What we learned from the webinar “Embracing game-changing technology to supercharge the MLS fan experience”

09.08.21

by Editorial Staff

Uncover how a bold digital strategy can win fans‘ hearts, grant brand consistency, and reduce operational costs – all at the same time.

09.08.21

by Editorial Staff

Uncover how a bold digital strategy can win fans‘ hearts, grant brand consistency, and reduce operational costs – all at the same time.

We recently hosted a webinar featuring Deltatre’s very own Jeff Volk (Senior Vice President, Americas) along with Chris Schlosser (Senior Vice President, Media) and Susannah Collins (On-Camera Host & Reporter) from Major League Soccer (MLS).

Below you can find some of the key learnings from the session.

How does MLS approach fan engagement? What are the defining traits of the MLS fan base when compared to other sports and leagues?

Chris began by taking a step back and outlining the core characteristics of the MLS audience:

“We have the youngest fans in American pro sports […] Most of our fans are actually part of Gen Z – many weren’t even born when the league started. That’s a really important component as we think about engaging and attracting fans.”

“Our fans are also super-users of digital technology – they over-index in streaming, in NFT use, in mobile use. They’re at the cutting edge of technology adoption.”

“Our fans have grown up in a digital age, and our sport has grown up in a digital age. […] When we think about engaging these digital fans, we need to have excellent experiences. Excellent websites, and excellent mobile apps.”

When engaging with a fan base that is intrinsically linked to tech adoption, it’s crucial to create experiences that constantly push the boundaries of new technology.

What role does technology play in the future of MLS, and how can it allow the league to differentiate itself from the competition?

Chris spoke about the fundamental role that technology plays in MLS: “We want to position ourselves as the global leader in football innovation. We have an affordance with our young fans to try new things, and do new things. […] We truly believe that our fans expect a different kind of experience, and through technology, we can make their game-day experiences better.”

Jeff then spoke about the contribution of technology from a Deltatre perspective and the exciting opportunities it presents for partners like MLS: “We’re always trying to push the envelope in terms of what’s new and what’s next for bringing sports to fans. […] Things like allowing individual teams to have their own brand, to have their own prominence, to grow individually as a club – that was a critical element.”

Although it can sound simple, launching these ambitious projects (such as the MLS digital ecosystem overhaul) involves a huge amount of work from all parties. Creating smooth and innovative streaming experiences for fans requires complex planning, technology expertise, and a solid infrastructure.

From a Deltatre perspective, what was different about the MLS project when compared with previous partnerships? What are some of the key features of this project?

Jeff started by explaining the rigor that goes into starting a new partnership – particularly with a league as prominent as MLS: “Each initial project starts with a whole concepting and discovery phase. Our build phase was quite significant – it’s been fun to migrate from this build phase to that run phase, where you can become much more agile.”

“There are things coming soon that we’re all excited about. Things like live blogging and visual stories – things that quickly bring fans to MLS properties, where otherwise they might have turned to social media. […] Those solutions are things that allow MLS to tell these stories, and tell them in a way that’s crafted around what the league wants to present.”

Every project presents a unique set of challenges, and creating bespoke tech solutions is a fundamental part of a successful partnership.

One of the defining features of the MLS & Deltatre partnership was creating a uniform experience between the MLS.com site and the individual club sites – while still allowing the clubs to define their own unique brands.

Jeff spoke about the importance of a great partnership when aiming to achieve this kind of ambition. He went on to describe why Deltatre is perfectly suited to these tasks: “We specialize in live sport – that’s what our tools are built to do. […] The macro idea of what we wanted to achieve was instant. You don’t always have the ability to have such aligned visions, and so when it happens, it’s something special.”

Chris then built on this: “From our perspective, it’s critical that each club has its own brand and experience. […] All of our clubs are slightly different, and most importantly, they have their own fans. Fans are fans of the club, and not the league, so you need that connection in the local market. […] From a pure business standpoint, it makes sense to invest collectively in our digital technology – we can drive economies of scale, as opposed to individual teams having to build their own systems. It’s a balance of driving that business perspective while also enabling each club to have its own brand.”

It’s vitally important to recognize the unique challenges of each league. Delivering exceptional fan experiences means balancing scale and efficiency while also managing the individual nuances of each club.

For more insight on how MLS is supercharging its fan experiences, check out the full webinar here.