Behind the scenes of the sports and entertainment industry in Asia
Jasper Donat is the Co-Founder and CEO of Branded. Branded produce award winning events, such as All That Matters, and have spent 25 years connecting businesses and marrying great content with partner brands throughout Asia. In this Q+A we look behind the scenes of the sports and entertainment industry in Asia.
1. What is your background in sports and entertainment?
My first job in sport was as an International Account Manager at Eurosport, based in London in 1992. In 1995, I moved to Hong Kong to become the Head of Sales for Star Sport’s Sports Corp, which then merged with ESPN. This eventually led me to moving into the music space, working for a music channel called Channel V.
2. Why did you set up Branded and what does it do?
I set up Branded with Michael Denmark in 2001 when we genuinely saw an opportunity in the entertainment business to help international companies come into Asia and succeed, whether they were setting up events, setting up themselves, or bringing artists to the region. We originally started out as agents.
Then in 2006 we launched our own event called Music Matters, followed by other events such as Digital Matters and Social Matters, finally in 2013 we launched Sports Matters. Now we would describe ourselves as a ‘live media’ company, we take content and material that has been online or on air and take it into a live space.
3. Why did you decide to get into the conference space with Music Matters, Sports Matters and now All That Matters!
We had been working with a few conference organisers helping them organise their events and a friend of mine brought up the fact that there was no industry conference for the music industry at the time. Music had always been a passion of mine, however even though music was becoming amazingly widespread through the internet, it was going into a serious recession. So it seemed like a good time to get the industry together to talk about the positives and celebrate the wins. It ended up being very successful and it all expanded from there.
I think it is the number of different ingredients that we bring. Firstly, the programme we put together focuses on celebrating the positives within the industry.
Secondly, it’s about customer experience. We work hard to really look after all our attendees with a very personal service. We treat them as friends and care about their experience. We want them to meet as many people as possible and have a great time.
Lastly, it’s production. We spend far too much on production! But we want delegates to walk into the room and go WOW! We want to make them feel special and loved. I think we are the only event in the world that have rock bands playing in-between sessions. Lights, smoke and loud music, this is the entertainment industry we are supposed to be celebrating!
5. Why are you combining your conferences into one ‘super’ conference, All That Matters?
Sports, music and entertainment are converging and they are converging very very quickly. Platforms like YouTube, Facebook and OTT channels are flattening out the world digitally, making it easier for them to converge.
However, just because China is spending billions of dollars does not mean the Asian sports industry is in a sustainable position, it still has the same issues it always used to have. Having worked in both industries I can see the similarities close up and I genuinely believe the sports industry needs the music industry and the music industry needs the sports industry to survive.
Therefore, we decided to combine all our conferences together, to take place during the Formula 1 week in Singapore. It has never been done before in Asia at this scale or with the amount of content tracks we have. But I feel some great business opportunities will come out of taking people out of their comfort zone where they are meeting people they don’t know.
Want to know what’s in store at All That Matters this September? Watch their promo video to find out.
6. How have the sports and entertainment industries changed in Asia since you started Branded?
The reason we started Sports Matters was to help create the foundations of a sustainable Asian sports business. If you look at 1995 until 2013 the sports industry has had the same issues. There was corruption, sponsorship was very hard to come by because they couldn’t justify the value and there was no real loyalty amongst fans, with little culture of buying tickets.
However, with the advent of digital and OTT platforms, fans can now subscribe to their favourite sport, allowing organisations to measure a commercial return. Digital has really been embraced by the smaller sports, where it’s accepted that you have to do it yourself and not rely on the broadcasters. This has led to sponsors starting to see sport (and music) as a viable platform.
In the last 12 months China has started to ‘happen’, but the talk will be, is it sustainable? In response to this, we are putting together a panel about India – called “Don’t forget about me”. There is a massive opportunity in just these two countries alone.
7. What are the main challenges facing the sports and entertainment industries in Asia?
Piracy is the main challenge. If people can’t get it legally, people will find it online somewhere.
As mentioned previously, there is no culture of buying tickets. With the expectation of buying tickets for international events, people just aren’t used to buying tickets for local/second tier sports. There is no culture of being taken to your first sports match when you are young and therefore you support that team forever. That loyalty doesn’t really exist.
There is discussion around, are exhibition games in Asia really that important? How can they be made to be more meaningful or do you try and grow local sports fan bases to such an extent that they replace international teams?
Sponsorship is still a challenge. Unless sports or events can justify the cost and its value to a brand then why will the brand be willing to take the risk? Why would they put money into an event if it is less of a risk to put money into digital advertising? Sports and music need to carry on investing in research and ways to provide value.
8. If you had a crystal ball, what do you think it would be showing for the sports and entertainment industries in Asia?
Millennials are starting to turn 30, therefore attention needs to turn towards the current batch of teenagers, and they don’t watch TV channels. If they want to watch a show they will go out and find the show somewhere online. It is the same in music, they aren’t buying or listening to albums, they are listening to singles. The album is like a TV channel and the single is a show. The music industry has adapted to this and artists are now releasing tracks rather than albums on an ongoing basis.
There is a lot of talk about Virtual Reality (VR) this year. Everyone is jumping on the VR bandwagon. Live Nation are releasing 100 concerts on VR where you can be live on stage. Whilst at the moment it’s a little clunky and not very cool, technology is bound to change that.
The future will be all about demand generation, the power of the consumer. If I want to watch sport, I want to watch it wherever I am. Live will still be important, but individual sports can now talk directly to their fans. They are not beholden to channels and can create content that the fans want to see for when they want to see it and they are willing to pay for it. However, it’s not just about the content it’s also about the experience. That is why Netflix is doing so well, the experience is so powerful, it’s seamless and in HD. Content plus experience will be key.
9. What talent will win out in the sports, media and entertainment industries going forward?
Up until recently, being a doctor, lawyer or accountant has taken preference over working in the Asian sports industry, however this is starting to change. Hopefully this means more job creation and people filling those jobs won’t necessarily be expats.
Sales candidates are always in high demand. Everyone always needs good sales people for sponsorship sales and the commercialisation of properties.
Sports industry organisations also need to learn how to get more social, currently they are missing a big opportunity to connect and listen to their fans.
10. What can we expect at All That Matters?
We are still going to keep the identity of all the tracks. The sports track will still be branded Sports Matters with a separate programme. But at the same time we are offering people the opportunity to learn about other industries by being able to attend Music Matters or Digital Matters. Hopefully, delegates will have to make a tough decision between different content tracks because they want to see all of it!
We hope that the sports industry hangs out with the music industry and the digital industry and vice versa. The music industry is starting to learn a lot from streaming and making money from it, therefore the sports industry and other industries can learn from what the music industry is doing. You add music and sport together and you get ‘live’ (e.g. WWE), so there will be a lot of live people together in one place.
Even though we are merging the tracks into one week, it’s still going to be the same rich experience and I hope delegates walk out with a lot of business cards having run out themselves. Great programme + great experience + great production = great networking!
The award winning All That Matters festival returns to Singapore, September 12-15, 2016. This year, Music Matters, Sports Matters and Digital Matters all come together under the same roof for the first time!
With one ticket buying you access to all three tracks, there has never been a more valuable time to be part of Asia’s biggest entertainment event of the year! Therefore, why not take advantage of an exclusive SRi VIP offer by using the code: SRIVIPPROMO to give you 10% off the early bird VIP rate. Click here to register now.