Interesting blog post from the IP specialists at Consor covering their efforts to place a value on athletes (well, not just athletes, but any of their client “assets”).

Their approach syncs well with our service at TrendTopics.

We cover a lot of athletes and our catalog expands every month, sometimes quite rapidly depending upon the dynamics in a particular sport.  We’re now cover 350+ athlete brands along with their respective teams or affiliations.  We even monitor and measure the league brands as they begin to market and sell themselves as media entities.  Effectively we cover the entire sport brand food chain.   We’re on track to hit 1,200 athletes this year (celebrity tracking is on a similar trajectory)!

Unlike the familiar “Q score” mentioned in the post, we’ve deployed a faceted model involving both traditional media channels, social media sources, discussion groups and search metrics.  We use about 15,000 media sources segmented into 25 different media types or channels.   By tracking thousands of brands, trends, topics, influencers and other entities we’re able to generate an accurate metric (TrendSignal) that captures the media prominence for any entity (asset?) in our growing catalog.

Sentiment and search interest are also part of our overall metric.

I don’t want this to become a Q score-bashing post.  Q scores have their place in valuation model.  But, I’ve always felt Q scores did not take into account the dynamics of celebrity and athlete marketability.    Some of the lowest Q score athletes garner the most money and endorsements.   Take LeBron James for example.  Lowest + most negative Q Score of any basketball player in the league.   But he’s the highest paid, most viewed, and garners the most endorsement value.  Why?  Because “like-ability” – which is essentially what the score measures – does not strongly correlate with marketability.  Actually, I would suggest that it has nothing to do with how/when/why an athlete or celebrity interacts in the world around them at all.   Most research suggest that negative sentiment can have a positive effect on brand visibility depending upon the brands current visibility within it’s peer group.   In some cases a low Q score can be a good thing.

The Q Score is like a hammer.  Everything looks like a nail to it (and it’s mainly the media quoting q scores that are at fault).

But it’s been around for a long time and it’s quoted all over the place.  That goes along way to creating a reasonable metric.  But things are changing.

Ok.  Q Score bashing off.

In comparison, our methodology is straightforward, leverages today’s media landscape, takes a big-data gulp and above all, it’s very effective.   The underlying analytics are based upon the idea that if you can track a massively broad array of entities (brands, topics, trends, influencers, etc.) and ensure exhaustive and consistent coverage by industry or market, you can in turn generate a powerful percentile rank index that illustrates the relative position of those entities.  Of course our approach is no substitute for classic surveys (i.e. Q scores) and focus groups which provide segment and demographic breakouts.

I like to think we’re a nice complement to a survey approach.

But back to the post.  I thought I’d check to see where one of our athletes ranked on media value and TrendSignal mentioned in the post.  Let’s take one of Nike’s leading athletes Tiger Woods as an example.

The table and charts on Tiger Woods‘ media performance over the prior 4-years needs little introduction.  His overall TrendSignal score has been steadily declining.  Media volumes are down, but beginning to level-off.  More disturbing is the retreating media momentum over the prior year.  He’s just not getting a break in the media and there doesn’t seem to be an upside around the corner.

His media value for the current month (we’re just finishing our June refresh, so we should have updated figures on Tiger Woods in the next few days) is $10,802,186.  The brand’s trailing 12-month total is $115,236,155.    So his monthly run rate is quite consistent, close to $10.8M/mo.

How about LeBron James?  Here’s a bottom feeder in the Q score world.

Consider that LeBron James has remained one of the most disliked players in the league.  Correspondingly, he has garnered traditionally low Q Scores.  As mentioned earlier, his salary and marketability remain high and he is one of the most coveted players in the game, particularly has he just entered free agent status.

Looking at his media profile suggest he may be entering a period low media momentum.  His momentum has been surging through the last season as the Miami Heat moved into the NBA Championships.  But the wind is gone from his media sales.  The June reporting period is likely to show a spike in coverage around LeBron as the free agent period goes into full swing.  It’s a funny thing with professional sports and the media.

My goal is to provide a little color commentary on how different companies approach valuations on athletes.  We take a faceted media approach while companies like Consor blend traditional reputations measures (Q scores) with their own internal metrics.  I believe we’re a nice media-focused complement to their approach.  And we can provide ongoing metric coverage of any athlete or celebrity after deals and contracts have been signed.