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New England Patriots Content Chief Talks Social, Video, Analytics

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Fred Kirsch, vice president of content and publisher for the New England Patriots — the NFL team —knows a little something about moving and managing content. Huge amounts of content.

In the emerging omnichannel world, that's a complex job — not only the production and management of content itself, but how it is marketed and distributed over multiple platforms including web and mobile. He's a great guy to talk to, and CMSWire.com was fortunate enough to interview him last week.

What a Job!

When I first heard about Kirsch, I thought — what a job! NFL teams, are, after all, massive content producers. They are churning out a constant stream of data, videos and text for rabid, insatiable fans.  The production and marketing of the NFL teams requires a sophisticated approach for taking this copious amount of digital content and using it to engage and grow the audience. Kirsch has been on top of it from the beginning — 1995. 

Kirsch is an industry pioneer. He believes the Patriots were the first professional sports team to launch a website, which is what he was hired to do in 1995. The site launched the same year, almost 20 years ago. Since then, he's seen the introduction of streaming live video, mobile apps, iPads and more recently, Wi-Fi in the stadium.

The Patriots produce about 60 minutes of on-demand video a day and another 30 minutes of streaming video a day during the season, according to Kirsch. That does not include special events such as streaming audio radio shows. 

The Patriots are also moving into sophisticated operations such as realtime analysis of what the fan base is doing during the game, which I highlighted last week with the launch of Extreme Networks' Purview product.

You couldn't pick a more experienced person to give you the lowdown on content management and digital marketing. So read on and find out what Kirsch thinks.

CMSWire.com: Fred, you appear to have my dream job. Tell us what you do.

Kirsch: I'm the publisher and VP of content with the Patriots. I started in January of 1995 to start the team newspaper. We were the first sports team to have a website. We got the domain in 1994 and launched in 1995. That changed everything. I took over the digital content. We were the first team to have a nightly video show. It's been running ever since 1997. We've done live pay-per-view streaming. I've also gotten into the delivery of it which is apps and now Wi-Fi in the stadium.  In 2012, we enabled all of Gillette with WiFi. Now we're looking at ways to leverage it.

CMSWire.com: How do you handle all the complexity in digital content these days?

Kirsch: Social media has added to the complexity. We have somebody that focuses on social media, but she works very closely with our digital producers and web masters so there is synergy. There is stuff you drive to all platforms but then there is unique content. We have a meeting on Tuesday of every week and we talk about content and synergy and what can be cross-promoted to different platforms. The complexity is dealt with by communication. 

CMSWire.com: What are some other daily technical decisions and challenges?

Kirsch: Sometimes the problem is doing too much. We are a content brand, more than a company like Proctor & Gamble, which is a product brand. The meat of what we do is the content. Even then, we have a lot of different departments that want to do a lot of different things. The challenge is not to do too much stuff and confuse our fans. We have to make decisions about which promotions to run and put the whole energy of the organization behind it. You have to be judicious about how much you are going to bombard fans with promotions and content. 

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CMSWire.com: What are some big trends or questions coming up in the next few years?

Kirsch: In terms of trends, TV is coming back into the fray. People left TV a little bit for mobile and iPad. But it's all coming back with Chromecast and AppleTV. SmartTVs are becoming more ubiquitous. Everything is going to go back to the living room like it used to be. It will be digital content, but it will all be available on your TV. Content owners need to be aware of that. Do we have to do a deal with Chromecast? The NFL just last week announced NFL Now, which is a new app completely focused on video.  

 

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