Pirrone doesn’t like all the video vendors he has to work with, however.
“The marketplace is very fragmented," he said. "We’re working with most of the players out there, because the demand side is working with a lot of different players. You have to work with Google, Tremor, Adapt, SpotXchange, BrightRoll, because that’s where the programmatic demand is.”
All these platforms make it difficult for publishers like USA Today Sports to track and target. Going forward, the group is taking steps to create more video content to meet demand from advertisers.
And “18- to 35-year-olds would rather consume video than text,” Pirrone observed. “We tend to be younger, more mobile and more social than competitors,” which he attributes to the sites’ engaged fan base.
But digital video rights to sports events are too expensive. “Frankly, leagues don’t understand digital syndication. They want billions of dollars for rights fees, and on digital, we know it doesn’t monetize that way,” Pirrone said.
Instead, USA Today Sports focuses on creating rich commentary around an event without relying on the highlight reels.
It might also live blog expensive pay-per-view events, like the MMA, which drives a lot of traffic, Pirrone said.
It’s through these workarounds that USA Today Sports plans to scale up supply in video as the publisher itself undergoes a transition.
“The biggest issue for us is how do we create interesting storytelling?” Pirrone said. “How do we transition from a newspaper company to a digital company to now a video company?”