In the midst of a vital time for World Volleyball, we spoke to the body’s CEO, Finn Taylor, who described the key strategies for the sport moving forward as it looks to maximise growth and fan engagement. 

Payment Expert: Firstly, how crucial is this period for the Volleyball World as you build towards the Olympics? 

Finn Taylor: The Olympics are no doubt one of the pinnacles of the global sports stage, capturing the attention and imagination of people from all corners of the globe. For Volleyball World, it is a key opportunity to shine a spotlight on the sport, both indoor and beach volleyball, and ensure that we fully leverage the promotion potential of the Games with the eyes of the world watching. 

We aim to connect with existing fans on a deeper level and attract new ones through captivating storytelling, exclusive content and a sense of anticipation that builds excitement. We want fans to feel like an integral part of this journey, to be emotionally invested in the success of their favourite athletes and teams.

PE: What steps can you take to maximise engagement during the period of qualifiers, building to the Olympics? 

FT: To maximise engagement, we are focusing on several key strategies. First and foremost, we are focused on creating compelling storytelling around the athletes and teams on their Olympic journeys. 

Our aim is to then tell these stories through our digital platforms. We are utilising our official website as the hub for all things volleyball, providing exciting coverage around the journeys of teams, from the qualifiers and until the remaining Olympic spots are decided in June 2024, after the preliminary rounds of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) where the stakes will be higher than ever. 

Meanwhile, our social media channels serve as a key part of our digital ecosystem for interacting with fans. Here, we bring the biggest stories from the sport to life around the clock to engage with fans. We are also heavily invested in our OTT platform, VBTV, offering live streams, highlights and exclusive content. 

Through this integrated, digital ecosystem, we are empowering fans to engage with and consume the sport whenever and wherever they want. 

PE: Can you tell us more about the collaboration with Mikasa and how important this extension was? 

FT: The extension of our collaboration with Mikasa is huge for both the sport and the collective efforts of Volleyball World and the FIVB.

Mikasa’s affiliation with the sport goes back to 1964, when volleyball was first included in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. To recently extend for a further eight years speaks volumes about the robustness of this relationship and, more importantly, reflects the global appeal of the sport.

At its core, this partnership with Mikasa is multi-dimensional. One of its key facets is the exclusive use of Mikasa indoor and beach volleyballs at our events. This might seem like a subtle detail, but it plays a monumental role in the consistent promotion of the Mikasa brand. 

When the world’s finest athletes compete with Mikasa equipment on the biggest stages of volleyball, it is a testament to the quality and performance of Mikasa products. This not only benefits Mikasa but also ensures that our athletes have access to the very best equipment, setting the stage for exceptional performances.

It is integral to our ongoing efforts to engage fans, grow the sport globally, and further the sport’s commercial appeal by aligning with a brand that shares our vision and passion for volleyball’s success.

PE: In terms of media rights and broadcasting, can you give us more details about your strategy when it comes to drawing as many eyes to the sport as possible? 

FT: Our overarching strategy for media rights and broadcasting is laser-focused on amplifying the reach of volleyball and making it more accessible and engaging.

We are actively partnering with major broadcasters in key markets to ensure that fans in different regions can easily tune in to watch out competitions – including ESPN in Latin America, Polsat in Poland and FanCode in India. 

Meanwhile, we are working to ensure VBTV is a hub for all things volleyball, with the biggest international and league competitions, and the world’s best, superstar athletes, for fans to watch whenever and wherever they want. To this end, we are collaborating with the biggest volleyball leagues in the world, including the men’s and women’s Italian professional leagues and Big Ten in the USA. 

By embracing a multi-faceted approach, we aim to ensure that volleyball becomes more than just a sport – it’s an experience that engages, entertains and connects fans worldwide.

PE: Volleyball sets a high standard when it comes to equality, how important is this for you and can you give us some more information about the initiatives you have taken? 

FT: Championing and advocating for equality is really important to us and volleyball has consistently set the gold standard for gender equality among team sports. Both men’s and women’s games receive equal attention from the sport’s gender equal fanbase, and of course equal prize money has been the case for many, many years now. 

Our continuous efforts in advancing gender equality are evident in initiatives such as the ‘Equal Jersey’ campaign, an innovative approach to raising awareness through the sport’s stars.

For a demonstration of the extraordinary power and potential of women’s volleyball, you only need to look at the record-breaking Volleyball Day in Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. Women’s sports, and volleyball in particular, provide a powerful platform for brands to improve their perception, promote their own social impact programmes and reach new audiences. 

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