Feb 8 • 22M

🔥 Upside Chat: Chelsey Rushworth, SVP Sales, LiveLike (leading engagement platform for sports and entertainment)

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This week, we had the honor to interview Chelsey Rushworth, Senior Vice President of Global Sales at LiveLike, a leading engagement platform for sports and entertainment.

LiveLike is a technology company dedicated to empowering digital experiences that enable deeper fan engagement, increased retention rates, and new monetization opportunities. LiveLike’s audience engagement platform and gamification engine helps top sports organizations and media companies to enhance the fan experience, increase the time spent interacting with their content, and unlock the power of first-party data. Through customized interactive and social features, LiveLike has connected fans to some of the biggest live events around the world, from the Super Bowl, FIFA World Cup, and NCAA March Madness, to concerts, festivals, and the U.S. presidential debates. Additionally, the company is actively expanding into new industries, bringing its technology to edtech, fintech, e-commerce, and publishing, with more to come. Headquartered in New York, LiveLike also has offices in India, Europe, and Canada, with staff located worldwide. For more information about LiveLike technology, partnerships and more, visit www.livelike.com.

Picture: LiveLike, 2022.

Here is a video that highlights some of LiveLike’s capabilities:

Video: LiveLike, 2022

📝Show Notes: Throughout this interview, we touched on Chelsey’s career path, her experience working at LiveLike, some of the work the LiveLike team has done for major sports organizations (Warriors/NBA, Canal+, NASCAR, etc.), the benefits for teams using the LiveLike platform, the future of the NFT space, and Chelsey’s plans for the next 12 months.

🚀Best Quotes: Here are some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Chelsey:

  • On Chelsey’s career history: “I started out working in the sports industry, right out of college, for the Phoenix Suns in the NBA. I was in the ticket sales program. I'm dating myself, but it was a great time to be there. It was the days of Steve Nash. So, I started there and had a great experience. From a sales perspective, they were the best of the best in terms of training. I learned a lot of my sales skills there and  from there, I pivoted my career and went into advertising. I then worked for AOL and then  moved to Yahoo and then Verizon. It was really interesting seeing the evolution of how we see advertising, especially in the digital space with video and connected TVs. There was so much going on in that space that I saw an opportunity with video and how it was monetized. Therefore, I made a transition to my most recent role prior to LiveLike at a company called InPlayer based out of London. They were a video monetization and subscription management platform.”

  • On how Chelsey ended up working for LiveLike: “I was a CRO at InPlayer for two years. During that time we partnered with LiveLike. We saw a huge opportunity- if we were powering monetization in video form, it made sense to have an engagement tool that could really help our clients as well because we worked a lot with sports clients. So, we partnered with LiveLike. I quickly got really close working with the LiveLike team, and seeing their SDK and their CMS, I realized that they were onto something very innovative and special in the space. From building a relationship with the team and seeing what they were doing, it made sense to make a move over and transition from InPlayer over to LiveLike.”

  • On LiveLike and its products: “What we are at our core is a developer toolkit, geared towards product managers, content creators and marketing teams. What that means is we give a gamification engine that drives interactivity, community, loyalty and rewards. We do that through features such as chat. For example, we offer public chat, private chat and an influencer chat. So for influence chat, if a sports player came on and was moderating the chat fans could watch his commentary on the match. Aside from our chat features, we have what we call our widgets, which include things like polls, quizzes and cheer meters. Then we tie it all together with points, virtual currency, rewards, badges and leaderboards. The beauty of it is that we are not a white label solution. Our whole premise is that we want our clients, sports organizations and media companies to build their own experience so it makes sense for them and for their fans.”

  • On how LiveLike clients such as the Warriors (NBA) use their platform: “We work with the Golden State Warriors. They've seen almost 3X time spent on their mobile application from utilizing gamification. They've seen around 13X site visits per user. The statistic itself shows that when you're driving the right behavior, you're creating your own fandom. You're also engaging users who are enjoying it especially with leaderboards and creating your own points system. It's exciting. People are innately competitive so if there's a way that they can win points, and with those points redeem them for swag or a special viewing party with the commissioner of a league, it's motivating and it's exciting. We’re allowing teams to create these communities within themselves-  with friends and others. It's a really great way for sports organizations to truly connect with their fans outside of the stadium.”

  • On the benefits of using the LiveLike platform: “The core thing that we say in terms of engaging your fans is to create a fandom by connecting with them at a deeper level and we can do that. But at the end of the day, being able to monetize these things, and being able to make money off of that is very important. What we've found is that we power monetization capabilities and we do that through sponsorship activations, betting integrations, and interactive advertising. The way we're able to do that is that within our CMS everything is customizable. So, for example, if you were having an influencer chat with a former player, who's moderating the game as it's going on, you could have a sponsor come monitor that chat.”

