Horizon Media weds sports and experience expertise under new practice – Marketing Dive

Horizon Media is aligning its sports and experiential functions with the rollout of HS&E, which combines and expands on the existing expertise of firms like Scout Sports and Chapter & Verse. The move arrives as a confluence of factors changes the landscape of sports marketing and consumers grow accustomed to hybrid experiences that bridge digital channels with real life. 
Smaller and niche sports are attracting more eyeballs, opening opportunities for marketers grappling with fragmented consumer attention. Anheuser-Busch InBev last week acquired a Major League Pickleball team in a bid to capitalize on what’s become one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. Rival Molson Coors also recently made Vizzy the official hard seltzer of the Professional Pickleball Association. Outside of the IRL sporting arena, esports has become a powerhouse that’s seen an influx of brand investment this year. 
The continued ascendance of streaming has at the same time created a bigger impact on broadcasting, potentially altering how advertising, commerce and analytics can be wed. NFL “Thursday Night Football” made the jump to Prime Video this year as part of an extensive contract with the league, while Apple and, reportedly, Netflix are similarly vying to shore up their foothold with media rights deals. 
Horizon Media is making other moves to strengthen its position in areas like connected TV (CTV) that are coming to dominate linear media. The independent media agency today (Nov. 14) revealed a multiyear supply-path optimization deal with sell-side platform Magnite around CTV ad buying, according to Digiday. The two have previously worked together.   
HS&E also sees the metaverse and Web3 as major pieces of the future sports experience. The metaverse has drawn harsher skepticism of late as leading platforms like Meta struggle to create interest and scale. But marketers, at least, still appear eager to dip their toes in. Forrester Research found nearly 70% of CMOs at consumer-facing brands are seeking Web3-related strategies, which the researcher expects will lead to an uptick in specialist shops next year. 
“Given fundamental shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviors that are continuing to drive the evolution of brand experience — both physical and digital — I believe that Web3 is going to be the ‘experience Web,’” said HS&E’s Weil in a statement. “So, we’re creating a company that will be at the forefront of monetizing Web3 in this blended physical-digital world.”
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