Sports media marketing, and advertising, has undergone major changes in the past decade. Through the growth of broadband, WiFi, and new digital and social networks, technology has created vast new opportunities for communication and has evolved touch points for fans of every sport, creating new levels of audience engagement.
New research from Ovum and Intel has predicted that within the next decade, media and entertainment companies will be competing for wireless revenue opportunities worth $1.3 trillion, thanks to the introduction of 5G networks.
With download speeds of up to 20GB (more than 1000 faster than a typical 4G connection today), the report predicts that by 2025, the majority of global mobile media revenues will be generated by the ultra-fast 5G network. So how will the realm of sports media marketing look in this landscape?
1. Mobile video content will evolve... and consumption will accelerate
Consumers regularly use mobile devices to browse video on the go across an array of social media platforms and mobile apps, on top of extensive use in the home on local WiFi networks. Federations, clubs, athletes and brands across sport are already capitalising on this behaviour by offering premium video content for free on social platforms, mobile apps and websites, such as real-time highlight clips, driving consumers to higher value over-the-top (OTT) and paid subscription services.
The sustained growth in short-form video viewing on social platforms creates new revenue opportunities too, such as in-stream and pre-roll video advertising now available on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Utilising 5G networks, latency and buffering will be vastly reduced and organisations will be able to deliver video in hi-res, VR, AR and 360, making these services more accessible to consumers across multiple devices and platforms. Publishers face stiff competition for online video views, across a number of genres, and those that develop the most engaging and innovative video experiences will capture the largest digital audience.
In 2025, organisations will need to offer a wide range of tailored video content across platforms to remain relevant and win new customers. We are already seeing growth in shoulder content such as behind-the-scenes or training ground content. Online video is already an important marketing tool, but as network speeds and download times become less of a concern for consumers, improving video production and distribution strategies will be critical to success.
Grabyo chief executive Gareth Capon believes that organisations will have to offer a wide range of content in order to remain relevant.
2. Social and streaming video will lead the way
Social media platforms are rapidly moving towards video-focused services, keeping users active for longer by expanding to become a destination for entertainment as well as networking and communications.
The viewing habits of younger generations, millennials and Gen Z, are driving this change. Many are watching match highlights on social media as they happen or very soon after, instead of waiting for highlights packages from traditional broadcasters. Video-based platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram are fast becoming the app of choice for these demographics, with Facebook and Twitter working to compete for users by developing advanced video offerings. However, all are still a long way off from competing with YouTube, as more than one billion hours of YouTube videos are watched daily in 2018.
As more consumers access 5G, real-time video content on social media apps will grow even faster. By 2025, consumers will expect a range of choice in how they access sports content and social video will lead the way in achieving high levels of reach. Live broadcasts of matches, press conferences and interviews will become popular, as communal online watching becomes the norm and buffering issues become a thing of the past.
Sports fans on social are already highly engaged in live video, watching for longer as they comment, discuss and participate with the content. Audiences for Facebook Live generate three times more comments that VOD videos with watch times more than ten times longer on average; live polls and audience interaction will be key in winning and retaining viewers. Sports media will need to encompass memorable live experiences across social media, as well as real-time clips and highlights, to keep consumers interested.
3. Social video will drive direct sales
The question of “where can I buy that?” will be a thing of the past in 2025. Currently, Instagram and Snapchat allow publishers to include links to ecommerce sites within images posted to the site, which helps to drive the sale of tickets and merchandise for clubs and athletes, but with 5G network adoption, marketers will be able to utilise social video to include links to products and services, including premium satellite and OTT subscriptions. This capability, along with interactive features such as voting and live data, will drive deeper engagement and longer watch periods.
Video content will soon be an essential feature for any online marketplace or service. Media and entertainment providers will be able to combine this with content and network propositions, offering premium content in the form of interactive live streams or short clips, with marketing options to drive consumers to premium OTT subscriptions and other commerce channels. This will also open up opportunities for brand partnerships, offering more value for sponsors and drive ROI with measurable metrics on brand impact and conversion.
According to eMarketer, digital ad spend will topple 50 per cent by 2020.
4. AI will help curate the customer journey from the beginning
As the quality of video and networks increase so will the development of AI-assisted video production. By 2025, we expect automation to be a key part of video production workflows. Editors will be able to define triggers and context-variables that will allow the automatic creation of clips and highlights from live match feeds, reducing the time it takes to create real-time updates for live events, such as sports, music festivals or entertainment award shows.
AI will also help consumers to find more relevant content. As algorithms improve across social media, discoverability will improve for organisations producing the right content. As 5G drives digital video consumption growth, AI will enable digital teams to keep up with demand.
5. Mobile ad spend will continue to grow
According to eMarketer, digital ad spend will topple 50 per cent by 2020. If you break down today’s digital ad spend, mobile ads already account for nearly 70 per cent of total spend with more than 50 per cent of digital budgets allocated to video. By 2025, mobile video will be a highly rich source of opportunity for media rights holders to monetise digital video content.
Sponsors, especially in the business of sport, are proactively looking for media partnerships in digital and social video, as they are acutely aware of the reach and engagement it achieves. As audiences grow, ad spend is following. The introduction of 5G will accelerate this trend. Activating sponsors and taking advantage of native social media advertising will allow all content holders involved in sport to be able to increase returns on content, whilst generating new revenue streams.