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The Interview - Gustavo Arellano, Head of Commercial Development at FIBA

We would like to thank Gustavo Arellano, Head of Commercial Development at FIBA, for sharing with our audience his perspective about basketball moving forward, not only from an external angle but also for sharing more insights about how FIBA assists national federations to take their entities to the next level.

You have a robust experience in the sports industry. Now, as Head of Commercial Department at FIBA, you are in a privileged position to visualize where the sport business is heading to. However, before visualizing the future, let's have a look back at the past. According to your understanding, what have been the main milestones of the sports industry (and mainly, basketball) over the last 5-10 years? What have been the drivers that have facilitated and leveraged the evolution of the sports industry?

We all have experience (most likely first hand) on how sports have impacted different sectors of our lives, tourism, fitness, media, and education, to name a few, and there is no doubt that it is, and it will continue growing. When it comes to its evolution as an industry, many components have contributed to its growth i.e. technology, traditional and new media, infrastructure etc. Still, I believe all come together on how easy it is to “access” sports. Nowadays, regardless of age (or discipline), it is effortless to start practicing a sport. It is simple to join a club or look for a “match up” on an app, then to watch or attend events related to that sport at a local, regional or national level. Then even easier to consume content related to that sport, brands, athletes, stories, and anything you need to stay connected at all levels and from different angles with the sport. For basketball, it is no different, it is a global game that is accessed by billions around the world, and for us backstage, our role is to facilitate further the growth and the development of the basketball family.

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, both to practice and to follow, also among younger generations. What are the strategies FIBA is activating in order to reinforce the attractiveness of basketball among younger generations and, generally speaking, aligned with the switch of how sport is consumed? (multiple screens, multi-content, interactive engagement, phygital framework, social platforms, etc.)

At the strategic level, it is essential to highlight the three pillars FIBA focuses on this cycle: 1) Empower National Federations, 2) Women in Basketball 3) Enlarge FIBA Family. Regarding the Enlarge FIBA Family pillar, we have rolled out different initiatives to bring basketball to all types of consumers. At our core is our digital strategy, built around a concept that evolved from “consumer-centric” to “celebration of basketball,” placing Fans & innovation at the heart of our activities for the development of our community. To do that, we have to balance between the visibility of our events and the content generated by basketball fans, up to the support of our National Federations to develop their digital footprint. A recent and concrete example is the launch of Courtside 1891, a platform that allows FIBA to connect directly with consumers aggregating the best of basketball in one place. It features live and on-demand basketball streams, schedules, and scores bringing video and live data from professional men’s, women’s, and youth basketball players across the globe into a single destination. As part of FIBA’s Roadmap for the Future of Basketball 2019-2027, in addition to enlarge the FIBA family it will drive sustainable media and marketing revenue growth. Critically this includes engaging the next generations of the basketball audience. Courtside 1891 is central to FIBA achieving this, and represents a unique approach by an international federation, and is an OTT product that delivers value for fans every day of the year.

The department you are leading provides, among other services, professional support and guidance to national federations. Also, within FIBA, you have created FIBA+. What are the main activities of these departments/units? And what are the main objectives you would like to achieve? What other services and projects are you offering?

Centric to FIBA’s strategic pillar, Empower National Federations, is the creation of FIBA Plus, an umbrella of programs designed to assist National Federations in the development of basketball in their country by helping them implement a sustainable strategy focused on reaching their full potential. We have developed two programs under the FIBA PLUS umbrella, including planning and a plan implementation phase. The FIBA PLUS Performance Program is delivered individually in a hybrid format. It targets National Federations with substantial financial and staffing capacity to establish and implement strategic plans over three to five years. This initiative is a tailor-made solution for federations that aim to implement the correct strategies for their specific needs to improve their competencies such as organization, professionalization, massification and commercialization of basketball activities. To deliver this program, FIBA trained a group of experts able to transfer knowledge, support, and deliver solutions adapted to the reality of each organization. During the first stage (online), information is gathered among internal and external stakeholders, providing a holistic view of the current situation. During the second stage (in person), the goal is to produce a strategic planning document that will guide the federation for the coming years with clear goals, objectives, and action plans. Another solution is The FIBA PLUS Fundamentals Program, delivered to groups of National Federations; it is more adapted to small-sized organizations that need to focus on shorter plans (12-18 months).

FIBA also invests considerable resources in line with United Nations Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. What are the main activities of your ESG strategy?

On this topic, we need to raise the great work achieved by the FIBA Foundation; we believe basketball can play an integral role in helping to achieve the UN SDGs. "Basketball For Good" is a group of projects covering all initiatives, mainly the delivery of youth engagement programs that promote education, health, and well-being and fight injustices and inequality through basketball. Since 2016, we have given hope, joy, and the chance of a better future to over 35,000 children annually in 157 countries. Another 200,000 have benefited indirectly through the work of Youth Leaders and Mini Basketball experts. We invite you to have a look at our projects worldwide on our website:

The Sports Industry generates around 1,5-2% of the global GDP, and also evolves rapidly. As per your deep knowledge and understanding of the industry (and mainly, basketball), what the main challenges the sector is facing and has to tackle within the next years -vision 2030-? How the sports sector will look like by 2030?

As Venezuelan, by 2030 I would love to see the reduction of gaps among regions, specifically from South America and Africa, but the numbers and trends show the opposite; therefore, there is a responsibility at the global level to actively support key regions to ensure consistent development of the sector. For the future of this industry, we can expect (but we have to work for it) a more sustainable way of working environmentally, economically, human and socially. Due to its impact, the shifting media landscape will lead to the evolution of the industry, with some adjustments still led by big players, but recognising the influence of the sport, and its stories beyond the field of play. For Sports organizations, in my view, the challenges can be summarized as gathering (and analyzing) data; fan engagement before, during, and after the game; professionalization of the human resources, and technology integration to processes at all levels. As an industry, we are on the right path, but everything is to be done!

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