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Driving engagement: What sports fans want from your content

By: Spyros Poulis

The days of sports fans being passive spectators are very much in the rearview mirror. Where once the big match, or a key fixture, was the biggest and most important touchpoint for loyal fans, now a much more active model is visible in every developed sporting arena.

Fans want to be engaged at a much more granular level, with content that plays to their passions and team’s heritage, not just a couple of clips of the last live game.

The result is that content has never been more important for engaging and mobilising ever-greater fanbases, breaking down the barriers between a traditional, local and regional supporter network to reach national and international audiences seamlessly and directly.

This brave new world of content is not just dynamic thanks to the digital medium of delivery, and the multiple social channels available to a modern sporting brand – it is also sharply delineated by age group as a report into ‘superfans’ demonstrates.

Engagement: differing by age group

According to the report, Millennials are responding to sports content differently from Gen-Z fans, according to the new in-depth research. Millennials’ interactions are focused on commenting and sharing the videos they enjoy, whilst Gen Z indicate a stronger preference for self-curation, via playlists, favourites and home screen personalisation.

Combining the two audiences throws up some interesting  statistics, with both Gen Z and Millenials regarding searching for content as important (32%), reacting to content (23%) and reposting/sharing content (24%). Currently the majority of content is not directly built for interactivity, which could improve the ability of fans to act as brand ambassadors.

Influencers of considerable value

Unsurprisingly, the power of influencers is writ large, both for mainstream and niche sporting content. But an unexpected result is that, while Gen-Z are more likely to have watched influencer content on social media (24% vs 18%), Millennials are more likely to spend as a result of that content engagement. After watching an influencer, Millennials are more likely than Gen-Z to buy official team merchandise (65% to 50%) and more likely to pay for a subscription (43% vs 27%).

The value of influencers in driving commercial conversion puts them at the top of the tree in terms of valuable tactics to improve the reach, engagement and value of your content. Brands can use this information in a number of key ways to improve content performance and boost ROI. These include:

  • Building relationships with influencers, serving them like traditional media outlets by providing access to exclusive media and integrating their presence onto official channels
  • Driving value from content archives, creating compelling short-form content that draws on sports club heritage and repurposes clips for use on social media
  • Optimising video catalogues for efficient search, allowing fans to curate their experience via playlists, recommendations, and user groups
  • Adding watermarking and pre-rolls to video clips to ensure brand visibility is prominent, even where content is shared away from its original source.

What do sports fans really want from your content? Find out by downloading the free Switched on Superfans report now!

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