Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Head of Commercial Content for Southern Europe at DAZN, Maurizio Scalari!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I’m Maurizio Scalari and I’m the Head of Commercial Content for Southern Europe at DAZN. I started to work in the digital world in 2001 at Yahoo, where I stayed for 15 years covering different roles for Sports and Finance. I started as Product Manager for the Italian market and my last role was Product Operations Manager for all the international versions. For a long period I also managed the editorial operations teams in Italy taking care of information (Sports, News and Finance) and entertainment (Movies, Music and Lifestyle) sites.
After that experience I worked for Dugout, as regional manager for Italy, managing the relationships with the clubs on the platform (Juventus, AC Milan, Inter, Napoli, AS Roma and Bologna), working with their digital teams to create the content published on the platform.
I finally moved to DAZN in June 2018, when we launched the service in the Italian market.
What do you do in your current role?
The focus of my role is to create opportunities for our sales team ensuring that for every client we offer the best content solution. In line with their objectives. This can be a branded content on our platform, a campaign on our Youtube channel, a special project on our network of publishers, just to mention a few of the options that are available on our portfolio.
What does a normal week look like for you?
What I like most in my job is that weeks always look different, based on what’s in our pipeline both on the commercial and content side. Of course there are regular tasks like managing the editorial plan for our DAZN Player (a 100% sports video player that we distribute to more than 40 Italian publishers) or taking care of weekly and monthly reports for the different properties that I manage.
Then there are other activities that happens on a weekly basis like helping sales to answer to a client brief or prepare presentations about new formats available on our platform and for our off platform network.
Finally, I also spend time following news and insights about the sports digital industry and the advertising market, to ensure that we are always up-to-date and ready to anticipate trends and opportunities.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
Well, when I was at university I didn’t imagine that Sports would have been my work. I studied political science in Milan and my dream was to have a diplomatic career or work for an international organization. Then, while I was completing my dissertation I had the chance to start an internship at Yahoo!, within the surfers team. It was 2001 and before Google became the standard way for people to search contents on web Yahoo! had a great directory of thousands of sites reviewed by the surfer team. In the team I took care of of reviewing sports, political and institutional sites and one year later I got the opportunity to become the product manager for Yahoo! Sports for Italy.
Sports has been a passion for me since I was I child and I remember writing sports articles for my own journal when I was around 10 years old but I never imagined that my life would have been so linked to sports. Years later some of my dreams became real…Meeting champions that were my idols, like Roberto Baggio or be in some of the more iconic stadiums in the world like Wembley, San Siro or the Olympiastadion in Berlin. I must say that I’m very lucky to work in this world because I can combine my knowledge with a true passion and it’s not something so common.
What’s been your favourite moment whilst working in sports?
There have been several great experiences during the 19 years of my career but I would say that the best one was in 2006. At that time i was the product manager for the Italian version of fifaworldcup.com, the official World Cup site born from a partnership between Yahoo! And FIFA. I worked on this product for around 1 year, covering everything about the tournament from the group stage draws in Leipzig to the final in Berlin. I spent a couple of months working the media centre in Berlin, outside the Olympiastadion and I got the chance to work with great professionals from my company and from FIFA, coming from every part of the world and I learned so much that i’m still so grateful for this experience.
The days were very long and stressing but the satisfaction for what we accomplished doesn’t have a price. Then, add to that we became World Champions, it was the perfect final for this story!
What do you think is next for your industry?
The sports world is in a very difficult moment due to the effects of Covid-19 which is accelerating some changes that were already in place and forcing clubs and athletes to adapt to a new situation that was completely unexpected. So it’s pretty difficult to predict what’s next but I want to signal some trends that I consider very important to follow. Sports will be more and more consumed through OTT that are disrupting the market and challenging the traditional media ecosystem.
Right now as a sports fan the number of contents that is available to me is greater than ever, but, on the other side, my time is the same as before so making choices is hard. We are moving to an individual content diet where everyone can pick the best from several sources and not depending on a fixed programming defined by television. This a great opportunity for clubs and athletes as they can speak directly to their fans creating contents thanks to their media houses or with the support of agencies and communication experts
Then I’m very attracted from the development of new technologies that are affecting every side of sports life, like training, match analysis, fan engagement tools or smart arenas devices. There are a lot of great startups that are doing an amazing job and they can bring innovation in a sector that was almost the same for years.
But even with all these changes I think that sports should not forget why it’s so important for people. It’s all about PASSION and we need to use the power of storytelling to keep this passion alive.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
I want to quote Josè Mourinho: “Who knows only about football, knows nothing about football”. So if you want to work in the sports industry you need to learn a lot of different topics, ranging from communication to finance, marketing to psychology. You need to know about history and understand the culture that is behind a sports, a club or an athletes. You need to be open minded and study every day. Our industry and our society is changing so fast that you must be up-to-date if you don’t want to become irrelevant very easily.
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Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Head of Commercial Content for Southern Europe at DAZN, Maurizio Scalari!