Reaching Beyond Stadiums and Arenas to Engage Sports Fans
GUEST POST; Alison Flato, CMSG marketing intern
It‘s been a very exciting summer in the sporting world – the NBA Finals, the US Open, the Lebron James free agency frenzy and the World Cup. These events, in particular the World Cup, have redefined social entertainment on a global scale and pose some interesting thoughts and questions about the future the fan experience online.
Twitter recently reported that on a normal day users generate 65 million tweets, an average of 750 tweets per second. During the final game of the NBA playoffs last month between the L.A. Lakers and the Boston Celtics, Twitter recorded 3,085 tweets per second, that’s over 4 times as many Tweets as the Twitter average on a normal day, and more than 185,000 tweets every minute. Earlier this month, NBA superstar Lebron James joined twitter with the handle @KingJames and in just 7 hours amassed over 150,000 followers, outpacing the growth of other famous figures on Twitter including Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Even more recently, the World Cup shattered web and social media records. CNET reported that the World Cup’s first day on Friday June 11 set a new record for Internet traffic – news sites reached over 12 million visitors per minute by noon Eastern Time. These figures surpassed Barack Obama’s Election Day record of 8.5 million visitors per minute in 2008. The World Cup also broke the NBA Finals record for Tweets per second with users publishing 3,283 tweets per second at the close of Japan’s victory over Denmark. There was so much Facebook chatter about World Cup players that The New York Times launched a visualization resizing World Cup Players based on the buzz they generated on Facebook on any given day. More than 1 million fans watch the U.S. vs. Algeria game online and during the tournament the English team’s Facebook page racked up over 500,000 fans, more than any other team.
Sports fans want more than just the who, what, when and where that is usually associated with breaking sports news. Simply reporting news is not enough – sports fans want information that sparks discussion and they want to consume this information in a place that enables them to participate in and fuel this discussion. In an era in which breaking news has become a commodity, the way to reach sports fans is through what happens around news breaks. As the sports content category evolves, winners of this game will provide more than just the breaking the news – they will provide an immersive experience that gives fans a rich, ongoing relationship with a specific event, athlete or team by providing a collection of engaging content.
The next global sporting event is the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the World Cup shattering web records, we can only imagine the fan demand for online content two years from now. In order to deliver the immersive and interactive experience today’s fans demand, The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has chosen to partner with Cisco – Cisco Eos will serve as the social entertainment platform for the London 2012 Olympic Games. LOCOG will use Eos to create multiple fan experiences built around content leading up to and throughout the Games. During the games, fans will have one online destination to access video footage and commentary, commiserate and celebrate with other fans, and share their own content as they experience the Games whether it’s in the stadium or in their home. LOCOG has already launched two sites on Eos: the London 2012 Mascots Site and the London 2012 Inspire Programme Site.
Cisco and LOCOG are not the only ones shaking things up in the sports world. Recently we discussed the partnership between Warner Music Group and MTV Networks bringing together complementary skills and assets to better monetize their online, digital content. A similar deal was announced this past month in the sports entertainment arena – Sports Illustrated and Turner Sports have teamed up to deliver an online sports powerhouse combining Turner’s digital media experience with Sports Illustrated’s editorial content. The companies hope to build an online sports destination that rivals that of ESPN.com or Yahoo Sports by leveraging each other’s operating strengths and providing the immersive experience fans want.
These continue to be very interesting times and the sports industry (just like other parts of the media and entertainment industry) must evolve to meet the changing habits of fans. We think that this latest partnership between Sports Illustrated and Turner Broadcasting is an exciting step toward creating new revenue streams for sports content online. In launching the newly named Turner-SI Digital portfolio, Sports Illustrated and Turner Sports will be able to provide additional opportunities for advertisers to expand their reach to access more consumers at multiple touch points. It also provides an interesting opportunity for sponsorships across multiple platforms all the while providing an even richer experience for the sports fan.
There is no shortage of content and distraction online, but what is sometimes harder to find is quality content delivered in a personal and interactive experience. Whatever contributes to the not only the increase of quality content, but also improves the online fan experience is good not only for fans, but also for the industry.