From at the Game to @theGame
Today, the fan rules in every sense. ESPN surveys have found that fans are choosing to rule from the comfort of their couch - or wherever they have their mobile device. In the 1990s, 70 percent of all fans preferred to attend a game over watching it on TV. Today, those numbers are reversing. Even avid fans would prefer to watch on TV than attend in person with others.
By watching outside of the stadium, fans can control their own “narrative” of the game by connecting to social media and tweeting, posting, and sharing content as the game unfolds, wherever they are. So it falls to the sports programs to create an in-game experience that extends online and follows fans. Where do you start? Consider these three steps.
Give them a Place to Meet, and Meet Them There - Engage with Fans on Their Preferred Platform
Community tools like websites and apps make it easier for fans to receive and consume information important to them. This includes information about an upcoming game from start times to information on food and beverage options within the stadium.
Livestreaming is an even better way to give your fans an all-access showcase of your team’s games or event experiences. Creating compelling videos recorded from field level perspectives can improve engagement by making fans watching at home feel like they are at the game. 30% of fans stream games to their phones or tablets — it makes sense to appeal to this fairly sizable demographic. You can also humanize your athletes by producing content highlighting the strengths and off the field interests of your players.
Give Them What They Came For – Live Content Drives Stronger Engagement
Live content is now driving stronger engagement with fans and as a result, programs and brands are shifting their focus to live social platforms ahead of traditional channels. The result? A stronger reach and deeper fan engagement.
Nike live streamed Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to run a marathon in less than two hours as a part of its #breaking2 campaign. Fans across the running community tuned in to watch it live and join the conversation. NBC and Snapchat debuted an NHL playoff beard filter to help bring the Stanley Cup “into the hands of fans.” UCLA Athletics uses Instagram Stories to go behind the scenes at practices and games. Instead of having fans visit the ESPN app to check scores, Duke posts both gameday and final score graphics on their Instagram story in an effort to drive more people to their athletic website.
Fuel the Fire – Statistics and Analytics Meet the Demand of the Fans
The average fans demands for in-game information and data are becoming more prominent. And the rabid fan can never get enough. Fantasy sports and a genuine curiosity in the games they love have increased fans’ demand, if not need, for live statistics and analytics in real time. Teams should lean into this desire, using technology to provide the fans with more data while they watch games.
Leaderboards, up-to-the-minute statistical updates, data visualization, and the capability for in-stadium betting takes the entertainment experience to another level. Using technology to bring data closer to fans is critical to maintain and grow fan engagement.
Everyone Still Loves Sports
The sports fan isn’t going away, but how they interact with live events is changing. Engaging fans is more than offering them a printed program with the players' numbers as they walk in the gate. Sports fans are passionate and inquisitive. They want to learn more about their favorite team and they want to do it in the time it takes to snap their fingers. Sports teams must engage fans using mechanisms and platforms they will use and understand. Fans engagement with sports is evolving, and because of this programs must evolve their platforms to meet those demands.
Learn more about how you can modernize your sports fan experience outside of the stadium: