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March 4, 2020 | Authored by: Vivian Xie

4 novel methods to connect better with sports fans

The SportsPro OTT conference held at Turner Studios last month in Atlanta was exciting and enlightening. Not only does Turner Studios host the NBA on TNT, but they also give sports analysts a platform to motivate players and fans. For one, I noticed a growing discussion on how fans increasingly want more ways to view content. Streaming has astutely satisfied this need in the recent decade, but more fans now are looking for ways to connect directly with players and teams. The movement towards watching anywhere and anytime being combined with the ability to connect with those in the game is redefining the name of the game.

While this need for connection may drive athletes to begin using other platforms to connect directly with fans, this is also an opportunity to change the name of the game when it comes to rights, broadcasting and exclusivity. Will it be DAZN or Bleacher Report that gets the permissions to create exclusive content with said athlete or broadcast the first scoop? What will all this mean for the athletes?

As more applications such as TikTok and Overtime emerge, business players in sports, entertainment and OTT must rethink how they want to host and package their content in a way that can capture the attention of a wider audience that expects instant gratification, consuming content in spurts, and variety.

These two trends are coming together in interesting ways – fans are demanding direct connections and content creators are demanding more agile methods of reaching fans. But, creators and hosts are still missing the points on how to keep fans engaged for the long haul –especially during the off seasons that make up a majority of the calendar year for most sports.

1. Focus on building trust and designing a user-centric relationship

To ensure a smooth experience for viewers, sports content providers should focus on creating subscriptions that offer clear terms and conditions, as trust demands clarity. In our previous blog post establishing user-centric relationships, we discussed a main component of building these types of relationships: knowing every individual within the account. Insights allow the subscription to respond accordingly, designing offerings that delight fans. Because the subscription is a mix of both a service and a method of access to the service, it is the most reliable way of delivering a service to the fan community to nurture the relationship with each fan.

The recurring nature of subscriptions enables sports content providers to shift their focus from simply monetizing content to creating content and features, accomplishing both goals. For instance, sports companies should not need to worry whether their service is reaching subscribers or not when the subscription lifecycle is recurring at the right time. When paced correctly, fans are likely to stay subscribed because the content is reliable. Taking into account the type of offer, pricing and what subscribers are looking for in a subscription can curb cancellations and mishaps that can disrupt the fragile relationship between a subscriber and a subscription.

2. Diversify all of the above

“TV is here to stay,” says Hannah Brown of FuboTV. On the other hand, the viewer will follow whichever screen the content is on. This is where a subscription’s capabilities become critical for diversifying content, delivery and audiences. For instance, OTT has been a godsend for smaller and medium-size properties because agile OTT can reach a wider audience. It enables companies to scale as their audiences grow, adapting to any changes in size of subscribership by pivoting offerings, type of content, delivery methods and audience segmentations when they need to.

The surefire way to keep fans engaged is to not only create more appealing content that can attract an assortment of demographics, but to also deliver it in a variety of ways that fit the customer. For example, Deloitte’s research found that millennials enjoy watching on mobile and tablets, whereas older generations prefer bigger screens and desktops. Millennials also use digital pay more frequently than older generations who prefer to pay using more traditional banks and credit cards. Offering different ways to subscribe, pay, watch and stay subscribed can help sports providers reach and retain a more diverse audience. 

3. Create partnerships

Sports companies are leveling the competitive playing field by partnering with players, teams, leagues and content aggregators as a way to collaboratively negotiate rights. The beauty of partnerships resides in the possibility of two exceptional platforms joining together to connect with each other’s most engaged audiences. That, also, is one of the top reasons for the trend showing brands and companies partnering with influencers to give both parties exclusive rights to the content. 

Like making friends and having a lot of them, creating partnerships with other resources helps position a company as more capable and popular. Sports content aggregator DAZN reached heights in diversification of viewer demographics and number of application downloads when it partnered with YouTube sensations and content creators Logan Paul and KSI to create a boxing match between them. The partnership between each influencer and DAZN allowed DAZN to capture the attention and loyalty of a brand-new audience that was not privy to DAZN’s existence prior to the partnership. The analytics gathered further inform DAZN on how to reach more previously untapped audiences using future partnerships.

4. When in doubt, aim to generate excitement and novelty

What two of Vindicia’s customers – Bleacher Report Live and Liverpool Football Club – do very well is to create buzz and excitement around their content, especially exclusive content that no other platforms have. Bleacher Report Live and Liverpool FC aggregate the highlights of a game into a brief video and use mobile applications to share exclusive information such as athlete stats and game times to fans. This way, fans can choose the information they want to look at and engage with, selecting the most exciting moments of a sport without needing to consume the entirety.

These sports OTT providers also know how to maximize the subscription lifecycle. They acquire, nurture, and retain subscribers by providing a mix of sought-after content that fans come for, reels and highlights that surprise and entertain, and promotions that delight. Being able to allow sports content providers to provide these aspects in a product is a major reason for the subscription’s existence.

Imagine finding out that college students are yearning for a place to watch competitive cheerleading at a cost that fits their budgets or that sports betting is becoming big business. The subscription is the only tool that is flexible enough to be able to quickly add new and change existing offerings. Ultimately, these new offerings can extend the average lifecycle of the subscriber and allow the product itself to keep up with the times.

Contact us to learn how we can help you win with your sports subscriptions business. And for an in-depth look at the changing sports subscription landscape, read our white paper and check out other recommendations on what growth can look like.

 

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