Spencer Riehl, Lauren Stirling and Jennifer NeilsonStudents Spencer Riehl, Lauren Stirling and Jennifer Neilson await their chance to present in the offices of Sportsnet.

Kinesiology students present research to major Canadian sports broadcaster

Master’s students in sport management got real-world work experience when kinesiology professor Craig Greenham teamed up with a sports broadcaster and upped the ante in his research methods course.

This is the first time Dr. Greenham included a strategic industry partner. The class researched hockey fandom and considered topics such as brand loyalty and changes in hockey consumption habits, like streaming on smartphones and tablets, instead of watching television.

At the end of the term, the students presented their findings to Rogers Media executives at the Sportsnet campus in Toronto.

“Including a professional partner is not without its challenges and it created added pressure to the students,” says Greenham. “But I think that after successfully delivering quality presentations, that amped-up anxiety, came an increased sense of accomplishment.”

The research focused on the university-aged demographic, because Greenham says Rogers finds it to be a lucrative but difficult demographic to reach. In particular, Rogers is heavily invested in the National Hockey League, recently signing a 12-year $5.2 billion deal for broadcasting rights to the Hockey Night in Canada franchise.

Greenham says they looked at viewership consumption patterns as well as how they watched. He says younger viewers are switching from traditional television viewing to streaming games on smartphones and tablets.

Kinesiology master’s candidate Peter Baldwin worked at a bank for a few years between his undergraduate degree and coming to UWindsor for his graduate degree. He says presenting in front of a large company like Rogers was rewarding and invaluable because in the real world, it is common to have to present to people you may not be familiar with.

“I really didn’t know what to expect from the people at Sportsnet, but they were very engaged and genuinely curious about how we conducted our research,” says Baldwin. “It wasn’t one-sided, I feel there was a real benefit to both sides and that was quite helpful.”

Bami Ogunlana, another student in the research methods course, says knowing she would be presenting to real executives helped give her and her classmates something real and tangible to work towards.

“The project served as a practical way to apply theories learned in class,” says Ogunlana. “The course itself was a lot of hard work, definitely the most challenging class I have taken to date, however I would say working with Sportsnet made it all worthwhile and enjoyable.”

Greenham says he would invite strategic industry partners in again, despite the added challenges.

“I could tell from their engagement during the presentations and the question-and-answer segment that the Sportsnet execs were very engaged and impressed with what the students had unearthed,” says Greenham. “In addition to the presentations, Sportsnet will also have access to the four written reports. It was certainly a win-win and a great payoff for all the hard work from my students.”