From Live Video to Social Media: How to Keep Sports Fans Chanting around the World

From Live Video to Social Media: How to Keep Sports Fans Chanting around the World

Sporting events naturally generate discussion. Whether with your friends, or a group of strangers, there's always something to say about the latest game or the next international mega event. And, social media has caused a massive surge in conversation online, especially around sports, with Twitter leading the way. Eight of Twitter's top 20 moments have been major sporting events and currently 50 percent of all Twitter conversations centre around sport – a massive number considering 500 million tweets are sent a day.

But it's not just living room and stadium viewing of sports that are driving social media conversations. Online video is playing a core role in generating the noise. Take the 2012 London Olympics, for example, not only did it trigger a massive 110,000 tweets per minute, it also led to record views on the BBC’s sport website, with 29 million requests to watch video in just the first week!

I'm struck by how often industry conversation comes back to video's ability to enhance the social nature of sport. Rob Oubridge, founder and CEO from digital agency Aqueduct spoke to this topic at a recent sports marketing event where he discussed Manchester City Football Club's focus on integrating more live and on-demand content. He stressed that the team's (Brightcove Video Cloud-powered) approach to online video is a great example of what second screen, behind-the-scenes experiences can do for viewer engagement. By providing access to an online video library, Manchester City has enabled its fans to access top-quality content anywhere in the world, on any type of device.

At the event, we also heard from digital start-up Huggity which has taken matters a step further by creating virtual stadiums for its clients which enables fans to feel as though they're a part of the game. CEO Mike Sikorski has stressed that personalisation is a big part of the future of sports – thinking that led to the company's creation of a virtual stadium for Manchester United at the Old Trafford arena – the second largest football stadium in the U.K. Since just two percent of fans have visited the stadium, these football lovers were offered the opportunity to tag themselves via Facebook in a virtual Old Trafford stadium, allowing absent fans to take part in a group fan picture. Over a ten-day period, the site generated a gigantic 1.7 million+ Facebook posts and photos.

Fans are calling for more choice in their viewing options, and we’re now seeing sports organisations and clubs using live video to enhance and personalise their fans' experiences. In a broadcasting first for the U.K., The Football Association used Brightcove Video Cloud to air an opening FA Cup match live on Facebook. This gave all the fans who couldn't get to the game the chance to watch it live, instead of having to wait for the highlights later on, and it triggered greater engagement than is normally possible with more than 20,000 tuning in to watch.

Sport has often been described as the universal language that breaks down barriers. That sentiment really does ring true when you give the viewer the choice of what, where and how to watch it. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook bring viewers from around the world into one virtual living room to banter, cheer on or argue about the game. Just imagine if live video streaming or social media had been around when the infamous 'Hand of God' goal happened in the 1986 World Cup final between England and Argentina; it probably would have been trending on Twitter for days!

Video is the perfect medium for extending that participation and engagement with athletics – whether that's before, during or beyond the game itself. It gives fans access to all the content they want –the spontaneity of news or the joy of replaying match highlights – and means they always have something to talk about with the wider Twittersphere or a stranger in the pub.

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