Saturday morning as the news came about that Giancarlo Stanton was being traded to the New York Yankees, Art Stapleton, the longtime Giants beat writer for The Record, tweeted this:
Yankees are going to sell tickets to the HR Derby in batting practice between Sanchez, Judge and Stanton
While it seems to be a bit tongue in cheek…the Yankees couldn’t really sell areas for pregame, could they? He touched on a very valuable piece of content fans crave yet no one has really been able to aggregate; the goings on, unadulterated, before, and sometime after, professional sports (and some select colleges) around the country. We see endless hours of talking heads with fields in the backgrounds, and will occasionally capture the odd 65 yard field goal, the player handing a puck to a kid, or Steph Curry swishing a half-court shot, yet all the conversation, and video goes back to analysis; lots of features yes, but also a lot of white noise. It is sold for sure, and that makes it valuable, but there is a huge amount of things going on before a game gets going that fans would love to see unencumbered, and the streaming world and OTT devices now give media companies, teams, even athletes, the ability to open that world up to probably thousands who would tune in.
What kind of content? Stapleton touched on live batting practice, easily done with remote cameras; NBA pre game warmup cam, done with microcams; how about a camera in the net as NHL players go through their pregame warmups? Want to see what goes on on NFL sidelines as the games get ready, why not have that available for your fans as well? Go one step further and show fans how footballs are weighed, how baseballs are rubbed up, and if allowed, what routines players are going through in controlled spaces like a weight room, and you have a bit of The Truman Show, but it is very interesting (sometimes) content that can even be delayed a few seconds to make sure that all is not divulging some secrets. Even picture in picture for traditional pregame shows would work, with someone behind the scenes monitoring all that’s going on and cutting to some compelling content as well. Packaging that content into a some sharp highlights for a mobile device just before the games get started could round out a nice offering that fans would eat up, brands could engage with, and any number of content providers could do well with.
By the way, selling that type of package may also not have to go to a current rights holder, although it could be an add on as well. While most of the major sports continue to carve out and roll up who can show what, the live game rights are still the golden calf. So grabbing all that content before the games or the races or the matches start might also be a new way in for disruptive platforms, or a new way for rightsholders and properties to carve out some new space.
If you go to most major sporting events, from golf and tennis to the NFL and NASCAR, the fan on site is huddled up watching the warmups, the practice shots the pit tunings. Yes no one is capturing it all for a larger audience.
Yankees selling Batting Practice? Our buddy Art may laugh, but its valuable content, and someone in the front office should be looking to carve a niche and cash some added chips as the hot stove heats up.