Rising star: Checking out strategic sports goals with TikTok’s global head of sports partnerships Rollo Goldstaub

[Source: Mediapro]

TikTok has been hailed as the most important third party media platform for the global sports industry according to IMG’s Digital Trends Report 2024, romping ahead of YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. SVG Europe had a chat with TikTok’s Rollo Goldstaub, global head of sports partnerships, to find out about this rising star’s strategic goals in the realm of sports.

How has TikTok worked with the sports broadcasting industry over the last couple of years, and how are you seeing it ramp up internally?

The point we’ve got to now is where the vast majority of all sports organisations and a large amount of athletes are all on TikTok. So the journey over the past five years, as the platform’s existed, has been working with those different organisations, leagues, federations, clubs, and all the different range of sports to help them come onto TikTok, and educating them on how the platform works, but really to explain to them the big difference and why TikTok has such a powerful audience, growth, and generation, and quite unique community.

We also want to give those partners the right tools and the right information to succeed on the platform. When I talk about that unique community or difference, it’s really all about co-creation on TikTok, and it’s more than just putting your highlights somewhere.

We think official rights are brilliant and they do really well on TikTok, but it’s about all of the different behind the scenes stuff, the characters of the athletes involved in the sports, the diets, how the training facilities work, the chef making the meals. It’s all of that really interesting rich information which can perform so well.

So over the years we’ve been educating those partners and encouraging them to invest their time into uploading content to TikTok.

TikTok’s Rollo Goldstaub, head of sport for the UK, Ireland and Nordics

You are getting a lot of federations and clubs launching on TikTok and having fantastic success if they do it right. So do you talk to them at all, as in advise them?

Yes, so globally, at each local market, we’ll have a partnerships team and there will be sports specialists who will be an account manager to these important sporting organisations. Right from the beginning we’ll help them onboard. Then we will give advice, and help them with a wide range of any kind of operational matters that they need support with. But give them best practises, creative strategy, and really make sure they’re set up for success. So there’ll be an individual person in teams working with various stakeholders.

There are a lot more clubs, federations, et al, going on to TikTok. The bigger ones went on first because there is a price to providing content for your platform, but a lot of smaller ones are going for it now. People are seeing huge uplift in people viewing clips. What do you see from your side with people coming on board from smaller sports groups?

From a club perspective, I think over 95% of all the English Football League teams are on TikTok. So it really is nothing new by now. It’s something where we work really closely and support a wide range of teams.

“Sports is a key vertical for the business. It’s a top five category. And it’s been a major priority for us, with partnerships over the last few years with the men’s Euros, with the World Cup, Women’s World Cup, Six Nations”

That also goes down to the lower leagues with more semi-pro clubs, like Hashtag United FC, who found great success on the platform, attracting global audiences. When it comes to supporting those teams, again, as much as I’ve mentioned things like best practise and optimisation strategy, we’ll also make sure they’re aware of the latest trends which are going on TikTok.

We saw recently that Sky Sports, for example, has done very well engaging with various trends. There was a brilliant example of it with a yearbook trend where you showed a photo of yourself now, and it showed you a version of what you would look like if it was your college or school yearbook.

Sky did that with their main presenters, like Micah Richards or Gary Neville. So the same for the clubs; we’ll make sure they’re aware of what the latest trends are, what community and products they can use on TikTok.

There are various ways to easily create content. It’s an investment in time, but there are features like Stitch and Duet, which allow you to place your video next to someone else’s and react and really be part of the community.

So over the years, we’ve made sure that we were available as a company to those teams to give them the best possible tools really to succeed.

Do you want to grow more in sports, attracting more people putting sports broadcasting content on TikTok?

Yeah. Sports is a key vertical for the business. It’s a top five category. And it’s been a major priority for us, with partnerships over the last few years with the men’s Euros, with the World Cup, Women’s World Cup, Six Nations. And then for this year, for the Olympics, we’re really proud to be a partner of Team GB and Paralympics GB.

All of these strategic decisions show how important sports is. And then globally we will have partnerships with UFC, with exclusive live content, or the recent TikTok Tailgate at the Super Bowl with the NFL. These are all clear signs to the industry that sports is a major priority.

What does it bring to you?

The priority and what it brings to us, what’s critical, is the premium rights content, whether that’s from the Premier League down to golfing tournaments or tennis. It’s really important that when someone comes to TikTok and searches and wants to find something specific, that we want to make sure that user gets what they’re looking for. So if they are a Whickham FC fan or a Chelsea fan, if they search for their team they find their club account and they find the great content with the athletes, then my team’s done a great job in the partnerships area.

“It doesn’t necessarily come down to working with just one broadcaster or federation; it comes down to trying to grow overall sports as a whole on the platform”

It brings us that official rights IP, fandom, and drives this creative community. Because you have lots of users or creators who are making sports-related content, and it’s even more rich and engaging when the official rights holders are in that mix with the creators and the fans.

Sure. And what about the small clubs and federations?

It really depends. But the main thing we do have is online resources which have those best practises, which can be shared or accessed by any kind of sporting organisation. We also have a trends report you can sign up for, which will give you the latest trends week by week that someone running that social media and account can then engage with.

There is a lot of really accessible information to help any organisation grow. That’s something we definitely pride ourselves in and want to continue doing and continue improving.

And then last one for you; strategically, what can we expect to see from TikTok in the sports broadcast area? The rest of the year, obviously you’ve got the Olympic contract, and that’s really cool. But going forwards, is there anything you are particularly aiming for?

So it’s a huge year for sports. I think there are four really obvious tournaments that we’re going to be working on. So the Olympics, Paralympics, the Euros and Copa America. For those four we’ll have various different partnerships globally and different things we’re working on.

I know in the UK we have that partnership with Team GB and Paralympics GB, which spans those two non-footballing tournaments. And so with those, the key focus will be around working with the National Olympic Committee, but also the national governing bodies of those individual sports. So that’s where we will get to work with the table tennis’s or the judo’s or swimming and go really broad on a wide range of sports, which get less of a spotlight outside of these key moments.

Also, at the time we’ll have a really big focus on the athletes. So we know from the Tokyo Olympics that the Athletes Village was a real hotspot of amazing content coming from athletes, sharing what the experience was like in Tokyo, and reaching a global audience.

You wouldn’t necessarily expect but one of the biggest successes from the Tokyo Olympics was an American female rugby player [Ilona Maher]. You wouldn’t put that nation and that sport together to create one of the most successful TikTok accounts. You might pick an athletics competitor or something else. So it really shows that it’s about the personality, the character, and showing the real part of what it’s like to be an athlete that can help.

In terms of this year our priority is those four tournaments, and then as a whole helping develop individual sports growth. So it might be looking at golf or cricket or cycling, and really having an extra emphasis on increasing content supply of that one sport, but also making sure that we reach a large demand as well.

It doesn’t necessarily come down to working with just one broadcaster or federation; it comes down to trying to grow overall sports as a whole on the platform.

Create Share Engage 2024, sponsored by Appear, is a one-day event for sports federations, leagues, associations, clubs and other rights owners, as well as broadcasters, agencies and producers, that will focus on creating and distributing sports content, and engaging fans, across social media, streaming and other digital platforms.
For more information and to register click here 


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