A story is not a story if you have not a conflict in it. So, let’s jump immediately to that point.
We have two emerging trends, in-house content creation and OTT, that are driving sport organisations to go directly to their fans with finely produced content spread across multiple digital platforms. The missing figure in this beautiful portrait, needless to say, is the broadcaster – the one that, until recent times, was the privileged party who would spread the word of federations, leagues and clubs. Is this long and wealthy relationship going to end any time soon?
I discussed this with speakers, coming from different perspectives, at SportsPro Live and the answer seems to be “no”.
NBA Senior Director of Media Distribution, Amy Lee, couldn’t be clearer when she said: “we have broadcasters in 215 countries and 49 different languages and we can’t do that on our own”. Broadcasters still play a crucial role in localising content, the only way to engage specific markets. What will be pivotal then, to avoid an undesired clash, is a very accurate rights segmentation.
It is now possible to create new value out of existing rights packages, but there is still a lot of sports content that sits outside the rights window, as Grabyo CEO Gareth Capon pointed out. And, for that, in-house production has no limits in terms of reach. In the case of NBA, one example speaks for all: the Half Court Challenge campaign that starred high profile athletes from different disciplines, like Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale. In all, this series of 10 videos totaled 16 million views across around 15 platforms.
The problem is that this kind of content requires sizeable investments into platform- driven production. Repurposing seems not to be an option anymore – you need a specific format to reach a specific audience. But there are ways to reduce costs, like the one mentioned by Raptor Group’s Sean Foley while speaking on AS Roma’s crowdsourced website. They were able to turn an audience into content producers, creating a multichannel network of writers and artists who are happy to boost the club’s digital presence, while enjoying the opportunity to see their idols from a privileged standpoint. Typical win-win situation.
OTT is a viable and profitable solution for sport clubs and leagues, but there is no way of globalising the media in the way Netflix is able to do in entertainment. We need our local story and broadcasters will continue to be a key reference for sports narrative.
What really counts in the end though is the human aspect of a story. The current scenario suggests that content producers in the industry could see their wage doubled in the immediate future. No-one can confirm that for the moment, however what is for sure is that we need content creators that understand distribution and user experience. On top of that though, if they don’t have the human quality of being great storytellers, the magic doesn’t happen.