Sebastian Gray is Co-Founder and Senior Vice President, Dugout, a media company which works with football clubs, leagues and federations to help repackage, distribute and monetize their video content. We caught up with Gray to find out about his typical day.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
We’re a digital media company owned by 10 of the world’s biggest football clubs, and we create and distribute video content using current and archive footage. We work in partnership with 100+ clubs, national football federations and leagues, helping them engage with their digital fanbase via a network of premium global publishers.
As a co-founder I end up wearing many hats, whether it be communicating with clubs, helping our ad partners, or developing our product, most importantly it’s working with a great team.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
Having no commute has had a big impact, and provided me with additional time to do other things. I start the day with a run or pilates, then a coffee and calls with South East Asia, before a daily meeting with our leads for clubs, publishers and advertisers. We set out tasks and objectives, and tackle any issues on a daily basis to keep our rapid growth.
Before the pandemic I used to spend 2-3 days each week on a plane, travelling to various meetings around the world. We’re seeing a lot of efficiencies across the business with less travelling and I think this will have a longer-term impact on the way we work.
Still, nothing beats a face-to-face meeting and a personal relationship.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
One obvious tool that we’re all relying on right now is video calls. I prefer video to voice; audio is great but without face-to-face meetings, video has become so important.
In terms of techniques, I believe it’s good to understand what we are trying to achieve from a practical point of view in the next week, in the next month, and in the longer term, so we can accelerate the growth of the company. My other personal action point is that at 5pm on Sunday, I clear my emails and plan for the following week.
I also have a number of apps, custom built feeds and tools set up so I can keep up-to-date with the news.There is so much great personal technology to support you today.
Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?
Outside of football, which has innovated in many areas, Formula 1 has been phenomenal in the sports sector. They have maintained a strong presence across all different mediums, getting drivers and teams involved, and embracing esports with the eGrand Prix. It’s really impressive when you consider the size of the sport, and the way they have had to postpone races. The football clubs and publishers we work with have also impressed me with their willingness to try new things in the absence of live matches.
Others have stood out for their community spirit in response to the crisis. Brands such as Brewdog and LVMH put their facilities to good use to provide the public with much-needed hand sanitisers. Chelsea F.C. took a different route by lending rooms to NHS staff in its Stamford Bridge-based hotel. And there have many more honourable examples of generosity; far too many to list here.
What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
We live our lives at a certain pace, and we consume content at the same pace. Covid-19 has been forcing people to stay at home, and so they have more time to look for content and their dwell time is also longer. At Dugout we’re reflecting these changes in behaviour patterns by providing longer form, more nourishing content that triggers emotional connections, because people have more patience to absorb those moments.
What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?
When the Bundesliga came back, we saw a much needed spike in traffic as fans got to see live matches again. However it’s a new product without fans in the stadium so there are some adjustments to be made. The emphasis is very much on securing audience time when sports fans are looking to be entertained, but there is not a lot of live content. As a result there’s been a move towards content diversity, new strands, docuseries.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
I would say understand your customer and value proposition. If you have something you can offer that provides value to the customer over this period, then now is the time to target this. There are many great apps that have seen huge downloads; whether that’s for fitness, socialising, or gaming. Businesses have been forced to innovate, but it all starts with a clear message of value proposition to your customer.
What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?
Our main objective is always our customers – whether that’s a fan, club, publisher or brand – it’s about how Dugout can provide the best service for them. We’ve recently announced some exciting new global partnerships with publishers Suning, Onefootball and Sports Illustrated, and we’re also working with Verizon Media on the brand side. Because the core of our business is premium football video, Covid-19 hasn’t changed our long-term strategy, it has just helped us focus on where the most valuable parts of our ecosystem are.
Our anchor is ‘what do fans want?’ and ‘How do we service that?’.
For more on coping with the crisis, visit Econsultancy’s coronavirus hub page.