29 October 2019
Read time: 10 minutes
Almost two-fifths of digital consumers say they use social media to follow sports events.
In today’s market – if there are TV rights left on the table – online streaming is the most efficient and effective way to ensure these events are made accessible.
Longevity in sport demands accessibility. Getting attention online now plays an important role in generating participation offline, especially for second-tier sports.
There are 2 major online streaming options:
For the majority of sports rights holders, Option 1 is resource-intensive and requires a deep level of strategic insight and risk assessment. It also requires its own dedicated blog post (coming soon…).
My focus is on Option 2, the more straightforward solution for sports on a smaller budget. For the next 3–5 years at least, if rights holders are to reach global markets with acceptable production quality, the streaming choice is Facebook or YouTube (due to the sheer scale of these top-performing platforms).
However, when we consider the 3 core requirements of modern-day sports rights holders – live-streaming functionality, monetisation, and community-building – the choice becomes harder.
To help, I’ve analysed how well Facebook and YouTube answer these important questions.
What functionality do you need?
You can ‘go live’ on either Facebook or YouTube, but their functionality differs in some important areas.
There appears to be a clear winner here as 3 crucial points of difference give YouTube the nod over Facebook.
If making money from your live streams is a serious ambition, both platforms allow for this.
A case in point: Facebook’s recent partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB) meant the platform produced and distributed games. Four MLB clubs then retargeted fans on Facebook and generated nearly $500,000 in incremental ticket sales. Peter Hutton, Facebook’s Director of Global Live Sports Partnerships and Programming, stated that all teams saw a positive return on their ad spend, some even achieving a tenfold return on investment.
Building communities should be a central goal of all sports, regardless of size and status.
It’s hard to resist the temptation to broadcast an event only where most of your current fan base is. Facebook provides most sports with a large community, but if we’re to take an effective multi-channel approach, smaller sports can simultaneously manage their communities on Facebook and take advantage of YouTube’s top-class streaming functionality.
The move to online sports has enabled second-tier sports to reach a far wider audience.
Rights holders need to anticipate what will inevitably become the norm for sports consumption. Data confirms that younger demographics are devoting significantly longer periods of their day to watching online forms of TV. This behaviour is likely to be maintained with age.
The winning solution for sports is a combination of platforms.
While YouTube offers a closer match to the still dominant linear TV experience and is therefore a more suitable host for live streams, Facebook can help win the battle for the second screen, something that 90% of sports fans say they use when watching an event (and over half of whom list social media as their top activity).
For most sports, it shouldn’t be a question of investing in only one of the platforms and neglecting the other. Facebook and YouTube can both form part of a coherent communications strategy. If done correctly, they should complement each other to build and maintain a loyal fan base.
But ultimately, the functionality, reach and clear-cut purpose of YouTube as a top-class video platform offers smaller sports the opportunity to market their core product most efficiently and most effectively.
Remember: The quality of the sport itself is paramount. Let your streaming strategy sit at the heart of your communications strategy and work outwards from there.