  • On how LiveLike can help their clients build a customized experience and bring in sponsors as part of the process: “I think what's nice with what we offer is it's not a white-label solution, and everything is customizable, we have a lot of organizations come up with ideas of, ‘Hey, this brand is a major partner of ours, and you walk in their stadium and see it plastered everywhere, but how do we engage them and get them to do more and get excited about it?’. That's where I put my advertising hat on, and it's like, okay, how can we get creative here and have their sponsorship teams be able to sell something that is a little bit more exciting, a little sexier and will actually drive revenue for both the sponsor and the organization?”

  • On the types of sports organizations LiveLike works with: “We work with Chelsea FC. Some of the leagues that we work with are La Liga, NASCAR, or WNBA. Some examples for media and broadcasters are Canal+, Flow Sports, Fox News (…) . We're proud of all of them, but I think we have grown a lot with NASCAR. They're a great example to talk about, in the sense that I feel that they're very innovative. They're the team that is always looking for different ways to test and they understand digital. Anyone who's willing to test and try things out, I'm a huge fan of because they're willing to see what works. I think they've done a really excellent job of taking our product and building upon it.”

  • On how LiveLike has helped Canal + grow their digital viewership: “[Canal+] launched with us on November 7th in 2020, myCANAL platform and for interaction, they saw 54% of unique users that opened the timeline and tapped on the widgets at least once. That, to me, is a really powerful number because it's actually showing, and it's proving out, that people are doing it. Then they had 20 plus widgets published during the match, which is really exciting. So, in terms of widgets, that's polls and quizzes, and what you can do in our platform is, what we say, batch them, where you can pre-build them before the match so that it's a little more seamless and they're ready to go. But for them to really capitalize, they dove in and they're like, this is what we're going to do. I bring them up because it's another good example of the fact that they did 20 widgets, that's a lot, and it was very successful, and they found it very successful too.”

  • On the LiveLike business model: “We are more on the SaaS model. So, we have a monthly licensing fee for an annual contract. We can also look at monthly active users, that's something that we typically do, but licensing fee is our standard. We also are open to discussing rev share models as well. I think there's a lot of opportunity there too, but our go-to market is licensing. We find that's the most simple and easy for clients to work with us off of that model.”

  • On LiveLike’s plans to focus on the NFT/crypto space: “So, for us, one of the things that we are really going after, and we're going to be adding to our stack, is crypto and NFT capabilities. We really believe that this is a major opportunity for sports teams to capitalize in the space. As we saw with brands like Adidas, there's a lot to be had from the secondary sale and from a monetization standpoint. Brand buzz is huge around it, and there is something always to be said about being an early adopter. We already have tokenization capabilities, so, in conjunction with that, we really believe that we can bridge the gap for sports teams to tie utility to fan experiences within their own ecosystem. So, that's something that we're definitely focused on. We've already got the wheels in motion on that.”

  • On LiveLike’s plans to increase their global audience: “The other thing is that we want to increase our global presence. We've been successful in Europe and the US, but we need to expand. We want to expand into APAC. There's a lot going on there and we want to be involved in it. We also, from a sub-vertical standpoint within the sports world, will continue to grow there. We've done really well and we have really great clients, but we've only skimmed the surface. I think women's sports offers a huge opportunity for us. I also think, looking at sports that are not necessarily the top tier that we see rights holders have, or looking at dark markets. So, if we have clients that are locked into rights deals, but there's opportunities to do something in a dark market with engagement, it’s a different way to try and expand there.”

  • On Chelsey’s take on the NFT market: “NFTs are still very early, and I think a lot of people don't necessarily understand the NFT space. I can say my education prior to diving into this through LiveLike was through my husband. He was very much an early adopter. I remember the first time he said it to me, I was like, "What is that?" but to your point with sports and technology, we're already seeing overlap in that space. The reason why I brought up Adidas is, we talk about secondary sales, and every time that NFT resold, they were getting paid on that. Then you also have players like Steph Curry, who's very open and active in the NFT space. I think the fact that we already have technology that is geared towards this, and we’re already in the tokenization space, it makes sense for us. What we really believe we can do is through our offering is really bridge that gap, where you can tie utility to it. If we do have, for example, our clippings tool available, if you take a clipping of Steph Curry where he hits X amount of points, you clip that, and mint that and you can sell that. There's just major opportunity there”.

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