As the pandemic brought a sudden and dramatic change to the sports world last spring, one thing that remained was the loyalty of fans who still craved the action and connection to their favorite teams and players. Video broadened its role in filling that void, uniting teams and fans like never before with experiences that could often rival the plays on the field or in an arena.
In a recent Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit, I talked with Stephanie Paterik, Executive Editor of Adweek, about what we're seeing at the fascinating intersection of sports and video.
The trends and examples in our conversation coalesced around three themes.
CREATIVITY WITH SHOULDER CONTENT
Leading teams, leagues, broadcasters, and publishers find new and unique ways to tap into the power of video to stay connected with their audiences.
The LPGA streamed virtual World Golf Tour (WGT) matches with some of its leading players, engaging fans with a new level of access that included some friendly trash talk.
Manchester City, in the English Premier League, offered their 'Cityzens' online lessons and training for kids when matches weren't being played and video diaries of their players helping in the community. They also made their City+ OTT service free for during the pandemic, with archived games available for rewatching.
The Golden State Warriors created Dubs Draft Room, delivering a video-heavy second screen experience for fans (and revenue for the club, as it was sponsored by Chase).
One Fighting Championship, a mixed martial arts leader in Asia, created and streamed their version of The Apprentice reality show competition featuring athletes, celebrities and corporate sponsors.
DELIVERING UNIQUE FAN EXPERIENCES
While nothing compares to the sights and sounds of a live event, video opens up a whole new world that lets passionate fans experience the game in their own way.
Fans may get the opportunity to isolate certain players or moments from a game or leverage interactive layers and scrolling timelines.
For fans into stats and metrics, teams can assemble video archives that track players' careers and records, often scaling content creation with AI-based solutions
Some teams or leagues have their own editors assemble thematic clip packages for fans, creating editorial around them with articles, commentary and social engagement. GolfTV's '2000s Week' and 'Power Week' were themes designed to get fans through the initial pause in the action last spring.
'Watch with' functionality enables fans using services like BT Sport to co-view games from different locations with their video experiences in sync - sometimes privately amongst friends and sometimes in different public forums featuring special sport celebrity guest participation.
EMBRACING EACH SPORT'S PERSONALITY
What does your sport have that no other sport offers? By focusing on a unique trait or aspect, leaders create ownable, differentiated video experiences that fans will enjoy:
The England and Wales Cricket Board developed the interactive video experience 'Out, Not Out,' letting online fans play the role of online umpire reviewing and ruling on video clips.
Polls, quizzes and virtual chats focused on specific trends, rules or historical moments of a sport engage fans during the season and off-season.
For hardcore golf fans, the infinite 'shelf space' of the internet lets the PGA Tour stream every shot from every player in certain tournaments. This investment adds up to tens of thousands of individual video moments and greater engagement and monetization opportunities.
Relatedly, with golf and tennis tournaments featuring players from multiple countries, rights holders now enable loyal fans to cue-up performances from hometown favorites even when they are not atop the leaderboard or on Centre Court.
A WINNING FUTURE
Even as in-person events slowly resume, the innovation across the sports landscape over the past year has produced video experiences which will persist.
Fans will continue to demand a rich, engaging viewing environment for their favorite team or sport, but while errors or fouls are part of the games they watch, they will not abide the same in terms of skipping, lagging, or poor-quality video.
This is why sports organizations across the globe count on Brightcove to deliver a quality, broadcast-grade viewing experience that is highly scalable, highly redundant and global. For us, the game is never a game.
If you would like to discuss how Brightcove can work for you, please get in touch with us. We'd love to help.