ON24 Survey: Why Athletes Are a ‘Home Run’ for Virtual Events

Amid concerns over the economy, companies are turning to athletes to engage audiences

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – September 29, 2011 – ON24, the global leader in webcasting and virtual event solutions, revealed the results of its recent survey of over 100,000 executives to coincide with naming San Francisco Giants Pitcher Brian Wilson as the host of its VUE2011 virtual events user conference. ON24’s executive survey demonstrates Wilson’s participation in the VUE is part of a larger trend: 71% say athletes are being used frequently in corporate events, with 18% asserting that athletes are being used more frequently than ever before.

The polled executives, who came from a broad range of industries across the United States, believe athletes are better received at corporate events instead of traditional business speakers for the following reasons:

  • 64% say athletes don’t talk in “corporate speak” and instead speak like “real people”
  • 27% insist that sports has a true relevance to the business world
  • 25% think we have developed trust in athletes by watching them perform on a regular basis
  • 11% believe we hate our jobs and wish we could something we love like athletes do

Another reason cited by 22% of executives for more companies using athletes for corporate events was that the economy has weakened people’s confidence in traditional corporate speakers. Overall, executives admitted to being pessimistic about the economy and how leaders in Washington could fix the problem, with 75% of them fearing that the economy will get worse and 62% of them fearing politicians cannot agree for the common good. The survey was conducted Friday, September 23, 2011, the day after the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced initial claims for unemployment rose in August from July.

Executives described several qualities in sports that apply to business, either agreeing or strongly agreeing that teamwork was the number one quality (90%), followed by reacting quickly (82%), persistence (78%), celebrating victories (74%), and being the best (73%). More than three quarters of executives (79%) polled agreed originality was the most important quality for an interesting corporate event emcee, followed by professional demeanor (73%) and a winning record (57%). The quality that impressed executives the least was a liberal ideology (11%), closely followed by a conservative one (19%).

Executives listed several benefits to seeing their favorite athlete from their own computer or mobile device instead of “in the flesh,” including:

  • 75% appreciate watching athletes at their convenience
  • 48% don’t want to camp out for a good seat
  • 43% want to “fast forward” through an athlete’s address if they get bored
  • 33% want the ability to forward the address if they want to share it with friends

“With the economy suffering, our survey shows that three out of four executives are either using or considering using virtual events in the next 12 months because they are the perfect solution for companies wanting to communicate effectively in a tough market,” said ON24 Vice President and CMO Denise Persson. “We asked Brian Wilson to join our team for the VUE because we knew he had the qualities that executives look for and ON24 shares – originality and top performance. During this time of economic uncertainty these executives don’t ‘fear the beard,’ but an uncertain economy. At ON24, we are dedicated to providing webcasting and virtual event solutions that lead to the engaging communication enterprises need to score a home run.”

About ON24, Inc.

The recognized global market share leader, ON24 provides webcasting and virtual environments for corporate communications and demand generation. The ON24 platform is a complete Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud offering; no deployment resources or audience downloads are required. ON24 offers fully integrated, enterprise-wide solutions for applications ranging from partner expos, user conferences and trade shows to training, sales enablement and company town hall meetings. More than 750 organizations, including IBM, Cisco, CA Technologies, Merck, AstraZeneca, Fiserv, Credit Suisse, GE and Oracle, rely on ON24. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices throughout the world. For more information, visit www.ON24.com.