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What can enterprise learn from sport?

By: Dominik Elmiger

Sport commands vast audiences across the globe and delivers comparably astonishing revenue streams, all through the power of content. What can we learn from their success?

Sport is big business. For example, Formula One’s top 10 teams spend a total of $2.6 billion annually, while the UK’s Premier League clubs spent £261m on agent fees for this season alone (this figure topped by Liverpool FC, which paid agents nearly £44 million).

Speaking of Liverpool FC, the club revealed a record pre-tax profit of £125 million for the 2017-18 financial year, with turnover rising by £90 million to £455 million. Crucially, this financial performance isn’t just due to success on the pitch – media revenue climbed to £220 million (up £66 million), while commercial revenue increased by £17 million to £154 million.

There are lessons here for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Success is digital

If all sports deliver one thing in common, it is a perfect audience experience. That experience is the touchstone which drives loyalty, ticket sales, spend on affiliated memorabilia and branded items, and attracts huge sponsorships from mega-advertisers. Indeed, US ad spend – boosted by the Winter Olympics and the World Cup – rocketed 9.6% in 2018, to a $212.4 billion total, according to a new report from Magna.

Much of this audience experience is now digital, and the nurturing and provision of this experience is an aspect of sport that wider enterprise can stand to learn much from. Understanding the value of content is essential. Just consider that Sky Sports and BT have recently inked a deal worth £4.464 billion to show 160 Premier League games a season from 2019/20 until 2021/22.

When tech made champions: five digital innovations in sport

Attributes such as speed to market, choice, performance analysis and ease of access are critical to maximising the value of content and its impact on the target audience. By knowing what content people want, you can make more of it. By knowing how they like to watch your content, you can optimise it for the right channels. And, by making content easy to access and share, you reduce friction and augment the user experience.

It’s here that a centralised media management platform can be of considerable value. Imagen, for example, was recently selected by Major League Baseball (MLB) to manage and distribute its library of game highlights to broadcast partners around the world. This enables partners to immediately broadcast quality files to a range of devices and users with just one click by utilising Imagen’s Accelerated File Download.

The value of going direct

Many sport rights owners are now taking advantage of direct to consumer services, which allow them to retain full rights control while creating a new revenue stream. The granularity of the best packages in this area enable rights owners to package up entirely new audience experiences, such as selecting camera angles, viewing highlights or going behind the scenes, something that Liverpool FC’s ‘Inside Anfield’ video series does to great effect.

The value of this direct to consumer technique is considerable, cutting out traditional broadcast models as well as enabling consumers to control their own experience. It’s a powerful combination worth bearing in mind for the future.

Getting a social boost

Sporting events have always relied on social uplift, long before social media existed in its current form. However, by using the power of social, modern digital enterprise can tap into some of that sport-style tribal energy.

Making your company’s content as shareable as possible opens the doors to millions of new consumers. But this requires a media management platform that includes the ability to easily embed content anywhere (including third party websites, emails, blogs and presentations) and share it natively across the major social platforms, such as YouTube and Twitter.

Imagen does all that and more, with a web interface that enables users to comment directly on videos, increasing their shareability, as well as giving content owners the ability to appoint moderators to manage interaction. Finally, email and RSS notifications are baked in, so that automated emails highlighting new content and RSS notifications are all ready to help spread the word.

Keeping it simple

This is not to say that the business of content should be over complicated. Indeed, the opposite is almost always the case. Making it easier for your target market to gain access to content, experience, enjoy and share it is the central aim, but this ethos can be applied throughout the process.

By ensuring that content creators have access to the best tools for the job, and that internal workflows are as smooth as possible, your chances of success are much higher. Using single sign-on, for example, makes access to these tools seamless, whether users are working behind a corporate firewall or out on the road. Ultimately, keeping it simple is a key tactic for enabling teams to deliver the very best in class content, whether that’s a World Cup final or live streaming the CEO’s quarterly briefing.

Sport is leading the way in content production, using a range of tactics that include branded channels, high-quality video content, self-service access, availability across multiple channels, social media promotion and ongoing data analysis. By applying the principles of compelling sporting content to business marketing and content creation, enterprises can follow the example of clubs like Liverpool FC to improve every aspect of their value chain.

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