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Inspiring young girls around the world through journeys of female athletes, especially in markets like Middle East and North Africa; maintaining authenticity from the pandemic when it comes to content creation; and leveraging opportunities across all areas in the sports industry.

Andrea Ekblad, Partnerships & Head of Women’s Sport at beIN SPORTS, shared her insights about the growth, broadcasters’ role and sustainability of women’s sports, utilizing the global platform beIN SPORTS has through projects like beINSPIRED, and getting more women involved in sports.

Andrea, a working mum with over 10 years of experience in the sports industry, has worked for prestigious organizations such as FIBA, the International Olympic Committee and beIN SPORTS. From commercial partnerships, to digital content creation, building a women in sport network and events. Having established the commercial partnerships department at the global sports broadcaster, she is the primary contact to organizations such as Premier League, LaLiga, NBA, IOC, UEFA, FIFA and Wimbledon.

Among other topics, she discusses the role of broadcasters in women’s football, her most recent project under the women’s sports project, “beINSPIRED”, with Nadia Nadim and advice on how to advance in the sports industry. Here you have the main takeaways from the interview:

  • The beINSPIRED Podcast. beIN started to create digital content of women’s football last summer by hosting a daily show with Nadia Nadim around the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The beINSPIRED Podcast is the latest project, producing a podcast series that aims to amplify some of the most inspiring voices in women’s sports: top athletes who are not only inspiring on-, but also off the pitch. Hosted by Carrie Brown, the first female chair of the Football Writers’ Association, the podcast series allow these messages to reach gloabally with sports and life lessons.
  • Inspiring globally, across diverse markets. beIN SPORTS brought the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 to more countries than any other sports broadcaster, and had a record-breaking viewership of 27 million in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to an extensive broadcast coverage with studio analysts, pre- and post-match shows, they produced a digital show with 26 episodes in 26 matchdays. An impact leveraged to expose the women’s game in markets where it could particularly have a positive effect, like the Middle East.
  • First maximum exposure, then moving it behind a paywall. According to Andrea, it’s very important to recognise the value of what free-to-air broadcasters provide the vital visibility that women’s sports and women’s football need nowadays to build interest among fans. On the other hand, pay-TV broadcasters involvement will become significant to generate more revenues, and eventually to make the game self-sustainable.
  • Changing behaviors during the pandemic. It’s interesting to see the shift as to the way fans are consuming sports and broadcasters are using remote recording tools: first they had to find the most suitable software for remote production, like Zoom. Andrea identifies this fan attitude as an opportunity: to leverage accessibility of players, and creating more authentic, honest, relaxed content, which she believes will stay even after life returning to ‘normal’. from now on. In her experience it has been interesting to see that fans have adapted to consuming less-polished, lower broadcast quality content that is more authentic, and engaging at the end.
  • Some key ingredients for success. Following her experience in different roles at FIBA, IOC and beIN SPORTS, Andrea described important skills like: being knowledgeable of your industry, market awareness, creativity, great people’s skills and the ability to connect to others are all key to build a career in the commercial & marketing field. Networking is also key, and so is analyzing the company you work for, identifying who the key stakeholders are, and looking at opportunities by studying current and future challenges in the industry. 
  • Getting more women in sports. Being a working, single mum in the sports industry, Andrea wants to set an example to others that pursuing a career in sports is possible. She acknowledges that there are challenges yet to overcome, but she is also on a mission to positively change the industry to enable more women to start and also remain in the sports industry, even after starting a family. Andrea believes and invites sports stakeholders to reflect on the pandemic and see it as an opportunity to develop more flexible working environments to encourage more women to get involved and equally to employers to retain female talent.

A true enthusiast about following our own beliefs to create projects that make us feel fulfilled. She found in biographies a good way of growing her knowledge and inspiration, recommending “Becoming” from Michelle Obama, “Let my people go surfing” from Yvon Chouinard and “Work like a woman”, from Mary Portas.

You can find these and many more insights in the following interview, sharing Andrea’s most valuable lessons about sports, beIN SPORTS, partnerships and life:

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