As some of you may know, I am actively involved in SportsAid, a great charity that supports the development of the next generation of leading UK athletes. On Tuesday, I met with other charity members and our conversation turned to the relationship between sport and TV.

One of the attendees was a well-known UK sports’ presenter who laid out how TV companies are effectively segmenting viewers and focusing on providing high-fee pay-TV services to those who truly love each sport.

Rugby fans, for instance, may get to see a handful of free-to-air matches each season, but for those who are really into the sport and want to see matches each week, they must pay BT a monthly subscription. Similarly, cricket and golf fans cannot currently watch the sport live on TV without paying for the privilege – and relatively few people are willing to do that.

The problem is that participation in both cricket and golf is in decline, and rugby’s participation growth has been driven by a rise in the numbers of women and girls playing the game. Male participation is falling or static, at best.

Now, I’m not saying that these declines are completely due to a lack of free TV coverage. But the ultimate KPI of any sport’s health is a growing level of participation. Many people become inspired by sport by watching it on TV and if this isn’t possible, the chances are the numbers of new people trying the sport will fall.

What is true for sport is true for other sectors. If you are not attracting new customers to your brands and business and are being forced, instead, to drive your growth by selling more to an ever-reducing number of ‘loyalists’, you are on the route to decline and irrelevance. The investment of M&S, the UK high-street retailer, into Ocado, the on-line grocery business, is an admission of M&S’s failure to attract new customers through its existing business.

How well is your business doing on the KPI of new customer attraction? And if your new customer numbers are low, what steps are you taking to resolve the issue?


Off The Record: It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) by Bob Dylan


Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn

Suicide remarks are torn

From the fool’s gold mouthpiece, the hollow horn

Plays wasted words, proves to warn

That he not busy being born

Is busy dying


© Stuart Cross 2019. All rights reserved.