Building upon dedicated in-house resources across Switzerland, Italy and France, international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media – which is integrated with IRONMAN as part of the recently formed entity Wanda Sports Holding – acquired one of the leading digital service firms, Omnigon, in early 2016 to grow its footprint in this domain.
Today the digital innovation team is a group of more than 300 specialists in 10 offices around the globe. With major hubs in France, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine, the US and UK, Infront seeks to ensure proximity and in-depth market understanding to all its partners.
Teaming up in key segments
With access to this combined pool of talent, the Infront digital team now consists of product managers, engineers, digital strategists, user interface experts, researchers and content creators working exclusively within the sports and entertainment industry.
These experts strategize, design and develop ground-breaking digital solutions that help partners captivate fans and achieve their strategic and commercial goals. This is accomplished by delivering services across three key segments of the sports industry:
- Content production: Infront’s digital team creates, designs and delivers relevant and attention-grabbing sports event content that emotionally connects with today’s fans. This includes delivery of the international feed and surrounding programming for rights holders of major global events and the broadcast, digital and social media feeds for over 60 partners across the annual season of their sports. Infront produces highlights for FIS World Cup competitions and for the upcoming season will produce and deliver near-live highlights following all races on FIS official platforms. For the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Russia, Infront developed a full content strategy and produced all digital content – including 260 videos and multiple apps, games, brackets and user generated content campaigns.
- Digital innovation: Through its digital innovation and execution arm, Infront captivates and engages millions of sports fans around the world through sophisticated direct-to-consumer solutions and is delivering new audiences and revenue for its clients. Areas of expertise include website and app development, OTT platforms and UX/UI design. Examples include the design and development of all-new native mobile iOS and Android apps for FC Bayern München, the concept, build and re-design of the Formula E website and the The Rugby Channel, a subscription-based OTT service offering exclusive live and on-demand coverage of top-tier domestic and international rugby matches. Platforms include mobile-responsive websites and native iOS and Android mobile apps, with apps for tablets and other connected devices.
- New monetisation assets: Infront develops and manages unique and scalable digital assets for consumers and sponsors, leveraging video, data and integrated graphics. Sponsors can effectively associate their brands with sports to drive awareness and sales, while fans benefit from an immersive and integrated experience. For the DFB Cup, Infront’s digital team built a state-of-the art user experience, with gamification, personalisation, and unique stats visualisations in native apps with seamless sponsorship integration, creating a better association of brands with the property.
Digitally transforming winter sports
With the use of mobile devices and social platforms steadily becoming the primary source to consume sports, Infront helps its partners stay at the forefront of the digital world, while broadening and extending interaction with fans. Particularly, Infront’s strength in the winter sports market has led to numerous opportunities to provide captivating and engaging offerings for rights-holders, sponsors and fans. Partnering with all seven Olympic winter sport federations, Infront provides key federations and sports properties such as FIS (skiing), IIHF (ice hockey), IBSF (bobsleigh & skeleton) and CHL (ice hockey) with professional advice and solutions to leverage the digital space to reach and monetise new audiences.
Bruno Marty, Executive Director Winter Sports at Infront, says “Many of our long-standing partners in winter sports started approaching us as their trusted advisor to help them engage their fan base on a new level. Together we jointly developed a range of platforms, content and digital solutions that allow sponsors to emotionally connect to the next generation of fans, while giving fans themselves a more enriching experience.”
Embracing the future
Having a strong digital footprint will no longer just be a ‘nice to have’, but a critical element to the success of sports events and federations.
Executive Director of Digital, Production & Sport Solutions at Infront, Claude Ruibal, explains, “There is a strong demand for digital expertise in the sports industry and rights holders need a path forward to effectively navigate the complexities. We have established a proven and comprehensive consultation process that delivers a clear and tailored digital roadmap for client success. From strategy to implementation, we help our partners to rapidly monetise their sport.”
Infront Sports & Media manages a comprehensive portfolio of properties. Led by President & CEO Philippe Blatter, Infront covers all aspects of sporting events – including distribution of media rights, sponsorship, media production and event operation. As the number one player in winter sport and with a leading role in football, summer and endurance sports, Infront adds that it enjoys long-lasting partnerships with 170 rights-holders and hundreds of sponsors and media companies.
Headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, Infront has a team of more than 900 experienced staff working from over 35 offices across more than 15 countries, delivering 4,100 event days of sport around the world every year. In November 2015, Infront was integrated into Wanda Sports Holding, part of the Chinese conglomerate the Dalian Wanda Group.