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So What Now?... Solving The Sports Content Puzzle

The sports industry is going through unprecedented times. No prospect of any live sport for the coming weeks leaves broadcasters, rights holders and brands scrambling for content to service their customers. The speed of the global lockdown has caught a number of sports organisations off guard and without any real content strategy of note. Technological developments have meant that we are more connected than ever before, but there are still some limitations to the nature of what content clubs and governing bodies have been able to produce and distribute. The spectrum of content that has been released recently seems to come from one of two main areas...

  1. Archive Content. Everyone from professional Teams, Governing Bodies and Broadcasters are filling their days with key events from the past, aiming to provide entertainment and a nod to happier times as a tool to cheer up the nation. Broadcasters scheduling archive content as live: BBC to screen a summer of sport - Clubs creating watch along events: Arsenal Reloaded -

  2. First Person Selfie Videos. Technology has made it easier for us to receive content from our favourite athletes and on the whole this is created using mobile phone cameras. The content has generally fallen into one of two main areas as well Live Streaming Video Games. Most major sports have found ways for athletes to “compete” in a virtual space. Football has seen publishers like Copa90 bring together Premier League footballers for live gaming streams of FIFA20 - Educational Content. Rights Holders and athletes are taking the opportunity to create and distribute educational and training content to help drive productivity during the lockdown.

Commercially, a number of rights holders have banned any form of commercial messaging from their digital channels, however this will leave them with a huge surplus of rights that they need to deliver in order to fulfil their contractual obligations when the doors to sport reopen. Sow what can be done? How can rights holders continue to deliver value for both their audience and their brand partners?

  1. BUILD A NARRATIVE - Create a reason for fans to come back to your content time after time. Currently most archive content that clubs and governing bodies are publishing feels ad hoc. They are individual events that fail to tie in with the next content piece aside from the fact that they were “great moments”. There are a number of different storylines at organisation’s disposal that allow them a regular reason to be posting archive content

Topicality - Take the lead from things that are happening (or were due to happen) in the real world

  • Fixtures - If you’re team were due to play Team X that week, why not highlight the best 3 games vs Team X in the lead up to live streaming last season’s/the best game vs Team X at the time the game was due to happen

    • Anniversaries - celebrate key anniversaries with multiple content pieces showcasing the lead up to that event

Retrospectives - every team will have a season/tournament/event that resonates with their fan base. Take a longer look back by creating a multi-part series. These could include

  • Reviews of great seasons/events

  • Categorise types of content

Rugby - Best Long Distance Tries, Best Try-saving Tackles, Best pressure kicks

Golf - Best comebacks, Best Chips, Best Long Distance Putts

Football - Best Headers, Best Skills, Best Tackles

Athlete focus - “the events that shaped my career”

2. USE AUDIO TO CREATE HIGH QUALITY CONTENT - At a time where it’s so difficult to create new premium content (hence the explosion of selfie/Zoom content), audio gives the opportunity to create high quality content simply due to its low entry cost and low technical requirement. The current spike in radio listening demonstrates that consumers are looking for familiar voices to provide them a level of comfort at this time. Sports Organisations can look to capitalise on this and build an audience within the audio space through the creation of regular audio content. One important thing to note, especially at a time when budgets are stretched beyond all expectations, there are huge opportunities to create new and engaging long form podcast/digital audio programming from existing video and audio content. There are 3 potential content concepts that can take advantage of the opportunity within the audio content space

  • Repurposing and Optimising Existing Content - eg Season Reviews and Retrospectives. Combine archive commentaries and interviews with some bespoke links to create engaging new podcast formats. CONTENT EXAMPLE - “Review of Season X”

  • Long-Form Interviews - 1 on 1 or multi person interviews as part of a series that follow a specific narrative. Audio allows for high quality content capturing without requiring the athlete/talent to have a huge technical ability and very little set-up cost. CONTENT EXAMPLE - “What Drove Me”, athletes talking about their progression from youth sports to the highest level

  • Docu-series - Requires the most production resource. Features a number of contributors through long form interviews that can be spliced with archive content to tell a story over multiple episodes. CONTENT EXAMPLE - “THE LIONS MYTH”, look into Lions Rugby Tours through the eyes of the players and staff

Commercially it is a difficult time for sports organisations to generate or recognise revenue, however this is not impossible. Podcasts in particular are a great way of generating revenue because their audiences are generally happy to have brands integrated. Brands are seen to empower the creators to generate the content for the audiences that can be enjoyed for free through the various podcast platforms. There are a couple of lessons that can be learned form the podcast industry and transferred into other content environments...

- Credible Commercial Messaging - Audiences don’t necessarily like brands that badge content with no real link between the two, however if you can create a narrative that fits both the content and the sponsor you can have real success. Finding that link between the brand and the content, however tenuous, gives an element of permission for the rights holder to be publishing the content. If the content is providing real value to the consumer, they will accept the commercial messaging, particularly if there is a link between the brand and the content. Examples of this could be utilising archive content to tell stories about heritage, success and time (all fit a number of luxury brands/categories) as well as stories about player/team journeys fitting brand messaging for car/travel brands.

- Find Other Ways To Monetise - If organisations are too reticent to feature commercial messaging within their content, there are some other ways to generate revenue opportunities through third parties.

  • Generate advertising revenues through third party publishers/platforms. Ensure that your organisation is set up for the pre/mid roll advertising products on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as well as podcast platforms like Acast and AudioBoom. These formats demonstrate no association between the brand and your content, however they are an effective way of monetising both your audience and your content.

    • Content Partnerships/Syndication. Work with publishers to find new ways to take advantage of your athlete access. This may cover syndicating your existing content (for a fee) or by creating new content in partnership with a publisher and allowing them to monetise it on a revenue sharing basis.

If you would like some advice as to how you can to generate revenue opportunities from your digital content in the current lockdown or indeed once the doors are re-opened, please get in touch with us here at First Five Yards. We are a digital sports consultancy that helps sports organisations to monetise their digital footprint by bridging the gap between the Commercial and Digital Content Teams within your organisation.

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