In the current era, Digital media is one of the fastest-growing and evolving mediums that has made an impact across various industries. With the evolution of smartphones and technology in the past decade, technology-based companies are moving towards a more user-centric world.
Many industries have started to move forward with these changes and adapt themselves accordingly to be on par with the people. The sports industry is also adapting to the growing rise of digital media. The digital media has managed to bridge the gap between fans and athletes. The former are the biggest stakeholders in any sport, so bringing them closer to athletes, brands, and sponsors will bode well for the future.
In the early 2000s, watching a match on the television was considered an elite thing, and most people were dependent on the radio for the score and news updates. But now, all these updates are just a click away. From Facebook live to live-tweeting, from timely score updates to behind-the-scenes footage, the traditional way to follow sports has changed drastically.
A fan can get every action of the game with detailed insight from the experts on their fingertips. This has led to brands coming up with new and exciting ways to engage with the existing and potential audience on the digital platform.
Sporting bodies are also developing their media platforms and companies, such as NBL TV and AFL Media, bypassing the traditional news media to broadcast the games and update fans with news regarding the club/franchise.
Most of the sporting leagues are partnering with the broadcasters and OTT platforms for streaming live content. Be it Hotstar streaming IPL, FanCode streaming NBA, American football and MLB in India, Sony broadcasting UEFA Champions league or GSTV broadcasting LaLiga in the USA, the potential is huge, and the rate of return on investment is promising.
In 2017, two major sporting events saw enormous global reach over digital media- ICC Women’s World Cup in England & Wales and FIFA U17 World Cup 2017 in India. ICC Women’s World Cup in England & Wales estimated global reach was more than 180 million, which was almost 300% higher in viewing hours from the previous edition in 2013.
The interesting part of this global reach was South Africa’s viewing hours’ growth – a whopping 861%, as their team reached in the semi-final for the first time. India, the runner-up of the event, contributed to a 500% increase in viewing hours.
In the case of the FIFA U17 World Cup in India, the viewership over the digital platform attracted a large audience to the respective screens. According to Sony India, the official broadcaster of the event, the opening game for the hosts against the USA attracted an audience of 1.8 million viewers. Over 71 million viewers watched at least one minute of coverage across all digital platforms, while India’s three games averaged an audience of 1.6 million.
The 2018 FIFA WC was undoubtedly the most-watched tournament across the world. As per the stats of the tournament, FIFA recorded over 7.5 billion engagements across all digital platforms and over 580 million interactions on social media, setting a record in the history of the tournament.
FIFA made revenue of $3 billion from the broadcasting rights of the tournament, with SONY TV bagging the rights for telecast in India, Pakistan, and Nepal for a value of $90 million. As for World Cup content views, YouTube was the most active platform followed by Instagram and Facebook with 3.5 billion, 2.2 billion, and 2.1 billion views, respectively.
With Covid-19 forcing to shut down all the live-action on the field in the past few months, the digital platform was one of the best ways to engage fans and keep them entertained. Most of the clubs, franchises, and companies came up with different ways to reach out to the fans and send out a strong message during tough times.
Most of the companies and sporting associations are currently engaging with the fans in the matches and competitions. Remember one thing, the one who Innovates wins and the one who stagnates perishes. Fans should always be in the centre because they’re the ones who ‘MAKE or BREAK’.
Digital media manages to keep fans happy and brings them ever closer to real time in sports during such unprecedented times, such as a pandemic. As long as technology keeps evolving, digital media will also evolve. The continuous development will make fan’s experience even better.
By Archil Katiyar