VIDEO OF THE INTERVIEW WITH JOHN DONOVAN
Show notes from John Donovan Interview
Ryan Knuppel: On today’s show, Ryan sits down with John Donovan of Because We Can media to talk about how we’re handling business during this coronavirus shutdown.
Ryan Knuppel: This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy. Everywhere you turn, it’s the same old sports talk, the same headlines, the same news and the same boring information. This podcast is here to change all of that. We bring you hot sports takes, winning sports betting strategy and picks, reliable gaming industry news and breaking interviews with some of the biggest names in sports business. My name is Ryan Knuppel. Welcome to the Knup Sports Show.
Ryan Knuppel: All right. Welcome back to another episode of the Knup Sports Show. Today we are going to talk coronavirus, we’re going to talk sports shutdown, we’re going to talk esports, we’re going to talk lots and lots of stuff. I’m joined by John Donovan. John, you’ve joined me on a previous show. Thanks and welcome back.
John Donovan: Good. How’s things?
Ryan Knuppel: Oh, things are well, man. They’re going okay, I guess. I’m here, I’m living, I am coronavirus free. Kind of getting a little stir crazy though. I’m ready to get out of the house a bit. But how about you? You all good there?
John Donovan: Same. Same. I mean, the only good thing that we’ve got in the UK is that the weather is lovely. It’s nice and warm. It’s 20 degrees, which is very unlike the UK, which is nice. The only problem with that is we can’t really go that far, so appreciate it. Kind of, yeah, confined to the garden and everything else. But yeah, I’d say I can’t complain, everything’s good.
Ryan Knuppel: Good. Yeah. We have pretty good weather here in Florida as well. It’s always good weather in Florida. Not rainy yet. Our rainy season’s coming. I think I’ve went on more walks and bike rides than I have in maybe the last five years combined over this last month. Kind of opens your eyes a little bit to like, man, maybe we weren’t doing something right. Maybe we’re doing a l-… even mix in this with real life a little bit more when things get back to normal. Right? Good things about this for sure.
John Donovan: Exactly. Without sounding too strange about it, I’m actually enjoying it. It’s quite nice. It’s quite refreshing in the sense that people are getting out. Like you’re saying, more people are jogging, more people are cycling, just very randomly, and it’s almost going back to basics. It’s kind of getting away from the day-to-day grind of things, which is, you know, is essential and it’s got to be done but it’s nice. So it’s kind of refreshing. If it wasn’t for such a bad situation, it’d be nice.
John Donovan: As I say, it’s good. I’m enjoying it to a certain extent in the sense that it’s really going back to basics, really going back to the fundamentals of appreciating everything you’ve got, everything you’re doing or the really things that you take for granted, like going out for a jog or just pop into the shops, whatever. It’s now kind of happen to be really heightened and unders-.
Ryan Knuppel: I love that mentality, man. That’s very much like me. You always find a silver lining in everything we do and just keep positive and just go with it. There’s always negatives and positives. I try to stay on the positive side, so I think-
John Donovan: We have to, we have to.
Ryan Knuppel: what are we going to do?
John Donovan: For everyone’s sake, yeah.
Ryan Knuppel: So how’s business going? Last time we talked a little bit about Because We Can media and what you’re doing with everything and really dove into what you do. I’m just curious how you’re handling this shutdown from a business side, maybe what types of things you’re pivoting into, and maybe we could talk through that from each of our sides and really just talk through how business is looking, really focused in the gaming sector, which is where we’re both at. How’s it going for you guys?
John Donovan: Yeah, well it’s weird really. Obviously, last time we spoke we was talking about Betting on Sports America. We were premiums… there. Then that was canceled, which has been a bit of a bummer. Then I actually went to see one of our clients. I flew to Costa Rica. I literally got out of Costa Rica a day before they shut the borders. So it was interesting again as well.
John Donovan: Do you know what, business is good. I can’t complain. It’s one of those things where there’s no sports being played, right, but… Again, without sounding too judgmental about it is, is you adapt or die. You’ve kind of got to be like that both within a work environment, but also how we are, like we was just talking about, people going out now and changing the way their habits and behaviors.
John Donovan: It’s the same with businesses and a lot of businesses are, they’re shutting up shop or they’re like, we’re going to bunker down, we’re not going to do anything. We’re going to ride this out. I’m like, well now’s the time to adapt. Nows the time to evolve, look at different things. I think, look, we’ve worked and we’ve worked with lots of different brands, lots different sports books specifically, but hey, like 80, 85% of revenue is sports for sports books. It just is. You know, the rest of it is going to be your online casino, virtual stuff.
John Donovan: But genuinely, as soon as everything was paused from what we were running from a marketing perspective for sports betting, those same clients literally were on the phone to me saying, “We’ve got to pause it, but we still need to generate revenue. What can we do?” We’re fortunate we’re gambling in esports and that’s our strap line and that’s what we do. So, it was that pivot towards, well let’s put them in front of the esports, let’s look at online virtual casino, all that kind of stuff, which is not really anything new for us, but the industry as a whole has to and has had to adapt to that because there’s nothing else. There’s no other way of generating revenue.
John Donovan: I’m sure there’s some other things you can gamble on and I’ve heard people now taking on the next presidential election and sort of throwing odds out and lines for that. That’s well and good for a very small number, but if you want consistency, because this isn’t the kind of two, three week thing that’s going to go away. We’re talking months. Even now we’re still going to be sitting here for a good, you know, at least two months I think, in my opinion, before anything starts to really start lifting when sport being played again.
John Donovan: They said that basketball may be played at the end of June. We’ve got the UFC, which is actually now they’ve bought an island just to actually put the event on which they’re going to televise. So it is now, there’s the talks and the conversations, but to get things back to normal, we’re talking months. We’re talking months and it’s adapt or die. So we’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to do that.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. That’s good. That phrase, that adapt or die, is a good phrase to live by. For us from a content creation perspective, I mean when you think of what we’ve done, it’s pretty much been sports betting content. I’d say 90% of what we do is sports betting content. So the initial reaction since there’s no sports being played is, uh-oh, we’re in trouble. What are we going to do? But then that’s when as a business owner and as a company, you’ve got to step back and think, okay, adapt or die. We’re not going to die here, so let’s figure out how to adapt and come out of this thing on the top when it does come out.
Ryan Knuppel: It’s the same kind of things we’ve been doing. We’ve been migrating into the casino space. Casino content is one of those things. This is going to get a little off topic, but casino content is one of those things that’s been around forever and there’s a lot of demand for casino content out there. But it’s not something that I’ve built my company to really focus on. But now… I’ve always made the excuse, well, we have enough sports content. That’s kind of our thing. That’s what we do. Yeah, we could do this and we’d be pretty good at it, but it’s like, do I really want to take on another vertical and get into that?
Ryan Knuppel: Now, it’s forced us to, okay, we’re taking on this new division of our company, casino esports, doing content around that, putting our processes, our team around these other verticals, and I’m looking at it now like, damn, why didn’t I do this three years ago? [crosstalk 00:07:39] great job with it. We’re doing a great job with this, with this. And guess what? When sports comes back, the business is only going to be this much bigger than it was before we didn’t take that jump.
Ryan Knuppel: It was almost like a kick in the butt to like, okay, you got to do it now. Sometimes life is ironic and business is ironic where it takes that little nudge to make it happen. So again, this is all kind of going back to, I know we hate that this is happening, but you have to find the goods and you have to adapt and I think both of us from a business perspective are looking at it that way. I think what you’ll see is when we come out of it, we’re going to hopefully, I mean both of us hope, are going to be on top or doing well.
John Donovan: Yeah, no, exactly. Yeah. That’s it. It’s not a good situation and I really sympathize for a lot of brands out there and a lot of agencies. I know a lot of people in the industry and a lot of agencies that are almost competitive space to us to a certain extent, and they’re struggling and they’re losing their job. Financially, people are going to be in a bit of trouble.
John Donovan: But as I say, it is quite refreshing. I am enjoying the process. We’re in a fortunate position and I think from that standpoint it’s the same with you guys. You’ve got to look at the different angles. We’ve got to look at different ways of approaching it.
John Donovan: Esports was probably maybe 20%, 25% if that, of our standard part of our revenue stream, put it that way. Now it’s all of our revenue stream or pretty much 90% apart from casino and everything else. But yeah, you’ve got a lot of people like the F1. You know, F1 now are doing… amount. They’re actually streaming live and you’re getting hundreds of thousands of people logging into to watch these events. NASCAR are now jumping on board. You’ve got all of the major esports tournaments that have been canceled. They’re just kind of reverting it and doing it online and it doesn’t matter anyway because everyone’s online watching them, the majority of this.
John Donovan: It’s refreshing. It’s scary. But like you said, I think the great thing about it is, is a sense that you’ve been forced into it. Your hand is… play because you do go down that field where it’s just nice and easy and it’s [crosstalk 00:09:48] you do what you do and it’s like, yeah, it’s good. Now it’s like, right, I’ve got to learn something. I’ve got to learn how to change. Got to learn how to market that. I’ve got learn how to produce content, whatever it is. So yeah, it’s scary. We’ll definitely, we’ll come out the side of it I think better off, those who are adapting and trying something different. But yeah.
John Donovan: I know for a fact, at the end of this there’s going to be a lot of businesses that have gone under, there’s going to be a lot of businesses that are going to be financially struggling. It’s sad, but now’s the time to try something different. What have you got to lose? [crosstalk 00:10:23]. Business is generally at that point, and I’ve been speaking to people about it and friends of mine and people who have had their businesses for years, a lot longer than Because We Can media have been going for. They’re like “John, we’re pretty screwed,” because most standard agencies, you’ve got the salaries that have been paid out. Then you’re basically paying out for campaigns so then you’re chasing money from the brands [crosstalk 00:10:45]. Basically, you’ve paid out for your salaries and stuff. Photo, it’s kicked in, but you don’t get that money back until end of June here in the UK, so basically if you’ve got no cash in the bank, you’re pretty much in a bit of a divet. And what do you do? But if you’re at that stage, then try it. Try it. What have you got to lose?
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah.
John Donovan: Generally what have you got to lose? That’s the only advice I can kind of give to-
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. I don’t want it to come out as insensitive, because maybe we have been fortunate to be able to do this. I know there are companies out there struggling and everybody’s in a different situation on I guess how lean their company is in the first place, or how they’re able to collect money and things like that. So I definitely am not, you know, “Oh, everything’s rosy and great and every business should just easily be able to pivot.” I understand it’s not always that easy.
Ryan Knuppel: I have ideas around that and I know you do too, and I’d urge anybody that’s watching this that’s maybe going through some struggles, feel free to reach out to myself for sure. I won’t speak for you, but I know you’re always open to a good conversation, but feel free to reach out. I’m happy to give some, any advice that I can give or just talk and understand your situation as a business owner or even if you’re an employee of a business that maybe lost your job, looking for something else. We know a lot of people in this space and so if there’s a way we can help connect or talk you through, and I’m talking to the audience now, but talk you through this hard time, don’t hesitate to send me a message at any time. I’d love to chat and just understand what’s going on and see if I can offer a lending hand to the situation.
John Donovan: It’s exactly the same for us and I know exactly what you’re saying. We’ve even reached out to competitors. I’ve actually made a conscious effort to reach out to competitors and say, look, there’s a time when you’ve got to fight and there’s a time when you’ve got to come together and support, and now people are saying, “Oh yeah, it’s going to put my competitor out of business. I’m going to do that.” I’m like, no dude, that’s not what we’re about. We’re an industry where we’ve got to kind of look after each other. Of course, yes, you’re competitors. Of course you want to win that business over there. That’s just, that’s the hustle. That’s the life, that’s business. But this is a very, very different situation and I don’t want to be coming out of this going, “Well, you know what? Dave over at some kind of other agency gone under and stuff.” I’m definitely not going to be happy about that.
John Donovan: We need competition. We need competition in a business and life situation [inaudible 00:13:11]. And so we’ve actively reached out and said, “Look. We’ll support you, we’ll help you as much as we can.” We’ve got campaigns that, some stuff that we can’t even deliver because it’s kind of outside of our skillset. I know they can, so I’m like, “Just push budget your way,” and we’re doing that.
Ryan Knuppel: Perfect. That’s amazing.
John Donovan: It’s kind of working, so now it’s time for… I think we’ve all got to support each other no matter what industry we’re… and what we’re doing. As I say, that aside, there’s so many other things that kind of now ruin its face and kind of [crosstalk 00:13:42]. Your virtual, your esports are just absolutely [crosstalk 00:13:44].
Ryan Knuppel: I’ve got a question for you about the esports side of things. I’m going to play a little devil’s advocate on myself because I’m a big esports provide… I love esports. I love the concept of it. I know it’s the future. I think it’s going to be amazing. But I’ll tell you what. I tried to watch Kevin Durant and whoever play one-on-one NBA 2K on ESPN and I was all in. I’m like, I’m going to watch this, I’m going to bet on it. I’m going to be all a part of it, I’m going to be into it. I watched it and I was so let down just from the feeling. I’m like ,this just isn’t the same. It isn’t the same.
Ryan Knuppel: I guess my thought, did you have similar reaction to that? And if so, is that just because we’re so used to the real competition, that it’s hard to watch that? Or-
John Donovan: The sweat and tears, actually seeing it.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. What were your thoughts on that?
John Donovan: I’m exactly the same. I’m exactly the same, and it’s not for me to sit here and say… Well, screw it. I can actually criticize because I’m a marketing business. I’m very transparent with my brands in the sense that if they want to bet, if they want to do some branding with marketing for virtuals or they want to do the… Fine. We’ll hope them do that. We have the platforms to do that, whether I like it or not. [crosstalk 00:15:01] dabble in esports. I’m not a gambler and I don’t [crosstalk 00:15:03].
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. This is the personal you, your thoughts. [crosstalk 00:15:07].
John Donovan: Yeah, it was that and there’s a lot of people out there right now saying, “Yeah, it’s going to be the next best thing and now’s the time for it, and as soon as sports start again,” and stuff.
John Donovan: Personally my thoughts are, it’s something for people that are those fanatics that want it, that need it, that have to bet on something. They feel like that that’s their life. That’s part of their being. Not that they’ve got an addiction or a problem, it’s just the fact that they enjoy doing it. It heightens the sense of a game. You know, if you’re watching a game and you want someone to win, that’s one thing. If you’ve got some money on it, that just takes it to that next level.
John Donovan: So I think from that standpoint, it’s good for now. It will continue. Esports is very different to your kind of, I think your [crosstalk 00:15:55] sports. Sports is more your gaming, your Call of Duty’s and everything else. So it is very, very different in the sense that your virtuals is just not the same.
John Donovan: It’s having its limelight right now. I think it will continue to have its limelight, but as soon as you get the real kind of blood, sweat and tears back again like I mentioned, I personally think it’s going to start taking a dip again because people will be going crazy because they will want this more, they will want to be at the games. They will want to see what’s happening and want to see the kind of condition of the players. They’ve been sitting there for three, four, five months eating a lot of burritos.
Ryan Knuppel: Who’s been working and who hasn’t. Right?
John Donovan: I think that I like it. It fills a void. I don’t think it’s going to be the next biggest thing or it’s not going to be thing that overtakes [crosstalk 00:16:44].
Ryan Knuppel: It really opened my eyes to how much I, and probably millions across the world, love sports. Like, I truly love the real sports, the competition of it, the battling of it. I think one of the things that came out of all of this for me is just that true appreciation of it. You know, working in the industry, sports industry, the gaming industry, maybe I take it for granted sometimes, that, “Oh yeah, there’s games on tonight,” or, “Oh yeah…” Just kind of, whatever.
Ryan Knuppel: But now when you don’t have it, now when you don’t have that game, you don’t have that to turn to and watch, man, you really miss it. You really miss not only watching it, but I think the culture of sports fans is to talk about it. Right? There’s something to talk about every day and there’s something to just sit down with your buddy or text your buddy. “Hey, did you see that?” We don’t have that. It really has created a void in my life and I’m sure millions of others as well. I think we’ll all come back appreciating it more here when it does-
John Donovan: Yeah, 100%. I totally agree. And do you know what, I kind of think it’s one of those things where people… The associations like the NBA and the NFL. Fingers crossed, I’m hoping and praying [crosstalk 00:17:55]. But you know, just like things like March Madness, anything else that’s been moved. I think these associations will have to do something.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah.
John Donovan: Like the UFC are doing. The guys bought an island. It’s very different. It’s not smaller. Yeah, and everything. And it can be televised and there’s not going to be people there. But my thing at the beginning was, if we can test these people, get them in, play the games behind closed doors, how it’s going to work I’m not an expert on it, but they’ve got to do something. Because generally, the amount of money, the amount of resource, the amount of people that are actually involved… Not just the stadiums and the players and the coaches and everything, but the staff, the people that work in these stadiums. They’re people that work bars at the stadiums who are probably on zero-hour contracts and things like that. They will have to do something soon because generally I think if something’s not sorted out in the next at least three to four months, I personally think the last thing that the global people economy, whatever, needs to worry about is the virus.
John Donovan: It will be a global crash in the sense of sport and everything else. Something has to change. Something has to adapt in these associations. I mean, we’re talking sport here. I know that it affects lots of [crosstalk 00:19:15] industries, but something needs to change and needs to think of a way of what they can do it because there’s only so much virtual stuff you can watch. There’s only so much esport stuff you can watch before you turn around and go, “Dude, where’s my-”
Ryan Knuppel: Well, just on top of that, the point you were making really of just how many people it affects in the sports industry. Not only the players. People think of the players, but the staff at all these places, the people at the arenas like you mentioned, and all of those people’s livelihoods are waiting for sports to come back. It’s going to be interesting. I think it’s going to be easier for a sport like UFC or golf or some of these, that it’s like one person kind of competing on their own. The individual sport, right?
John Donovan: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ryan Knuppel: Whereas these team sports, there’s just so many more people that they have to plan around. You know, like the whole baseball thing, playing their games all in Arizona. I don’t personally know how in the world they’re going to make that work. They’ve got to have agreement from all these players, all these teams, and I’ve already been reading things about players, like, “What? You expect me to go to Arizona for four months and not see my family?” Or not do this or that. That doesn’t really make sense.
Ryan Knuppel: So how are they going to get agreement? It’s easy to get an agreement from 10 UFC fighters. How are you going to get agreement from thousands of baseball players and and teams and all of that? It’s going to be difficult to really change the dynamic of the league that much in those types of big sports, I think. They’re going to have to reevaluate that, I think. I don’t think that’s going to be feasible, in my opinion, but we’ll see.
John Donovan: If you go even deeper into that, then you start looking at, they’re only really doing that so they can get the games played and obviously… the gambling industry in regards to what’s happening there. Then you look at the data [crosstalk 00:21:09] the data, so you’re… the data to say, well, did they get home advantage? Or they’re not in there, is that going to affect their play? So then you’re almost, people that are really [crosstalk 00:21:19] out there and people that are betting that really look at the data and the stats and the analytics, that’s thrown out the window, dude.
Ryan Knuppel: [crosstalk 00:21:26], yeah.
John Donovan: Good luck with that one, really.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. They’re playing seven-inning games or they’re playing this and that. Yeah, no.
John Donovan: Yeah, it’s really going to mix things up even if they do get things moving again. like you said. Hey, look. Fingers crossed. [crosstalk 00:21:44] they’re still doing the draft, there’s still obviously some stuff that’s starting to kick off. I know it’s kind of still bad in the US there, but from a UK standpoint, things are slowing down.
John Donovan: They are now having conversations around football, well soccer, when they can start that up again. They’re hoping in the next at least six weeks or so they can start playing some games, again behind closed doors. So hopefully it’s going in the right direction. But I think the main thing, like anything, you know, everyone’s got to stay safe, everyone’s got to stay well and healthy. There’s no point risking it just for a game.
Ryan Knuppel: We love to talk sports but we have to keep what’s important in mind as well. So we’re talking sports and sports betting here today, but your point there, make sure we keep our priorities and our social distancing and all of that in check, and make sure we’re not breaking those rules until we’re allowed to.
John Donovan: Exactly.
Ryan Knuppel: Well cool, buddy. I really appreciate you joining me. I don’t want to keep you all day. I think this was really just meant to touch base with you. I knew you had some nice takes on what’s going on in the industry and in the world today and I always love just joining forces and talking and getting your input on things. So definitely appreciate it. I wish you luck and let’s just keep in touch. Anything, any last words for the audience here before we go?
John Donovan: Just stay safe and as before, if anyone wants to reach out to me as before, John, at becausewecanmedia.com. We’re here to help listen and do whatever we can at the moment, because I think we all need to support each other as much as we can. So yeah, just take it easy and stay safe.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. Likewise here. I mean, I already mentioned it, but reach out to me as well. You can find us both on LinkedIn and I’ll put some links in our notes here for this as well. Hey, will you be attending either of these, or any of these virtual conferences? I know you mentioned being a premium sponsor of SBC, the Betting on Sports America event, but now they’re doing this digital version of it. Does that relate to you at all or… I’m sure you’ll be attending, but are you a sponsor? How does that work?
John Donovan: [crosstalk 00:23:47] reached out to me. As I said before, I think Because We Can media, even though we are an international brand, the whole premium sponsor thing for us was really solidifying our steps into… The US is [crosstalk 00:24:02]. We’ve got clients that are sitting in Canada and places like that now. So it was for us to just really solidify ourselves [crosstalk 00:24:07]. We still want to do that. We’re still having discussions with people, we’re kind of interviewing, which is almost a good time because again there’s a lot of people that are losing their jobs, so without sounding kind of… Taking advantage of the situation, there’s a lot of great people out there right now.
Ryan Knuppel: Oh yeah.
John Donovan: [crosstalk 00:24:27] saying [inaudible 00:24:27] that’s going on. So yes, we will try to be involved on that side of things and we will be continuing to attend some of these virtual conferences.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. It’s just not the same. Virtual is just not the same. It’s going to be fun, but we can’t share a beer together.
John Donovan: No, it’s the same as the virtual sports really.
Ryan Knuppel: Yeah.
John Donovan: Then when I get on there, I’m just like, yeah, well. But yeah, we’ll see. We carry on supporting it and we want to carry on doing that, but fingers crossed that [crosstalk 00:25:00] sign there’ll be some events that we can actually attend and we continue obviously that push.
Ryan Knuppel: for sure. For sure. All right buddy. Well, I appreciate you joining me and everybody listening or watching this. Definitely appreciate you guys always tuning into what we do. We appreciate that more than you know. John, have a great day and stay safe there.
John Donovan: All the best.
Ryan Knuppel: All right, buddy.
Ryan Knuppel: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Knup Sports Show. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider subscribing to our iTunes channel today. Plus, visit us at knupsports.com for more pics, previews, strategy, and news. That’s K-N-U-P sports.com.
Relevant for John Donovan Links
- Listen to John’s previous interview on the show here: https://www.knupsports.com/show/john-donovan-of-because-we-can-media-joins-the-show-to-talk-marketing-what-it-took-to-build-his-business/
- You can learn more about Because We Can Media here: http://becausewecanmedia.com/
More Knup Sports Links
- I refer to Knup Sports often in my show. That’s our sports passion site. Check out KnupSports.com here.
- If you are looking for my services you can find more information on the Knup Solutions website.
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Contact Ryan Knuppel
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