The internet permits the Alouettes, through MontrealAloutettes.com, to accomplish this goal. “It allows us the chance to cater to both our Francophone and Anglophone fans,” says Dorais. “While revenues are split, most sponsors want to cater to both markets. This creates some unique revenue generating opportunities for the site.”
In fact, Dorais believes the internet is revolutionizing the marketing of sports franchises. “It is the major overhaul which has occurred over the last few years,” he notes. “You want to position a club and its players to deliver a certain message to the public and community. Franchises traditionally accomplished this through print and television advertising. We still have these mediums, but the internet now also plays a major role.”
The team’s website serves as a valuable tool to achieve this objective. “The site is our direct link to the fans,” he says. “It also allows us to control content and information while providing sponsors what they want, namely a chance to connect with our fan base. This is why we view the site as key to our marketing and are not afraid to put resources into it.”
Online video, through segments on Alouettes TV, plays a major role in the club’s internet strategy. “Our team has a full-time crew that covers the team and makes content,” notes Dorais. “In fact, we always look for videos, besides those made by our reporters, which will interest our fans. Our franchise is investing heavily in this concept because we believe that it is the future.”
Paul Markle, a former CFL player and Toronto Argonauts executive, thinks the league as a whole benefits tremendously from the internet’s emergence. “I think what it means is that all teams are on equal footing,” says Markle, who also worked as a vice president for Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays and currently serves as the director of marketing for Pro Sport Surfaces, an Ontario-based turf manufacturer. “The internet allows the clubs to share in each other’s resources. Additionally, it helps make Canadian football more of a global sport. After all, as long as fans can log on to the internet, they always have access to the league and its teams.”
The emergence of new media assets as revenue generating entities might be an important reason why the CFL still exists. “I think the league sees internet as a huge opportunity to improve the way it does business,” Markle says. “Ten years ago we were having a different conversation, wondering what to do to save the league. Right now, we are at the point where it is actually growing.”
This is where sponsorship and advertising play an important role. “The internet provides the opportunity to engage a sponsor,” notes Markle. “Rather than just selling a patch on a field or uniform, which the CFL permits, there is more that a team can do to get an advertiser or sponsor involved with the team or its fans. This is exactly what sponsors want. In the end, it just broadens the depth, reach and awareness that the league and its clubs can create.”
As the internet evolves, it should continue to play a major role in developing fan engagement and sponsorship opportunities. Online content could emerge as an even greater asset for CFL and its respective franchises, by offering the chance for further global fan base growth and additional revenue generating sources. This would increase the likelihood they remain viable in the always competitive sports marketplace.