IWD: As Facebook’s lead for sports media partnerships across the EMEA region, Anna Chanduvi works with broadcasters, OTT platforms and digital publishers to help them drive engagement, subscriptions and monetization via Facebook and Instagram.
Anna Chanduvi says she always wanted to work in sport. She grew up in Austria, where she played basketball (her father is Venezuelan, and played basketball for the national team), and went on to study sports management at Loughborough University in the UK.
While there, she secured an internship at the NBA in London, working in media distribution in EMEA and supporting the sale of NBA TV rights and content across the region. After she finished her degree, she was hired by the new SVP of content at beIN Sports – her former manager at the NBA - to join the sports broadcaster’s content acquisitions team, with a brief to acquire rights for its channels across the Middle East, North America, Asia, Pacific, and Turkey.
In 2018, towards the end of her time at beIN Sports, Chanduvi says she started to become interested in how sports broadcasters could partner with social channels to gain subscribers. But it was also a time when there was a major discussion about whether platforms like Snapchat and Facebook were friends or foes to sports broadcasters, given recent moves to acquire content. Facebook, for example, was bidding for Premier League rights in South East Asia.
Chanduvi joined Facebook in 2018 to look after media and broadcast partnerships in a team that also works with clubs, athletes, leagues, and federations. She’s also involved in a number of initiatives to support women in sport and the media.
International Women’s Day This interview is part of a week-long series of conversations with inspirational women in craft, technology and leadership roles. For more interviews click here
IBC365: How can sports media work with Facebook to develop audiences and subscriptions and to monetise content?
Anna Chanduvi: Our holistic value proposition to the industry is what we call the ‘4 business solution’.
The first is audience generation and next generation audience development. For a lot of pay TV broadcasters that is using our products and platforms to reach younger audiences, engaging them, and turning them into paying subscribers. For a team, it could be reaching audiences in Asia or in the US and growing fan bases across other regions. For other publishers, it might be reaching female audiences, and expanding their subscriber base among that demographic. It can also be using new surfaces like Instagram Reels to reach unconnected audiences - that is non followers of your account.
A lot of our publishers are now looking for ways to deepen the fan experience across digital to drive more engagement, and to really get more data on what it is that their audience wants. We’ve got a lot of engagement tools they can use, such as live polling. When publishers stream live on our platform and use live polling - we’ve seen this with Champions League in Latin America - a user is likely to watch twice as long as someone who didn’t engage in a live poll. Another tool is Facebook Groups. For example, BT Sport has a Facebook group in the UK with over 40,000 boxing fans. Over 80% of the content in that group is not generated by group admins. It is user generated conversation happening around their boxing. It is about using those little tricks and new services to deepen the understanding of who your audience is, and what they want.
“I’ve had instances where people would look at me and say, ‘I’m meeting with you? Where is your manager,’ and then I have to explain to them, ‘I’m the one who’s acquiring this content’,” Anna Chanduvi
Second, we also offer commerce and conversion, helping our partners to monetize off our platforms by driving things like ticket and merchandise sales. A lot of clubs do this to sell their kits and their jerseys. Every surface on Instagram is now shoppable, so you can sell products across feed, IGTV and Reels. Bayern Munich, for example, do a lot of commerce across Instagram, and it is really incorporated into their day to day content strategy.
Third, there’s sponsorship and branded content. An example would be goal.com, a digital publisher that that we work with. During the COVID pandemic, they streamed EA match simulations live every Sunday on Facebook, and over time were able to build quite an engaged audience, and then to find a branded content partner.
Finally, there’s advertising revenue, which is really the biggest opportunity across Facebook Watch. An example would be Tennis TV who were able to monetize the content that they uploaded that is longer than three minutes. When a viewer watches for one minute an ad gets inserted. By uploading more plus three minute content, they were able to drive their advertising payouts by 60% on a half on half [year] basis.
But essentially it’s those four businesses: audience development, commerce and conversion, branded content, and advertising revenues.
So media companies should see Facebook as a friend rather than foe? Are you buying sports rights?
We’re not actively buying sports rights. It was never about us going after sports rights per se, we were just investing in a select type and select number of content…to gather best practices, data and to support our publishers with their own goals and objectives.
We really see our place as a platform that allows publishers to reach audiences and then engage and monetize those audience. That’s really where our superpower lies. A lot of the products and services that we launch are always in line with that objective.
And does placing content on Facebook risk cannibalizing viewers / revenues?
I work with a lot of pay-TV broadcasters who used to see us as a threat. But now we’re starting to be a proof that there’s no cannibalization taking place - that the audiences across our platform are younger, and it’s a different set of demographics than their pay TV subscribers, and they are now able to reach a brand new set of fans, and to monetize those fans in parallel to their existing subscriber base and revenue.
