In a recent article in the London Telegraph, Sam Dean wrote a prescient article about the impact on sports sponsorships of the recent declines in viewership in both the NFL and the UK’s Premier League. Whether you are in the States or in Europe, if you’re involved in sports marketing you need to read this article.
Dean notes that changes in viewing habits are having a major effect. As he says, “Clips from games are now available immediately online (legally or not), and younger generations in particular are consuming sport in a range of different ways, whether that is via streaming, social media, desktop or live apps.”
The question is not whether these viewing habits are changing, but why. Although millennials may be leading the way, they are simply the canary in the coal mine. What we are seeing is the cumulative impact of powerful social, economic and technology factors that are sweeping across the globe but only beginning to disrupt the established value structure in sports sponsorship marketing. Among the factors:
1. One of the great value creators in sports marketing is the power of now, not just to see who wins but to see the big plays that make it happen. Immediacy has always had value in our consumption of sports, but the impact of this reality is rapidly becoming more interesting as technology allows us to see the highlights of not just one game or sport but many.
2. The exponential growth and immediacy of over-the-top video and multi-screen viewing habits are having a dramatic impact not only on where we get our sports content but also on the diversity of what we watch and when we watch it. Simply put, we have more options and we are interested in more of them than ever before.
3. The Internet in general and social media in particular are shortening our attention spans. Whether we are millennials or baby boomers, we are accelerating into a world where short-term activities are replacing longer-term activities. (If you have doubts, read Cal Newport’s Deep Work or Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, or just check your Twitter or Snapchat.) This trend actually melds well with our increasing options. To see more or do more, we spend less time on each activity.
4. Despite these trends (or perhaps because of them), we still relish richness in the actual experiences that cannot be captured in a highlights feed. But to give up our highlights, we expect actual events to deliver exceptional experiences. As lagging attendance would suggest, many events no longer meet this bar—and will not without doing more.
What does all this mean to sponsors and properties?
1. Traditional portfolio mixes and asset values are changing and are likely to change dramatically over the next few years.
2. Understanding which assets and asset activations work best for a given demographic will become even more important. But demographics may not be as important as the divide between digital highlights and actual experiences. And the real challenge will be to blend the two more effectively.
3. Digital asset trends will be driven even more by immediacy.
4. On-site events will be fueled by experiential opportunities and relationship-focused guest experiences—the rich real world alternatives to short term highlights on the Internet.
5. Sponsors that understand the difference will be best able to leverage their sports marketing investments, ROI and ROO.
6. All of this will increase the emphasis on asset and event management, multifactor analytics that can value and compare events, platforms and properties, and attendee personalization tools that can help every guest have a special day that will ultimately be reflected in increased sponsor sales and social media exposure.
At Playoff Technologies, we built Sponsor Locker to help sponsors and their agencies manage and enhance their sports sponsorship assets, contracts and events in this changing and increasingly challenging environment. Click here to learn more.
CEO Playoff Technologies LLC