There continues to be such hype and talk in sports, team sports in the US, about second screen usage, OTT, added content, driving engaged viewers to engage in conversations around the live event. However at the same time brands and networks are still tied to the ever shrinking and elusive rating as the benchmark for success. Even with Nielsen changing their ratings to be more inclusive of all forms of engagement (NBC has been using TAMI; a tool for Total Audience Measurement for some time), the risk averse, and still much older, advertising decision makers are still wringing hands about broadcast numbers as the measuring stick. It may be old, but don’t drive people to other places when their eyeballs should be glued for however long at the traditional screen. That screen is still, and will be for some time, the primary way to engage.
Well what about the storytelling around the live event? Who owns the pregame warmups, batting practice, early skating sessions, taping sessions, all that extra content which fans do not see. Then we have athletes and some coaches, who are taking great pains to create their own voice and their own personal brand, yet that equity and content gets lost in the wave of the live team event for the most part. With a few exceptions, “a social media day” where a soccer team or a college lets players use their own twitter handles on jerseys, or “My Cause My Cleats” that the NFL did or MLB’s great one weekend social expression weekend this summer, uniformity dominates.
It seems like some of that is starting to change. We noticed in some NFL games, those carried on NBC for example, that player personal twitter handles are being worked into on screen graphics. Many NFL teams, the Jets being one, are using all players social footprint tags in their in stadium graphics, and some colleges are letting players hashtags be listed in media reports. Now some broadcasts, college sports on ESPN, have developed their own hashtags for games to at least try and measure engagement, but for the most part team sports in the US are still lacking in driving a uniform engagement in social. Drive info to a team tag? Yes that’s happening more and more and some teams like the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the LA Kings do a great job of supplementing the action going on with added value and tidbits across all their social channels in real time. Still all that is driven to the teams, not to those actually doing the work on the field.
Now of course players aren’t posting, well for the most part, during games, but giving out the player info when fans are engaged during a broadcast should be more of a rule, not an exception. Its personalities fans want and content they desire, so why not make it easy.
Hometown, high school, social handle, right there in the bio for those who engage. It won’t cost your eyeballs, it may make you more inclusive and may actually be something that can be sold as new revenue. Certainly worth a better try.