What possibilities might exist when a leading global sports-media brand converges with a cutting-edge software developer within the confines of a classroom at a top-tier post-secondary institution? That very question is being answered inside the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, where FOX Sports and Microsoft Corp. unite as part of the FOX Sports University program.
A program now offered at 35 schools nationwide, FOX Sports U presents college students with project challenges touching various aspects of FOX Sports’ businesses and partnerships. This most recent FOX Sports U project is done in partnership with marketing professionals who work at Microsoft and offers UW students a real life challenge and the opportunity to shape the product.
“Our team is thrilled to have the opportunity to support and partner with students on business and marketing challenges. We plan to take the best student ideas and recommendations seriously — students will have the opportunity to pitch to Microsoft leaders on a real-world business challenge on campus in Redmond. But even more important, the best ideas have the opportunity to shape the future innovation in the product and strategy.” – Lindsay Bayne, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft
The most recent marketing challenge at UW involved students utilizing Microsoft OneNote to streamline the preparation process for FOX Sports’ roster of on-air broadcasters. Students were encouraged to also consider recommendations and ideas on how technology can enhance the fan experience and drive engagement with Fox Sports media properties, as well as OneNote.
The newly developed FOX LAB is a designed approach to exploring technical partnerships that gives viewers a fresh perspective. FOX Sports and Microsoft are exploring new ways of enhancing the fan experience through this technical and creative partnership under FOX Sports University.
In January, professor Abhishek Borah’s upper-level marketing class saw opening presentations from Microsoft in Education’s marketing team and FOX Sports U program administrators, with a special guest visit from FOX Sports’ lead college football game analyst and former record-setting collegiate quarterback Joel Klatt. A zealot for preparation, Klatt detailed his thorough weekly process for the students, hinting at ways they could enhance the efficiency of the task for broadcasters across the realm of the profession.
“I was blown away by the attentiveness, curiosity and creativity the students showed during the opening presentations,” Klatt said. “This project offers a real-world opportunity for them to potentially impact our industry in a positive way. I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with.”
During the opening presentations, Microsoft and FOX Sports presented a challenge that touched on integrating Microsoft’s OneNote application, a digital notebook for everything in your life, to further enhance the sports experience for fans, broadcasters and coaches.
The upper-level marketing class divided into teams to tackle the project challenge, and midway through the quarter, both Microsoft and FOX Sports representatives returned to the University of Washington to meet with each group in private to discuss their strategy, ideas and give them the opportunity to ask any questions.
Students who participate in FOX Sports University have the opportunity to design multi-faceted campaigns focused around a specific FOX Sports business challenges. Since its inception eight years ago, FOX Sports University now counts close to 3,500 students as having participated in the coursework across the program.
FOX Sports University alumna, Kelly Krater, from the University of Michigan joined the Microsoft team last year and is now giving advice and feedback to students who are tackling a marketing challenge like she was during her FOX Sports University senior project.
“Bringing a real-world challenge like this into the classroom, where students get to interact and dive into a project with two forward-thinking brands supporting them and dedicated to making a difference in academia is our ultimate goal. Seeing the program come full-circle, when a former FOX Sports University student graduates and lands a job with our partner Microsoft and a year later becomes involved in the program from the other side, is very rewarding to see.” – Kaitlyn Beale, Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships at FOX Sports.
At the end of the quarter, the top teams from University of Washington will pitch their ideas back to Microsoft and FOX Sports at Microsoft’s headquarters in Washington.