Office Hours: Peter Hutton on Facebook’s Next Step In Sports

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Welcome to a new episode of Office Hours: a podcast where Front Office Sports CEO Adam White has a discussion with figures from throughout the sports industry centered around three basic questions. Those questions are “What’s on your mind today?”, “What are you excited about?”, and “Any big ideas or theories you want to share?”

Peter Hutton is the current Director of Sports Partnerships at Facebook. Previously, he spent just over three years as the CEO of Eurosport. Hutton joins White in today’s episode to chat about the tech giant’s strengths and opportunities in the sports space, being a seasoned world traveller, and preparing for the future.

Edited highlights appear below:

On Facebook working and growing their relationship with athletes (14:47)

Hutton: “We’ve got teams of people who work specifically with athletes to talk about best practices on the platform, how they can grow their fan base, how they can potentially commercialize that fan base. And I think that’s definitely something that we’ll look at more and more. That’s a worldwide phenomenon. You know, it’s cricketers in India, it’s Lewis Hamilton in the UK, it’s NFL stars here. I think that’s a really interesting area. That idea that you can talk directly to your favorite athlete, I think, is a wonderful thing.

On knowing Facebook is in a good spot (36:39)
Hutton: “The fundamental part for being part of this industry is that you’re part of a growth story. And you know, I’ve been through sort of all these different companies on a very winding route to get there. Some of them have definitely not been growth stories…Facebook’s not like that. It’s clearly a growth business. It’s one which is looking to the future, investing in technology, things like Portal and Oculus. It’s tremendous to be around the sort of engineers who are building that and therefore to be part of that energy, to be part of that sense of where we’re a future looking company I think is really important and really sort of enlightening.”

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On growth opportunities for Facebook Sports (37:17)

Hutton: “I think you look at the technology and the doors the technology is opening up. So you look at things like Messenger, WhatsApp, or Oculus. You look at where that can take the sports industry and find that connection between what Facebook is building and what the sports industry needs. And if we can help find the middle ground that works for both organizations, then that’s a good place to be.”

On the biggest issues that teams hope Facebook can help them solve (39:00)
Hutton: “The first thing is really audience development. We often go with really long presentations of all the book things that we can open. And the number one factor is how do we find our next audience? And that’s the right thing for a sports organization because you’ve permanently got to be looking at how you engage with younger demographics, with worldwide demographics, how you spread your fan base and therefore prepare better for the future. So we do offer up lots of different business solutions, whether it be branded content or commerce and conversion, but fundamentally audience development is the number one thing that I think we can help with.”

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