Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Head of Sports and Esports at 7F, Trev Keane.
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I am currently Head of Sports and Esports at 7F. 7F is an influencer first fan engagement platform aimed to reconnect global sports fans with tribal social competition and gamification.
I also consult and advise esports teams including NFG Esports, owned by Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs, and Munster Rugby Gaming, a league of legends team, owned by, you guessed it, Munster Rugby.
I am also a founding board member of the Irish gaming and esports federation, a not-for-profit governing body with the aim of putting structure around esports in Ireland.
Prior to that I worked with Sportego, a data driven fan engagement company. We worked with a lot of rights holders across sport, helping them understand and visual their data, engage and gamify their fans and drive revenue.
What do you do in your current role?
All my roles focus on strategic operations and partnerships. I look at how the esports teams I work with can develop strategic partnerships, such as the one Munster Rugby did with the League of Legends teams.
I look at how 7F will position itself in the market upon launch and what partners we will need to deliver success. I look at smart content partnerships, sponsorships, and opportunities for the teams I support. I am also working on established a governing body for esports from the ground up. It has been exciting to put the foundations in place.
What does a normal week look like for you?
A normal week. It is hard to describe. It can be numerous things. One day you could be preparing players for tournaments, the next working on content plans and activations for partners and it be project managing the latest developments for 7F.
It can involve discussions with right holders on how they use gaming to reach audiences or exploring ways that Ireland esports can protect children playing games online.
In 2019 for example I worked on the front of shirt sponsorship for NFG. This was featured in the EA FIFA 20 game for download. To date it has featured in 6 million FIFA games.
It does involve a lot of calls and right now, lots of Zoom calls. My phone is never far from me. Working across Ireland, UK, USA and Australia can you find that some days are a 7am start and a 11pm finish.
Unlike traditional sport where the focus is a weekly or biweekly game, with esports, there are some many publishers and titles that it depends on what the teams are involved with.
In addition to that I host a lot of panels on esports discussions. Given the experience I have in this space I feel that I can get the best out of panellists and gleam real insights for an audience. They also help me of course and they put me front and central in the esports conversation.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
Originally, I studied Finance and Accounting. I worked in the financial services industry for 14 years, across three countries. It was great and I learned a lot, but I always wanted to work in sport. My career in sport started in 2009 which I wrote a book called Gaffers, 50 years of football managers. It was about all the men that had led the republic of Ireland men’s national team since the country became a republic in 1953.
I did a follow up book on one of the subjects, Dave Langan (ex-Oxford City). I realised during that time the power of social media (it was not behemoth it is now) so I studied digital marketing and communication. I travelled around the UK visiting every club I could to understand their challenges, and set about setting up Sportego, with two brilliant men, James Dickens, and Colm O’Mealoid.
We had an excellent couple of years, we worked with some great sports clients, did some cool things and were nominated for some awards but in the end, it didn’t work out. I am very proud of the work that Sportego did and the niche we carved into the market at the time.
Since then I have worked on numerous projects as a consultant with 7F and in my private consultancy. It has been really interesting, challenging and exciting.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
The sports space has had a difficult couple of months due to the pandemic but what has impressed me is how they have adapted. From Zoom walls at clubs, to creating an atmosphere with piped in sound, to a focus on gaming and esports, clubs from all disciplines have shown a desire to innovate. That has impressed me a lot.
I think the growth in esports across all titles has been impressive and I am having lots of conversations with brands and teams exploring this space. I think teams have realised they need to future proof their brand and esports is certainly a strategy to explore in that case.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Those that cannot play, teach. A different application of this would be, if you can’t get a role within a sports club, see if there are roles in the organisations that support it and build up experience that way.
How to follow Trev Keane on social media…
You can follow me on Twitter @Trevkeane and on LinkedIn. 7F will be up and running in the coming weeks so keep an eye on that – it will go live on my LinkedIn. If you are interested in esports reach out. Check out NFG, Munster Rugby Gaming and Tundra esports across their channels.
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Head of Sports and Esports at 7F, Trev Keane!