This week, I spoke with the Founding Partner of The Quantrill Partnership, Dominic Quantrill. Dominic’s career journey stems across investment banking, recruitment, sport and entertainment. Dominic breaks down how his sports career journey started, insights into emerging industry trends, networking power, and what makes an impactful brand partnership.
Question 1: Dominic, it’s great to have you on Ash’s Sports Talk. How did your sports career begin?
It all started when I was working in investment banking, and a private equity client had invested into a Formula 1 team and they needed to make some senior hires. I then realised there was a gap in the market that led me to set up a professional executive search firm called United Media Entertainment Group (UMEG). UMEG’s mission statement was to support the sports industry through its hiring process and represent sports teams, clubs, and brands.
Question 2: Tell me more about the Quantrill Partnership. What does your role look like, and what inspired you to establish the business?
My role is quite varied, but our business activities can be split into two pillars, executive search and brand partnerships. Have recently taken on a significant project with Aser Ventures who owns Leeds United FC, LIVENow and Eleven Sports, and I’m doing all of their recruitment and executive search. On the brand partnership side, I’m doing some work with a luxury supercar manufacturer on a licensing project and a documentary series.
I’m very driven by opportunities to collaborate within the intersection of sport and entertainment. I’m inspired by innovation and the curiosity to do things differently which is why The Quantrill Partnership was set up.
Question 3: I’m aware your network is very extensive. You have experience across media, sports, entertainment, luxury brands and more. What did the process look like when building such a network for your personal career and your business?
I didn’t necessarily have a process when building my network, I am lucky enough to work in a sector that I have close personal interest and passion for. Developing my network has taken a lot of time and personal investment. Earlier today, I spoke with someone in my network that I’ve known since 2004. To make the most of your network, it takes
time, patience, investment and remaining authentic.
Question 4: What are some key and emerging trends across sport and entertainment that you believe will shape the industry’s future?
The landscape of sports consumption is changing dramatically. The digital transformation has impacted sports rights, shifting towards shorter-format sports (cricket and T20 have been hot on this) and the increased competition for eyeballs. Digitalisation has also bridged traditional sport and esports closer together; Fornite has created a new relationship with Neymar Jnr. The industry is trying new ways to capture the youth market through shorter formats, particularly with football. Naturally, wherever tech leads is a chance to make more money, which we see with NFT’s.
Question 5: I’m keen to hear your views on the YouTube boxing trend, which has evolved into influencer-led sport. How sustainable do you feel this is?
It’s fascinating how boxing federations have accepted online personalities as professional boxers. We’ve seen similar in other sports. For example, Justin Timberlake playing golf alongside celebrity NBA players. It’s an effective way to reach new audiences through celebrity brand power. It’s also merging different sports and entertainment levels, such as Snoop Dogg commentating and DJ’ing on the Triller Fight Club. I’m all for it; I think it will stick around, but it won’t overtake traditional sports events.
Question 6: Sports streamers have also made noise across the broadcasting landscape. We see the likes of DAZN, Amazon Prime, Twitch etc. grow with gaining sports rights. How do you feel traditional broadcasters like Sky Sports, BT Sport, and ESPN will fair?
Technology is allowing fans to get closer to their sports in more ways than just on match day or race day. A recent example includes Red Bull Media House working with their pro-mountain biker Danny MacAskill on a new piece of content. Interestingly, there were more views on the behind the scenes making of the show. It demonstrates the fact that now fans are looking for ever greater engagement with their sports, such as tips around fitness, training and preparing themselves etc. This is where streaming platforms can add some value without having to spend lots of money on securing the media rights, instead, they can create polished formats that is in demand and can be sold into different markets.
Its early days still for some streamed sports shows; it’s fair to say that Sky’s polished production values are evident and have really set the bar, there’s a way to go for the DAZN production for example. Streaming services will inevitably get better with the quality of their productions over time. However, it’s an ongoing challenge that with so many subscriptions to choose from for sports fans how do the platforms remain competitive and relevant. Typically, the new generation of fans wants to consume content and move on rather than committing long-term to subscriptions. This will likely influence and shift the dynamic of how we consume content in the future.
Question 7: When establishing a brand partnership in sport, what are the key values that make it successful?
Having honesty in terms of what you’re proposing is an important puzzle piece. Communication is also vital. It’s one thing selling an idea, but delivering on the promise is another process in itself. Having the ability to learn and to innovate are also crucial elements, by bringing something new or unique to a partnership, that’s only going to be positive. Clarity is also important; some really good ideas and partnerships have failed simply because of a lack of clarity from the outset from what people expected.
Question 8: With any successful sports career, there comes an array of challenges. What are some that you’ve experienced that have developed yourself as a sports industry asset?
Getting into the sports industry can be difficult as it attracts different people for different reasons. One of the big challenges is building a reputation or track record when its often hard to break into a sector. I have learnt that reputation is so important, I have tried to be as authentic and honest possible in my career and hope that’s reflected in the duration of my working relationships in the industry!
Question 9: Dominic, reflecting on this discussion, what is your key piece of advice for someone wanting to pursue a career in sport?
Think long and hard about what you want because, as mentioned, the industry attracts many people for different reasons. Create your network early as possible; it’s the reason why I’m still operating in the market. This came from building relationships with people, attending webinars, learning from others and seeking advice. If you can invest in this, it will pay massive dividends.
What a powerful interview there with Dominic. Networking has always been a key value to elevate the right opportunity. His insights into the digital drift of sport are invaluable for rights holders to act and stay ahead of the curve. However, what part of the interview did you find most valuable?