Digital Sport North - Levelling up sports networking

Last Wednesday night saw the inaugural Digital Sport North take place in Leeds.

The event brought together a brilliant panel of experts from the likes of ITV, William Hill, Sporting Life and our very own Football365 - to discuss the changing ways sport is being consumed.

This was the first in a series of networking events specifically designed to bring together leaders in and around sport and digital, sponsored by Planet Sport and digital agency, Spike.

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After a pretty miserable few years of virtual networking and explaining to colleagues and contacts that they were "still on mute", Digital Sport North brought good live, business networking back with a bang.

The event had been a long-held dream of Andy Roberts, Planet Sport's CMO. His rationale was that there are plenty of people working in and around the sports and digital industries (i.e. digital, media, broadcasting, publishing; working at clubs and federations, or in betting or gaming) in the North of England.

Despite this, there were very few opportunities to meet up, network and learn things from like-minded sports professionals.

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"It just seemed so obvious" said Andy.

"There are conferences and events in London and further afield covering digital sport in some shape or form, but precious little excuse for people based outside the South East to get together and meet in a low-key fashion.

“And yet there are so many exciting clubs, great businesses, organisations and talented people based in the UK regions that work in and around digital sport in all its forms.

"To my knowledge, there has never been an ideal way to get them all in one place to meet, and share ideas and insights. We thought it was about time to try and get them together and give them that platform."

Andy and Planet Sport set about working with Rob Powell and Spike to put things right and Digital Sport North (or DSN for short) was conceived.

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TV and radio presenters Rich Williams' (Virgin Radio/Leeds United TV) and Emma Jones (Premier Sports/MOTDx) were drafted in to host the night and quiz a carefully invited panel to discuss how and why the ways in which we consume sport are changing.

"I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to host this event," said Rich, "getting all the key people together in the digital sports industry was a really great move."

Panellists were Ian Cottrell, Director of Channel Operations at ITV; Manjit Bhatti, Head of Product at William Hill; Gareth Jones, Managing Director at Sporting Life and Sarah Winterburn, Editor of Football365.

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Senior individuals from companies such as Sky, Channel 4, Flutter Entertainment, Checkd Media, FootballCo, PA Media, StatsPerform, The Sporting News, Tall, The Data Shed, Voiceworks, IMA Home, InCrowd and many more were in attendance to hear the panel and meet faces old and new over a few drinks and a tasty buffet.

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Such was the success of DSN, that there are already plans for another event, to run alongside Leeds' Digital Festival in September.

People working in digital sport and related industries - and are based in the North - are encouraged to join the Digital Sport North LinkedIn group or get in touch with any of the teams at Planet Sport and Spike for more information.

DSN just goes to show, that there's plenty of life outside of London!