Using Digital Video to Engage Sports Fans
When arenas were closed to audiences, how did sports organizations maintain the emotional bond between fans and their sporting heroes? As the pandemic created physical distance, digital services stepped in to narrow the gap and – in the case of video streaming – found new ways to enhance the fan experience.
And it’s not a temporary measure; video streaming has now become a differentiator that’s helped sports brands attract new fan demographics and expand their reach beyond the physical boundaries of the pitch, court, or race track.
If you’re looking to increase engagement, three Brightcove customers recently shared six best practices they use to help make their fans feel they’re in the middle of the action, wherever they are.
1. Give Fans What They Want!
Fans know that technology and connectivity exists for live streaming and audience interaction. If you don’t offer an official channel, they’ll look for other avenues to fulfill their desire to interact. As Rocky Chow, Chief Community Officer for the Hong Kong Rugby Union, says: “Having accessible content that fans can watch before, during, and after a game is important to us. It also gives us a good opportunity to identify who our fans are and tweak the content to suit them.”
2. Tell Your Story
Everyone involved in sports makes an emotional investment. One way to acknowledge and reward this is by using video streaming to share how you’re investing in your fans. As Cody Winnell, Media & Communications Manager at Harness Racing Victoria, explains: “Just being able to tell your story in a certain way and have some control over your narrative and celebrate everything we know as passionate people in our industry. It’s something video streaming has really allowed us to do.”
3. Dive into the Detail
Your story is so much more than your brand or team’s performance. Harness Racing Victoria uses previously inaccessible stories to reach a whole new demographic – as Cody illustrates beautifully: “We had a historically aging demographic and a linear television channel. We couldn’t bring fans to live shows where they could see the drivers, the trainers, the beautiful horses and showcase their back-stories. So we introduced new digital streaming services. Now, engagement has been through the roof – the 18 to 35 age group is now our fastest growing demographic.”
4. Speed Up the Socials
Tennis is a fast game, and fans want the latest updates just as quickly. As Supervising Producer for Live Events at Tennis Australia, John O’Neil is acutely aware of the power and value of delivering rapid stats and experiences. “One of the big things that has been of great value to us is getting content into our socials as quickly as possible. We need to, because that’s what fans want. What we see is something that pops up on a fan’s Twitter or Facebook feed leads to engagement with the website, broadcaster, or YouTube channel. And that becomes a commercial opportunity as well.”
5. Maximize Multi-level Engagement
With video streaming expanding audiences and providing new experiences that fans love, organizations that combine in-person and streaming services are seeing incredible returns. Rocky Chow explains the difference it’s made for Hong Kong Rugby Union: “Fans now are getting a real-life experience as well as engaging content. While the game’s happening, you can do campaigns to engage the people watching and create more activations. Having had two years of technology and looking at ways to make it work on OTT, we can now put it back into the live environment.”
6. Offer Exclusive Content
With every phone a broadcasting device, real value comes from content fans can’t get elsewhere. Exclusive footage has been especially valuable for John O’Neil at Tennis Australia: “There’s a breakpoint you need to get to so the return on investment starts to roll in. Where we got this is by offering something that was exclusive on our platform: behind the scenes coverage. Some of it we show in the arena but what we’ve done is make the whole feed available on OTT. It’s an exclusive offer – that fans want and love – and that gives us a point of difference.”
Get more game-changing video tips by watching our webinar "Is Streaming the New Arena for Sports?".