Laurent Puons, chief executive of Sportel, reviews the 2023 edition of the internationally acclaimed convention at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, which took place in late October, with GlobalData.

How do you evaluate the success of the 2023 edition of Sportel Monaco?

“The event was a success, with approximately 2,000 participants from more than 800 companies, and from at least 70 countries – so after a period where Covid-19 caused lower attendances, it’s well and truly back.

“The figures are nearly the same as 2019, which was an exceptional edition. The quality of participation this year was huge, and there were a lot of new companies, which is very important to attract because new participants mean new business opportunities.

“In 2021, the first post-Covid edition was good, because it was the first event back, but it felt like a European event, as opposed to an international one. Then, in 2022, we were delighted to welcome back a few US-based companies – but not a lot. This year, on the other hand, we felt the numbers were back to normal – they were nearly the same as 2019, which was the goal and something we managed to achieve.”

What were the highlights of this particular edition?

“The highlight in terms of attendees was companies in the fan engagement space, as well as across artificial intelligence [AI], which was a theme of the event.

“The program was very interesting as well, with aspects covering AI, fan engagement, FAST channels, monetization, and anti-piracy.

“In terms of specific attendees, it was a pleasure to welcome back companies such as the NFL and NBA – many of the major North American brands were back, which was very important.

“It was also a pleasure to welcome back the Professional Fighters League [PFL], which is a growing and important brand in mixed martial arts.”

What can we expect from the second iteration of Sportel Bali (February 22-23, 2024)?

“The inaugural Sportel Bali was interesting as it was the first event we organized specifically with a body based in that territory – in the past when we’ve organized events outside Monaco, we did so alone, but this time it was the inaugural event with the support of the local people.

“The business model was totally different this year because they took the cost on board, so we shared the risk with a local organization.

“The first edition was very successful because it gave the opportunity for the European sports industry to meet Asian and Indonesian companies. A lot of European companies liked being able to meet Asian companies and broadcasters, especially. Therefore, it’s very important to renew ties this year.

“It’s still very difficult to attract Asian participation in Europe, even in Monaco. So, Sportel Bali has the role of giving companies the opportunity to do business with European firms. The event attracted around 400 participants, which is a good start, as it’s difficult to run an event in a totally new country for the first time – especially without Indian and Chinese participants, with companies from those countries facing travel difficulties earlier this year.

“We look forward to growing the participant number in 2024. We want to develop the number of delegates and exhibitors, and we are very confident in doing so. If we can attract Chinese exhibitors, it will be perfect.”

How are plans progressing for the Sportel event in Buenos Aires in May?

“Buenos Aires is an excellent city to organize a Sportel in. We went there about a month ago, and I was very surprised by the excitement of welcoming Sportel into their city. I am sure the first edition [May 14 and 15] will be huge.

“We have a goal of 600 attendees for the first edition, having discussed the event a lot with participants in Monaco.

"When we took a decision to go there, it was to attract South American participation, which as a number was not particularly significant when we went to Miami in the past. It was less than 5%, even in Miami.

“I’m sure there are a lot of companies from that region involved in the business of sport, who have never been to Sportel either in Monaco or in Miami.

“Our goal is to bring Sportel to them – I’m sure it will be an immediate success, partly because they need an event like this. The people who work with us on the event are very involved in this business.

“North American companies will travel, while it will also be an opportunity for European firms to meet the rest of the world – I’m sure we can attract some Asian companies too. It will definitely be an international event immediately.

"Especially with sports technology firms, there is still a big gap in that market in South America.

“All over the world, however, our main goal is to attract the maximum of participants to Sportel Monaco – in the end, that is our ultimate aim.”