In North America, the Chicago Blackhawks were named a dynasty hockey franchise
after winning their third Stanley Cup trophy in six seasons. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays ended a 22 year playoff drought in Major League Baseball and third baseman Josh Donaldson was named MVP in the American League
.In the NBA, LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in his first season back with his home team. However, the Cavs came up short in the championship series as the Golden State Warriors became NBA champions
for the fourth time in team history. The Deflategate scandal revolving around the New England Patriots overshadowed Superbowl XLIX as the Patriots went head to head with the Seattle Seahawks in the championship game. With less than a minute left in the game, New England made an interception on their own one yard line to retake possession of the ball, allowing veteran quarterback Tom Brady to win his fourth professional football championship.
Similar Headlines In 2016?
The 2015-16 season rounded the halfway point on New Year’s Day. Athletes, coaches, team owners, and millions of sports fans are now re-engaging with their sport of choice following a short holiday hiatus as the second half of the season gets underway. Looking down the road over the next several months, can we expect as many notable, exciting, or memorable headlines as in 2015?
The answer to that question will depend on the quality of the games and the narrative around playoff-bound clubs. Entertaining teams led by gifted players will entice fans to purchase tickets and attend more games. Additionally, competitive teams will encourage other fans to watch the games on network TV or by subscribing to sports content packages via online and mobile streaming.
However, marketers must effectively promote the games to reach target audiences and make 2016 as powerful of a year for sport as 2015. Marketers can start by revisiting headlines from the past year and include them in promotional content. You can also immortalize moments and popular players with screen captures, or upload videos of game-winning goals to remind sports fans of the thrilling moments from the season’s biggest games. This content is perfect to share on social media and boost fan engagement
The Passionate Sports Fan
The passionate sports fan loves to review game highlights, discuss favourite players, and keep up-to-date with divisional, conference, or playoff standings.
Many of us can relate to the sports engagement experience. As children we learn about sports from our friends and often become passionate about the same teams as our family members. By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve learned to analyze the statistics of sports and how to judge skills demonstrated by individual players.
Personally, my own passion lies with the Toronto Maple Leafs. I first learned about Canada’s largest hockey club when I was a little boy and joined my family in cheering on the team’s most successful season of my lifetime in 1993. Toronto made it all the way to the Conference Finals in a showdown with the Los Angeles Kings. Unfortunately, the Leafs were defeated in Game 7 as a result of Wayne Gretzky’s hat trick.
Even though the game ended in disappointment, it was that thrilling season of hockey that taught me to love the game. Video highlights from the playoff series are a constant reminder of what Toronto hockey can be and what I hope to (one day) see again.
Be Socially Engaging
In today’s digital environment, many sport discussions occur on social media between friends or on official team digital channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Many teams have caught onto this trend and are increasing their use of social media to boost fan engagement ahead of a big game.For example, the NHL held its eighth annual Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, pitting two pre-selected teams against each other in an outdoor game of hockey. This year’s matchup was notable as Original Six archrivals, the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins, competed inside Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts where the Canadiens skated to a 5-1 victory over the Bruins.
To boost anticipation leading up to the outdoor game, both teams updated their social media accounts with promotional messages teasing the Winter Classic throughout the first half of the season. According to data pulled from MVP Index, the Bruins posted 184 messages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
between June 1 and December 30, which were liked and retweeted more than 507k times.
The Canadiens were less socially active but the Habs did get a boost from their star defenceman P.K. Subban. The 26 year old co-designed special skates made specifically for the outdoor game and posted images of the new designs on social media. According to Subban, these skates will be placed into production and the money raised from sales will be used to support P.K.’s Helping Hand, a charity that helps families who have been financially overwhelmed by caring for a sick child. Subban generated an average of 13k likes per update.
It’s All About The Fan Experience
Ideally, a sports marketing campaign will boost fan engagement and generate increased interest in a respective player, team, or competition. Let your creatives tap into the passion for sport and build a fan experience that revels in that intensity.Use your marketing channels to promote a culture and a lifestyle that inspires devotion to respective players or teams. You may even benefit from incorporating visual highlights in your content, which fans can like or comment on and build a community.
Technology provides the opportunity to develop fan communities but it’s up to you as a marketer to facilitate awareness and interest in these spaces. Welcome to 2016 sports fans!