Sports Fans and the Second Screen

Greg Miles | 9 September 2017

A large flat screen TV in shelving unit in lounge

In today’s on-demand economy, sport has quickly become one of the only types of content that people will watch live. With catch up TV and streaming services such as Netflix, there has been a drastic shift in the way we watch most program genres. But sport remains a clear exception, and with social media becoming ever more ingrained into modern culture, watching live sport from the sofa has evolved into an active experience.

Three-quarters of the British population now use a connected device while watching TV, a trend that rises to 93% for the under-25 demographic. Evidently, people are reaching for their smartphones in order to be part of the big conversation. Whether it’s to connect with other fans, find out friends’ reactions to big moments, research statistics and trivia, or to feed off the excitement of the globally connected crowd, second-screening is now the norm.

Where did this shift come from?

Second-screen behavior barely existed as recently as 2013, but in 2017 it is integral to our consumption of sport. Live-tweeting, for instance, became a way for people to communicate with other fans on a large-scale whilst experiencing the same event. To tap into this developing space, brands, publishers, and media companies began producing content that catered to the interests of these fans.

As a result, the collective attention of sports fans was split between two screens: the primary broadcast (TV) and the global hub for commentary and reaction (Twitter).

Sports-Fans-Second-Screening

How can marketers make the most of the second screen?

It’s not about pushing ads and promotional content – that would just serve as a nuisance that gets in the way of what users are trying to reach. It’s suggested that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages each day, and as a consequence, our brains are becoming more adept at blocking them out.  So in order to be successful, brands must seamlessly blend into the conversation.

It’s about building awareness and positioning your brand at the forefront of consumers minds. Only a sociopath would butt into a conversation for pure self-promotion, with a blatant disregard for the context. In order to be memorable, brands must give people what they want. By publishing timely, relevant and engaging content, brands can earn a share of their audience’s attention in these moments.

What do fans expect from brands?

The type of content your brand should post will depend on many contextual factors. But here are a few suggestions for how the expectations of fans can be met in these moments:

  • Ignite debate with questions and fan interaction.
  • Bring fans at home closer to the action by capturing the energy and rituals of the event.
  • Make visual, credible content that is easy to share.
  • Plan ahead and identify possible triggers for conversation. Create content that anticipates these triggers and that can be tweaked on the fly in order to be delivered quickly when needed. There’s a chance some of this preparation will go to waste, but it will make you agile in the moment.
  • Create snackable facts, stats and trivia.
  • Partner with content creators and influencers to deliver engaging and timely information/opinion.
  • Identify ways in which your brand can relate to the unfolding events in authentic ways.

Creativity and speed of delivery is key.