Can you give us some indication of the reach of Facebook platforms with sports fans? And how about for women’s sport?
Globally, there’s over 700 million sports fans on Facebook, and 400 million on Instagram – and growing. For women’s football, in particular, there’s over 24 million fans on Facebook, and over 22 million on Instagram. And over 38% of those women’s sport fans are under the age of 25, which is incredibly exciting.
Despite those grandiose numbers, we really try to help publishers to look inward and look at their own audiences, at who those audiences are and what are they most interested in. We now have a product called Creator Studio, which is available to every sports publisher and that can do very sophisticated audience analysis. We really give them a lot of insight around watch time, loyalty, one minute views, how much revenue each of their videos are generating. We’ve now also introduced a new feature called A/B testing in Creator Studio that allows publishers to upload four different versions of one piece of content to see which is most likely to perform the best among their fans, then they can just go with that version, and optimise for watch time and revenue.
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Can you give us some examples of how Facebook can help women’s sport increase audiences and revenues?
We’ve worked a lot with BT Sport and Sky Sports around helping them drive more value out of their rights and engage new audiences through [women’s sports] content. BT for example, streamed the opening match [Manchester City vs Aston Villa] of Women’s Super League live on Facebook on September 5. They cross posted it with Manchester City and the WSL. They realised that 94% of people that watched at least one minute of the stream were non-followers of the BT Sport page. Through that stream they were able to reach a completely unconnected audience and tap into that new audience that is beyond just their Facebook fan page. That unlocks other opportunities, pulling those new audiences in and making them regular viewers of BT Sport content, and then over time getting them to subscribe to BT Sport’s services.
At the moment, women’s sport is not necessarily a subscription driver for pay-TV sports broadcasters. Yes, there is very loyal and engaged audience that will pay. But it’s still a niche sport. So growing awareness and interest outside of the paywall will then translate into more engagement and loyalty. They can also gather more audience data, and they can monetize that content outside of their paywalls. And then once they build that loyal fan base, start converting them to paying subscribers of their wider services.
You’re involved in a number of initiatives to support women in sport and media, like Facebook’s Sports Partnerships’ programme Leaders Meet: Diversity Series and you’re a mentor on the Women’s Sport’s Trust Unlocked Programme. Tell us more.
It’s been a major passion of mine ever since I started working at beIN Sports and especially coming from the media rights world. 99% of the time, I was the only woman in the room and much younger than a lot of the people I was negotiating against. I’ve had instances where people would look at me and say, ‘I’m meeting with you? Where is your manager,’ and then I have to explain to them, ‘I’m the one who’s acquiring this content.’
I’ve had a lot of those little experiences in my career. That’s just made me more determined to challenge a lot of the stereotypes that come with being a woman in the world of sports. And really helping mentor, and share my story, and create community groups for women to be able to come together to uplift and empower each other - not just to focus on the negative and how challenging it is and how much harder we have to work. One of the things that I’ve always found a bit overwhelming is that there’s a lot of negativity sometimes that comes with it. We need more space to have more empowering and uplifting conversations - really looking at us and the communities that we build amongst each other as a strength and a source of allyship.
The Leaders Diversity piece is something that I lead on behalf of Facebook. We’ve created community calls during COVID, where we bring together female execs in sports every month, and we explore topics like allyship, having difficult conversations, how to create a more diverse work environment.
We’ve engaged over 300 executives since we started this, and one of the things we’re excited to do is open this up to allies. I think a key in driving diversity is bringing allies along into this journey, because we have to tackle this as an industry. There’s a lot of unconscious bias that we need to address. If you ask someone is diversity important to them, they’ll say of course it is. But the way that diversity gets challenged is through everyday interactions at work. When male executives might talk over females, or the male colleagues get a lot more praise than the females do. So how do we better educate our allies and organisations around those type of micro interactions that happen on an everyday basis? It’s not just about hiring 10 women, and saying we’re diverse now. It’s about how do you create the environment before you hire those diverse individuals - not only women, but people of colour as well.
I’m on the board of Sport Equity Foundation whose mission is to advocate and enable equal access across all levels of sports, from the playing field to the board room.
I also participated in one of Women’s Sports Trust’s programmes called Unlocked, which is a really amazing programme by Tammy Parlour, their chairman. It’s a programme that brings together 40 female athletes with 40 executives in sport, male and female, and pairs them. I was paired with Lucy Adams, a professional skateboarder. It’s a really wonderful programme to help upskill a lot of athletes, because most female athletes have full time jobs to fund their passion. They’ll play for their country, and then they’ll go to their day job, which could be accounting or teaching or anything. So how do we help them transition more into a sports world and really help them make the most of their assets and develop their own personal brand?
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