Live sports have always connected fans around a passionate shared experience. And yet the way we engage with our favorite players, share our passion for the game and interact with the sport has changed dramatically over the past 25 years.
When I was growing up in the early 90s, most of the sporting experience centered around broadcasting on TV, watching the game at home with friends, or going to the game itself. Sure, you could listen to the pre-game on the radio, watch the highlights on TV, and read stories, but the only way to really connect with your favorite players was to go to the game and beat the crowds. just to try and get an autograph.
Fast forward 20 years later to 2013, and I was working in marketing at T-Mobile where we hosted the very first Tweetup as part of the MLB All-Star game in New York with the 2013 MLB Rookie of the Year. Bryce Harper. Fans were more than happy to tweet Bryce to ask questions and chat with him in real time. Most of the fans who tweeted that day would never get the chance to meet Bryce in person, but they felt an incredible connection that wouldn’t have been possible before the rise of social media.
Four short years later, we are living in the age of live broadcasting. With live content platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat, the conversation and connection between fans, players and teams is richer and more immediate than ever. With the push of a button, players and teams can stream their own content from the locker room, gym, or even from their homes, giving fans a closer connection than ever to their lives on and off the planet. ground.
Leagues and sports teams are capitalizing on this trend. Earlier this fall, the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Sounders and San Francisco Giants became the first professional sports teams to promote Instagram Stories content live in the stadium thanks to a partnership with my company.
Today, live social content on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter has mingled with the gaming experience, and sports teams and brands are seeing the volume of conversation with fans increase as a result. In fact, when live social content is shown on giant stadium video screens, pro teams see an increase in social engagement with fans within an hour on match days.
I recently had the chance to chat with Eric Long, Production Manager for the Philadelphia Eagles, about how they use live content during games. “Our content team puts a lot of resources into providing fans with unique match day experiences through live social content,” Long said. “Showing this work to over 65,000 people in the stadium is a great opportunity to continue to grow our audience and add value. “
As traditional media platforms continue to experience a negative decline in revenue growth, sponsorship of live sports content is booming. According to a recent survey, 98% of sports marketers have chosen social media as the best way to take full advantage of sponsorship. Sports sponsorships also increased 4.3% in 2017, accounting for $ 16.37 billion of total sponsorship spending in North America.
Whether it’s watching games on demand or consuming shorter and snacking content on platforms like Snapchat, the way fans consume sports is changing rapidly. This season Facebook to stream college sports live, while also with recaps and highlights from NFL games thanks to a deal with the NFL. Amazon broadcasts Thursday night NFL games for Prime members, while Twitter now broadcasts varsity sports 24/7, as well as MLB games on Friday nights.
Trends like augmented reality and virtual reality are also reshaping the way fans interact – from stadium VR experiences to new apps that enable group VR viewings similar to multiplayer video games. Wendy just teamed up with Fox Sports to create a virtual reality experience where fans can not only watch matches together, but also experience the action on the pitch from multiple angles with instant user-controlled replays.
The smartest sports marketers rotate as fast as possible to not only sponsor on-demand and virtual reality content, but also to leverage live content and storytelling more broadly. In this year’s Finals, the NBA produced content exclusively for Snapchat, while the NHL created a playoff beard filter to help bring Stanley Cup fans closer together.
The rise of live streaming will continue to redefine the way we consume sport. As platforms and content strategies evolve rapidly, traditional media are becoming less and less relevant. Everyone, from individual athletes to teams to brands, uploads content to bring their fans closer to the game while creating new experiences in partnership with technology players.
It’s not inconceivable that one day we would see a sports star create a 24/7 live stream of his life at the The Truman Show or a VR experience where you can put on your headset and join them live in the field.
My son’s generation will not understand fighting for autographs. His favorite teams and players will interact with him in totally different ways that we haven’t even imagined yet. For fans of the future, connecting with your favorite players will no longer be just a dream.