From Fans to Superfans: 8 Fan–Centric Strategies in Sports OTT

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From Fans to Superfans: 8 Fan–Centric Strategies in Sports OTT

In sports media, the deployment of an OTT platform stands as a strategic imperative for sports, federations and clubs. A successful implementation of this platform goes beyond merely hosting videos on a club’s website, it involves monetization options, data friendliness and cross-platform compatibility to name a few. The best orchestrators of OTT always have an end-to-end strategy on how this will work, and we dive into just that.

Choosing the right way forward can be quite the challenge, depending on the available resources and industry the implementation may look different. Below, we will explore comprehensive strategies aimed at optimizing fan engagement and revenue:

1. Elevating B2C Engagement: Unlocking the Fan Potential

The most effective way to kick off your OTT journey is by leveraging your registered FA members as invaluable clients. These are pre-existing clients who are already aligned with your organization, so having tapped into the wealth of available data, we will have engaged directly with the fans, offering not just content but exclusive B2C products. A good example of this is the NBA League Pass, introduced to their already existing clients on NBA TV. This move allows us to tailor special conditions, such as free trials or priority access, to enhance the overall fan and viewership experience.

2. Strategic B2B Collaboration: Maximizing Telco Partnerships

Next we can look at extending the strategic approach to Business-to-Business (B2B) collaborations. A case study we can look at here is with BT Sports and the FA, where key objectives include grassroots support, fan benefits and technology integration. This step allows the FA to gain significant financial support, increased reach, and technological improvements for its facilities while BT Associates itself with the beloved England national teams and Wembley Stadium, raising brand profile and potentially attracting new customers. A key takeaway here is to develop products suitable for telco partners, aligning them with their OTT services. This can include crafting exclusive offerings for preferred partners and standardizing products for the broader OTT market, fostering collaborative growth.

3. FAST Channels: Modernizing Linear Broadcasts

Ads often get a bad rep due to their integration in today’s content, and rightly so as most are not implemented with the right end goal in mind thereby disrupting the viewership experience. Embracing the potential of Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television (FAST) channels for a wider reach is as close to a win-win situation as it can get., Take 1. FC Union Berlin, their innovative model combines leveraging fan potential by pushing traffic to their site and leverages that by running relevant ads. This aligns with contemporary preferences for linear broadcasts, especially targeting younger demographics by transitioning from classic to modern channels.

4. Synergistic Marketing Partnerships: Elevating Sponsorships

In 2015, the India Premier League (IPL) launched its own OTT platform, Disney+ Hotstar, which has since become the leading streaming service in India. One of the key factors at play here was the sponsorship deal with Vodafone Idea, one partnership that instantly provided viewership to millions of fans. This allows for deeper cross vertical integration across the board. So by exploring sponsorship opportunities for diverse content topics, not only do we instantly elevate our OTT penetration but also pave the way for future streams such as Augmented Reality (AR) sales through strategic collaborations that resonate with both sports enthusiasts and sponsors.

5. Live Content Promotion: Maximizing Visibility

Harness the power of live content for effective promotion on social media platforms. Nowhere is this more evident than the NFL Game Pass in collaboration with DAZN, where key off season events and worldwide coverage keep your activities visible and at the top of your customer. Live content promotion requires that you negotiate exclusive content deals with platforms if you are going to enhance visibility and capture the dynamic nature of live sports events.

6. Leveraging Existing Traffic: Strategically Directing the Flow

WWE launched its OTT service, WWE Network, in 2014. The Network offers live and on-demand access to all of WWE’s programming, as well as original content, such as documentaries and reality shows. The network has been a success for WWE, with over 2 million subscribers. The network then leveraged that traffic to strike a $5bn deal with Netflix to provide exclusive streaming rights. This capitalizes on the substantial internet traffic generated by sports federations and clubs that ensure the visibility of the OTT platform, strategically directing the existing flow of fans toward a centralized hub.

7. Learning from Bayern Munich: A Strategic Case Study

Perhaps a prime example of leveraging OTT to ensure growth and brand awareness is FC Bayern TV. They leveraged their existing worldwide fan base which serves as a strong foundation for their platform, they offer exclusive content and free and paid options to couple it up. Their content is predominantly in English, which sets them up for international success as well. This lighthouse platform is a good emulation of providing a diverse range of content, from match replays to behind-the-scenes features, creating a replicable model for other clubs.

8. Content Strategy for Success: A Holistic Approach

Understand viewer preferences by delving into what fans desire beyond mere match coverage. As is the case with UFC Fight Pass, live content isn’t the only carrot cake. They offer an extensive library of past fights, which include a vast archive of past fight nights and events, appealing to fans who want to revisit classic matches and fighters. They get up and personal with original content such as behind-the-scenes footage, and original shows focused on fighters’ lives and training, providing deeper insights and engagement. The right content for the right fan matters! Go beyond and create a diverse content portfolio, including interviews, travel reports, documentaries, and intimate glimpses into athletes’ daily lives.

9. Engaging the Youth: A Future-Oriented Approach

Connect with the younger audience through platforms and apps they frequent. Nowhere is this more prevalent than La Liga Pass (Spanish Football League). They employ engagement strategies such as integrating social media features within the platform, allowing fans to share their viewing experiences and engage with other viewers in real-time and are focused on a mobile first design. They focus young players in content creation, their personalities, and stories beyond the sport, aiming to connect with Gen Z’s interest in relatable figures and engaging narratives to enhance relatability and connect with the next generation of fans.

10. Fan-Centric Approach: Building Positive Relationships

Allowing your subscribed fans to earn perks and benefits from you is a sure way to retain them in the long run. Take Cricket Australia, for every subscriber they provide their “On-demand replays” feature and offer exclusive merchandise discounts, ticket pre-sale access, and other perks to subscribers, rewarding their loyalty and providing additional value. This shows appreciation for fan loyalty. However, it is important to note that you need to avoid adopting a transactional mentality; instead, build positive, lasting relationships with fans, transforming them from mere spectators to dedicated supporters.

Navigating the Sports Media Ecosystem in a rapidly evolving sports media landscape, a thoughtful and fan-centric approach to OTT implementation couldn’t be more important. Understanding the diverse needs of fans, creating engaging content, and strategically partnering with both fans and external entities will drive success in the competitive OTT space. It’s not just about broadcasting matches; it’s about building a dynamic sports media ecosystem that resonates with a global audience.

Co written by: Amir Raveh & Kirill Magaev

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