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ESPN and AT&T representatives discuss commercial sponsorship to students

By Laura Byko, Point Park News Service:

Much of the events surrounding the opening of Point Park’s Center for Media Innovation centered on journalism and the media, but Point Park’s more business-minded students were also well-served during the afternoon panel hosted by the Pittsburgh Center for Sports Media and Marketing.

“The Speed of Live: Why Sports Matter Most to Fans and Brands” drew enough students to fill the Lawrence Hall Ballroom Tuesday afternoon.

Junior Broadcast major Josh Croup opened up the proceedings with a brief introduction of the two speakers: Chris Eames, Vice-President of Multimedia Sales and Marketing for ESPN; and Jamie Kerr, Director of Corporate Sponsorships for AT&T.

The Pittsburgh Center for Sports Media and Marketing hosted two representatives from ESPN and AT&T Tuesday afternoon. Photo credit Hallie Sandor, Point Park News Service.
The Pittsburgh Center for Sports Media and Marketing hosted two representatives from ESPN and AT&T Tuesday afternoon. Photo credit Hallie Sandor, Point Park News Service.

After Eames told the obligatory Pittsburgh sports anecdote (in which he accused Lynn Swann of breaking his heart when the former Steeler helped beat Dallas in the 1974 SuperBowl), he launched into an explanation of why “the speed of live” matters.

“ESPN is in the business of live,” he said, detailing how sports’ need to be consumed live makes them the perfect vehicle for sponsorship.

Kerr then talked about why college sports specifically are useful for sponsorships.

“You don’t switch allegiances for college teams like you do for professional teams,” he said.

The bulk of the presentation focused on the sponsorship opportunity AT&T jumped on when college football changed its championship from a single bowl game to a four-team playoff.

“That was arguably the biggest change to the sports landscape in 50 years,” said Eames, who worked with Kerr to establish AT&T’s sponsorship of the championship game.

A brief Q&A session followed the presentation, and the subject of students’ questions ranged from contract negotiations to how multimedia needs to change in an increasingly digital marketplace.

Senior Sports, Art and Entertainment Management major Louis Spanos found the panel’s focus on branding useful.

“For someone who’s not a sports person, I thought it was really insightful,” he said.

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