From the Colosseum in Rome to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and every stadium, field, arena, track and general venue in between, fans enjoy experiencing sports. Our early fan ancestors had limited spectating options – watch it live in the stadium or not at all. As technology evolved, so did (and does) the fan experience. Our great grandparents attended events in person, or they read the results in the evening paper. Our grandparents listened to them on radio and eventually could watch them live on TV. Enter the broadcast blackout, which continued very aggressively – even when the venue was sold out – until 1973 when Congress stepped in to govern when and how blackouts could be applied.
Technological advancements hardly stopped with TV. Fans in our generation now have access to satellite, cable, pay-per-view packages, Internet streaming, as well as real-time updates on social channels.
Each fan can become a reporter, producer and broadcaster – all from their seat in the stadium.
The new media environment creates new opportunities and challenges for brands, teams and leagues. With mobile devices equipped with hi-res cameras and WiFi access or LTE connectivity, each fan can become a reporter, producer and broadcaster – all from their seat in the stadium. This can be a huge liability putting rebroadcast and licensing rights at risk. But it can also be a great opportunity. Venues and brands doing it right harness those interests and direct fans into supporting the home team by participating in quizzes, fun surveys, fan picture posting and other user-generated content.
Teams, leagues and even broadcasters now have new revenue streams. Brands have new sponsorship options. Leagues that may have previously scoffed at the marketing done by NASCAR now see the value of that corporate support. From an experiential perspective, Fan Fests are now common place at big events as well as the weekly college football games. Fans come to venues with a bag to bring home all their free branded bobble heads, towels and koozies. Technology innovations provide new ways for brands to connect and engage with fans. Fans check in, post and share where they are and what event they’ll see. TV broadcasts identify the official hashtag of the game in their promos and during the event. Consumer promotions and sweepstakes have accompanying mobile apps.
Advances in technology have provided channels to stream whole events or highlights.
The introduction of social and evolution of fan engagement has even led to a change in ratings measurement. Whereas Nielsen previously worked to track viewership, the research organization now also tracks Twitter posts surrounding sports in the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings.
This extends to fans not at the venue. Advances in technology have provided channels to stream whole events or highlights. Yoni Hessler of BGR reported on the growth of YouTube and last year’s earnings reports by chief business officer Omid Kordestani who said, “The number of users coming to YouTube, who start at the YouTube homepage similar to the way they might turn on their TV, is up over three times year-on-year.” YouTube has reached a status where it is compared to broadcast TV.
YouTube has 328 channels dedicated to sports. These include WWE, NFL, UFC, USA Gymnastics, MLB, PGA TOUR, NHL and many more official league channels.