Entering into a joint venture with sports video producer CineSport, will give Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment the opportunity to take a shot at the increasingly lucrative digital video arena, the company said on Friday.
The division of Van Wagner Communications, which also supplies outdoor signage, provides services including in-game and TV-visible sports signage and sponsorships. As part of the joint venture, it took a seven-figure minority stake in CineSport. Together, the companies plan to focus on selling a variety of sponsorships and advertising opportunities to national and regional advertisers.
“While we’ve been involved with many integrated media sales with strong digital components, we had never had an extensive standalone digital offering,” says Cliff Kaplan, president and chief executive at Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment Group. “As CineSport was building scale and amassing a significant audience, the last part of the puzzle they were trying to put together was ad sales and sponsorships.”
CineSport already produces and syndicates original sports video programming, highlights and news, as well as premium content, to distribution partners in 20 of the nation’s top 30 DMAs. It provides technology that lets editors integrate video content contextually into legacy newspaper content management systems. For example, an editor can embed a CineSport game highlight into the right-hand rail of a story about the game.
” We don’t see the future of video consumption as going to a video page. If you’re going to a story about the Boston Bruins and Rangers game, you want the text, the photo and the video there,” says Gregg Winik, chief executive and founder of CineSport
Van Wagner will hire digital sales staff to complement CineSport’s internal sales staff of three. “With the power in the marketplace that Van Wagner has … we have a speed to market we could not have done on our own,” Winik says.
While Van Wagner’s roots are in TV-visible signage, it has sold digital online advertising, as well. There will be synergies with the company’s existing advertising and sponsorship sales activities, according to Kaplan. For example, Van Wagner owns the game highlights rights of the NBA. Kaplan says, “We have a big network of NBA teams across which we control TV-visible signage, so [with the joint venture], we can create bigger, broader, more integrated ad platforms for sponsors.”
Kaplan says the number of advertisers the joint venture can secure and the positions they’re buying will be more important than total ad revenue as the partnership ramps up. He wants to sell ongoing sponsorships of such things as morning sports highlights, a full season or a year-long position.
Winik says the opportunity is huge. A survey of male sports fans aged 18 to 54 conducted by the Newspaper National Network found that 76 percent of them preferred to get sports news, information and analysis from a local newspaper website. While CineSport already works with some 100 newspaper sites, Winik says, “There are thousands of local news sites, and their combined audience is bigger than Yahoo, ESPN or MSN. It’s a different way to get to sports fans.”