Sportico is the newest sports business digital content property to enter into the worldwide media and publishing industries with the financial, technological and infrastructure backing of Penske Media Corporation (PMC). The entity’s name is a blend of “sport” and “company.” They plan to cover the business aspect of sports. Dick Glover and Scott Soshnick are the key sports and entertainment veteran executives at this new startup. Glover is President and CEO while Soshnick is their Editor in Chief and Head of Content. Scott chatted with the Sports Techie community blog about this new venture, working with Dick and joining the Penske Media brands, in addition to everything from eSports, COVID19 and stadiums. Sportico’s goal is to become the preferred platform for the sports industry’s global business leaders, creatives, influencers, and fans alike, providing exclusive and breaking news, data and strategic insights, as well as covering leadership and live media. As the world’s direct source for sportsbiz information, Sportico will piggyback off PMC’s wide assortment of digital media and information services that include technology, publishing and research abilities regarding news, insight and B2B data. Providing information on events, education and live media are content verticals in progress. PMC has the international audience experience digitally wired and Sportico brings the $500 billion global sports market into their portfolio.
Sportico begins operations with East and West coast offices in New York and Los Angeles respectively even though most sports business happens on the Eastern side of the United States by far. The L.A. office is closer to sports crazy Asia though. Their journalists will come from all over the world as they plan to hire the best and brightest that are not already affiliated with competitors from the likes of ESPN, Sportbusiness (UK based with a US office), The Athletic, and the original player in the space, Sports Business Daily. I mentioned to Scott I was the top, free agent, sports tech journalist ready to be hired!
Soshnick Sports Biz Profile
Soshnick and I are connected on LinkedIn. His first career move was in sports radio as an associate producer at WFAN in New York but like many fellow writers, his initial job after graduating from Syracuse University ended up not being his chosen path. He went to work for Bloomberg News and after 27-years there Scott is considered a deeply respected media member carving out a niche reporting on sports business.
Scott said, “The timing was right at Bloomberg to carve and write my own path and they said yes.” Soshnick was Bloomberg’s lead on sports business eventually co-hosting a Business of Sports radio show then starting a podcast he created. In addition, Scott was a driving force for the Bloomberg power lunch series involving a who’s, who of league commissioners, sport owners and media executives, attorneys and investors, and others. Because of his lengthy tenure and being located in NYC, Scott constantly networked and over time gained the trust and confidence of some of the sports industries most significant power brokers.
Building a Media Team
I honesty had not heard of PMC and instantly thought of former professional race driver, Roger Penske, Chairman of Penske Corporation with a net worth of $1.2 billion. Roger happens to be the Father of Jay Penske, founder of PMC. Jay played lacrosse and hockey at a Michigan high school before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School with a BA. In 2004, Jay began PMC as a digital media play building and hosting software platforms for media companies.
Today, PMC owns and publishes the likes of Rolling Stone, Variety and WWD generating award-winning content for a global audience numbering 240 million. They feature events, data services and publications across a range of topics such as technology, entertainment, retail, fashion, beauty, art and now sports. With offices in 12 countries, this global brand is looked at by more than 1 million CEOs, decision makers and original thinkers for business related opinions.
Jay’s deep interest and involvement in sports also includes his race team Dragon Racing based in LA that he’s run since 2006. GEOX DRAGON is one of the three founding teams of the FIA Formula-E Championship.
“We are truly excited about becoming the preeminent information destination for the $500 billion sports industry,” said PMC Chairman and CEO Jay Penske. “This launch is consistent with Penske Media Corporation’s long record of success in business to business and consumer publishing ventures. Sports enables us to complement our technology, entertainment, art, music, fashion, media and lifestyle properties.”
Glover’s Career Journey
After 30-years of senior level experiences, Glover is a good fit with Sportico because of the diversity of his positions at ESPN, ABC, The Walt Disney company and NASCAR. At Walt Disney, he served ABC and ESPN’s internet businesses at ESPN.com, ABC.com and ABCNews.com as Executive Vice President, Internet and New Media. His role as EVP, Content at ESPN required him to oversee domestic programming and rights acquisitions for all ESPN networks and platforms including the launch and management of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine in addition to the supervision of the retail, licensing and out of home business sectors at ESPN.
Previous to that, Glover was the VP of Broadcasting and New Media for NASCAR. You will be happy to learn that Dick was leaned on for his insights by Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay for the production of the all-time classic comedy film, “Talladega Nights.” He leveraged those relationships and success stories with start-ups, entertainment and production to become the founding President and CEO of the Funny or Die comedy platform as well as holding the dual roles of President and CEO of Mandalay Sports Media.
Soshnick did not know Glover before this venture but after having lunch with him their vision aligned and the opportunity presented itself. He said, “I feel lucky to build something with someone who is ego free and collaborative.”
Scott said, “I believed in the Penske ability to put out digital products in their portfolio.” He added, “My job now, put together a dream team of journalists.” Soshnick believes in, “Surrounding yourself with the best people,” and says he is, “Only as good as the people around me.”
Penske added, “There couldn’t be a better team than Dick and Scott to launch Sportico and provide the leadership needed to create a successful digital media business. The strength of PMC’s financial standing allows us to be in perfect position to launch and rapidly expand this new venture at this unique time.”
Quality Content is King
I did not have much time to prepare for the interview but once it started, I immediately got into the Q&A zone. Scott answered my rapid-fire questioning with ease and impressive insight.
I began by asking about live sports. He said, “Fans used to focus on wins and losses yet now sophisticated fans look for an enriched fan experience.”
Next, I queried him as to how much Sportico would pay attention to sports betting. He replied, “With plenty of attention, it is a huge part of the future of sports both in the play itself and with media holders.” Scott added, “Believe in shareholders, sports holders drive engagement, collect data on customers and provide relatable content.”
I was interested on his biometric data take. He responded, “It is about who owns the data.” He described a last drive of the Super Bowl and how he would want to see heart rate of a quarterback. If it’s beating at 70 beats per minute, then that QB is a cool customer. However, if a defensive back has his racing at 150 beats per minute, that is also telling. On the opposite side, say a QB is going for a winning drive but his heart rate is up around 160 b.p.m. meaning he might be more susceptible to making a mistake and losing the game.
Since we both had gen Z kids, I asked about eSports and video gaming. He said, “Look at what is happening, I am a big believer not an expert in these things but have access to experts.” Soshnick added, “Look who is investing, hard to find franchise owners without capital investment like Ted Leonsis.” He went on to say, “Gaming is young, global and tech savvy while being worldwide.”
I was curious as to his take on the smart stadium. He commented, “What is the roll of the stadium? When you have 20k to 75K sitting next to each other with possible coronavirus, it remains to be seen.” Scott predicted, “TV numbers will skyrocket when sports returns, there is pent up demand.” He noted the live versus inside arena experiences are influenced by COVID-19. Scott finished up saying, “Fans may truly enjoy no traffic and bathrooms without lines. People are scared. Will it go away over time? Stadium owners are thinking about this, fans sitting with other fans.”
Finally, I mentioned the NBA playoffs and whether they would proceed with the threat of COVID-19 in say Las Vegas with no fans in attendance. Scott complimented the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum as not being afraid to fail or take risks. That said, perhaps they will rent cruise ships and convert them into basketball arenas for the NBA playoffs and Finals, if needed (my idea).
Sports Techie, I had just received the press release from PMC yesterday afternoon and responded with my phone number for interview opportunities when just 20 minutes later Scott called me to talk about Sportico. I mentioned my son was in the background and he was very gracious saying he understood as he also has a young son. When I mentioned that my boy was on the autism spectrum Scott told me he believed it was World Autism Day. I was not aware of this fact and after researching I found out the United Nation declared in 2017 that April 2 is to be World Autism Awareness Day. My gratitude goes out to Scott for pointing this out to me.
Scott told me he is a believer in exclusive content, breaking news and access to storylines which leads to new ideas.
Since we live in the video generation, I wanted to know how much of Sportico’s content will be videos. He says they will generate video, podcasts and live media. How much is yet to be determined.
It seems like education may be a good fit so I asked whether they plan to offer accredited educational opportunities to students. He answered that is yet to be determined as well.
The concept of a sports business community that is willing to sign up and subscribe is what drives him forward with this exciting venture.
Sportico wants to be the daily destination for professionals in sports biz. They are on their way indeed thanks to PMC, Dick and Scott.
See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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