facebook is a very efficient marketing tool. Brands all over the world have their own fan page.
We allow people throughout the world to pose questions to our commentators on a live basis through the internet. A stage of cycling is often three, four or five hours, so it gives us time to answer those queries. This is part of the marketing. When we develop a community online, we try to be creative.
MW: Eurosport broadcasts a large number of events that are not shown elsewhere, some of which have very specialist appeal. How does Eurosport market the events to increase its own audiences?
LLL: We have a lot of long-term partnerships with events that we broadcast on Eurosport. We market the fact that the event is broadcast on Eurosport, but the first aspect is to say that you are going to like this event. Even in winter sports, we are growing ski-jumping and biathlon in many countries. These sports were not well-known at the beginning. France used to be a country of alpine skiing.
Snooker is very popular all over Europe, and we have been the first to broadcast snooker all over the Continent. Events such as the Australian Open tennis tournament are very well-known because they are on Eurosport. When you broadcast 120 different sports, you have the capability to touch a lot of communities.
MW: What is the benefit to an advertiser of having its ad shown to the audiences of these niche sports and events?
LLL: When we broadcast sport, we broadcast some values as well. What is important to advertisers is that they have variety. They can broadcast an ad during an equestrian event; or when they want to be on winter sport, we have the capability to create something that connects with their values. When you buy Eurosport as an advertiser, you buy the channel, the ratings and the values.