Lessons in entertainment: five things sports organizations can learn from film and TV


by Editorial Staff

How can sports organizations keep fans hooked when there’s no live content? Does the secret to filling the white space lie in the entertainment industry? Read on for five lessons sports organizations can learn from the film and TV OTT space over the coming months


by Editorial Staff

How can sports organizations keep fans hooked when there’s no live content? Does the secret to filling the white space lie in the entertainment industry? Read on for five lessons sports organizations can learn from the film and TV OTT space over the coming months

This time last year, a summer without live sport would have been unfathomable. But, the world has changed in a couple of weeks and now the most adept industries must – and will – adapt.

When it comes to sports operators, one source of inspiration for the months ahead is to look to the OTT entertainment industry. Film and TV providers are well-versed in using varying tactics to keep their fans hooked between periods of ‘white space’. After all, they need to find ways to keep hardcore The Walking Dead or Stranger Things fans, for example, occupied while they’re patiently waiting for the next season of their favorite show to be released.

Read on for five lessons the sporting world can borrow from the entertainment industry.

1. Get creative with your archive

Our recent white paper, which looked at the changing US sports fan, uncovered that during business as usual, almost 70% of US fans tune in to watch more than three hours of live sports content per week. Over half (53%) of surveyed participants also said they’re more interested in watching sports than they were prior to 2016. This important group has not disappeared into the ether now live content is not an option – they’re waiting.

One way to feed their appetites is to provide them with targeted archive content tailored to their interests – a tactic that OTT providers often use to keep people interested. Of course, there are some limitations to this within the sporting world and rights for archive content can be expensive. However, where possible, now’s the time for sports providers to make sure relevant content on their platforms can be resurfaced and served to the right people.

Designed to help you get the right content in front of the right user as well as personalize the entire UX and measure engagement, our latest product, mtribes, can help you achieve this. Plus, it can be installed in minutes, which couldn’t be more important considering how quickly everyone is looking for an answer.

And finally, to get the most out of your archive, you can look to social media platforms including Facebook where tactics like ‘a year on this day’ are used to boost engagement. The secret to capturing today’s attention can lie in the past. Can older content be reimagined to meet today’s needs? What happened a year ago today? 10 years ago? Can highlights or best bits be circulated? ITV, for example, has announced it will be airing Euro 96 this summer in a ‘live’ capacity. It’s time to get creative!

2. Build a multi-channel focus

When fans are hungry for content, there are so many examples within the entertainment world where secondary stories are told and additional content is shared with avid fans. Just look at Big Brother, Love Island, the Xtra Factor, the Bachelor, etc. Each show uses social, secondary programming and incorporates other media like radio and magazines, to better engage viewers and highlight personalities over the course of a given week alongside their primary shows.

Of course, there are some examples of this in the sporting world, but now’s the time to consider new programming routes potentially covering themes, or past or future events, to fill any periods of white space.

3. Tell your athletes’ stories

Just because there’s no live content doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of stories. Just look at the new UK streaming site, BritBox, for great examples of this. The OTT platform features hand-picked collections and recommendations from an in-house editorial team as well as from celebrities that appear within its content on the service.

It’s time for your editorial team to spring into action, interviewing athletes and/or uncovering new stories about past or future games. Our industry-leading product, FORGE, is the world’s first sport-focused publishing platform and can help non-technical members of the team tell these stories as they evolve.

This is also where VISUAL STORIES, a flexible module within FORGE, will come into its own by enabling operators to craft bite-sized messages pre, during, and post-game to make digital experiences even more compelling.

4. Give your fans a unique experience

With 72% of sports fans viewing personalization as important to their overall sports consumption experience, there’s no denying it’s essential to get it right. You may have an in-depth personalization strategy in place, but if not, now’s the time.

OTT providers have been finding unique ways to deliver personal experiences for years. Content recommendations, for example, drive as much as 80% of shows watched on Netflix. The streaming giant has also invested heavily in audience analytics and insights coupled with the production of original IP to drive engagement and retention.

But one size certainly doesn’t fit all, even within this current climate. ESPN, for example, offered three different live viewing modes to fans during a Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers game. The first delivered an analytical view of the game, the second featured above-the-rim cameras and graphics, and the third opted for a fun, entertaining version including fire graphics.

Again, mtribes, will come in useful here – you can group users with common attributes, behaviors, or traits into Tribes to give them a more personalized experience.

5. Ask the audience!

It’s become a popular trope in entertainment shows over the years, but now’s the time to get your sports fans involved too! Why not ask your fans what they want to watch? 19% of US sports fans use social media as their first point of access for news, info, and highlights, and 28% use federations, leagues, or competitions’ platforms. With numbers like that, and now within an era where more people are at home, why not turn to your social channels and put some of the voting power into the hands of the consumers via polls and other online questions?

We’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions, get in touch on Twitter or LinkedIn.