Millennial Fan Engagement, Smartphones, and Social Media: What They Mean for Sports Content

The way people are interacting with sports has changed drastically over the past 25 years. If we look back at the 1990’s, most sports content was centered on broadcast TV, with people gathering around the living room or going to the game itself. Radio and newspapers also played a marginal role in fan engagement.

The way people are interacting with sports has changed drastically over the past 25 years. If we look back at the 1990’s, most sports content was centered on broadcast TV, with people gathering around the living room or going to the game itself. Radio and newspapers also played a marginal role in fan engagement.

Fast forward to present day and sports content is now spread over most digital outlets. Fans can now watch full games on demand or opt for smaller, bite-size content such is the case on Snapchat. Twitter, for instance, is broadcasting college sports around the clock, Amazon is streaming Thursday Night Football, and as of last year, the NFL, the MLS, UEFA, the World Surf League (WSL), CrossFit, and MLB have all signed a contract with Facebook, featuring all sorts of highlights, game recaps, and other similar content.

A Major Shift in Sponsorship Trends

This change from TV to digital is not negligible either. As traditional media platforms are seeing a steady decrease in revenue growth, sports sponsorship is at an all-time high. As compared to 2017, this year has seen a 4.3% increase in global sponsorship revenue, adding up to a total of $65.8 billion; $24.2 billion of which being in the US. Sports sponsorship accounts for a whopping 70%.

One other interesting development here is the increased sponsor desire for an early exit from at least one of their sponsorships. Over 58% of sponsors find themselves in this category. One explanation may be the rightsholders’ unwillingness or inability to change with the times. When asked about their priorities, sponsors placed the presence on social and mobile media, as their second most important criterion after category exclusivity. By comparison to only last year, social and mobile jumped from the sixth to the second place in sponsor-desired priority order.

The Pros and Cons

For the most tech-savvy fans, namely millennials, this steady transition from TV to digital is more than welcome. Instead of queuing behind hundreds of other fans in the hopes of getting an autograph, they now prefer to go on Twitter and engage with their favorite players digitally. With a single push of a button, teams and players can now go live from the locker room, gym, or from home and interact with their fans.

And this is just the tip of the digital iceberg. Other trends such as VR and AR technologies can ‘place’ any fan right in the middle of the stadium, or allow them to watch the game from multiple angles while having access to on-demand instant replays. Convenience, versatility, and diversity are what millennials, smartphones, and social media bring to sports content.

For the sports teams themselves, this trend can be seen as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this diversity and room for experimentation will allow teams to be more on par with their competition and reach out to their fans in more meaningful and engaging ways. But on the other hand, however, the tangled web of social platforms, apps, and other technologies may be too much to handle.

Platforms such as Fanisko Engage can help sports teams by bringing all this bite-size content into a more easily manageable form. Instead of posting on all the different social apps in the hopes of engaging with as many fans as possible, teams can now use this one-size-fits-all platform and deliver their fans the convenience and content diversity they so much desire.

Like all meaningful changes, sports content and fan engagement are now going through a transition period where those who catch on quickly will have the most to gain.

Role of Sponsorship in Digital Fan Engagement

There is an estimated of over $65 billion that will be spent on sponsorship worldwide in 2018. That’s a $2.5 billion increase from 2017. What’s more, 70% of all that money will go into sports. In other words, sports sponsorship is a thriving business and here is an example to prove it.

There is an estimated of over $65 billion that will be spent on sponsorship worldwide in 2018. That’s a $2.5 billion increase from 2017. What’s more, 70% of all that money will go into sports. In other words, sports sponsorship is a thriving business and here is an example to prove it.

It is somewhat hard to consider soccer as being part of the American sports culture. Yet, interest in it has been steadily rising over the past years. In fact, some 50% of US citizens said that they have at least a basic interest in the sport. The 18 to 29-year-old demographic shows the most interest in soccer, something which presented an opportunity waiting to be exploited. Back in 2006, Red Bull bought the MetroStars, a Major League soccer team from New York. It should not come as a surprise then, that US soccer fans consume 63% more Red Bull than any other energy drink on the market.

Soccer is the highest-grossing sport in the world and brands flock to it in an attempt at ‘getting a piece of the action.’ The US soccer market is relatively new and still presents ample opportunities for a high ROI. But soccer is not the only sport in this category. Skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding are just a few other examples of sports whose main fan base are people under the age of 30 and who present an opportunity for high sponsorship ROI. This demographic is also the one most likely to use social media as their main platform for engagement.

Social Media, Sponsorship, and Sports 

Sponsorship executives agree that social media will be the road going forward. Over 80% of fans use it either from home or even at the stadium. On Twitter, for example, sports-related content is the most common, and this should not come as a surprise based on the platform’s commitment to live sports streams. In short, brands and sports leagues/teams now have a wider range of platforms from where to generate revenue.

The challenge that remains, however, is to generate entertaining content so as to maximize the potential that social platforms have to offer. A lot of sports teams have digital apps of their own, but because of the wide array of social outlets out there and the diversity in content that exists; fans keep themselves updated about their favorite teams, but do it almost anywhere else except on their team’s app. The potential is there, but the delivery is still lacking in many places.

Platforms like Fanisko Engage are able to address the issue and aid sports teams and leagues retain the attention of their fan base. It does this by providing all sorts of engaging content like live play-by-play predictions, AR/VR games, engagement rewards, or personalized streaming of news and events, among others, all specially tailored to keep fans engaged on the team’s own app. Sponsored content is provided via non-intrusive videos, native ads, surveys, and powered sponsor messaging, so as to not impede fan engagement.

The future of sports sponsorship is certain like John Abbamondi, vice president of the NBA’s Team Marketing & Business Operations division, said back in 2014“Sports is a people business, so we’re looking for ways to use technology to further engage with people.” His statement has since become apparent; given the increased attention digital sponsorship is receiving just several years later.

Fan Engagement Drives Business and Millennials are willing to pay for it

Platforms like the Fanisko Engage help both teams and fans alike by providing all of this scattered content under the same roof. It increases the fans’ engagement time with the team, it offers live play-by-play predictions, top trending content, AR/VR gaming, engagement rewards, fan behavioral analytics, call-to-action campaigns that draw fans to the stadium, all making up for lost revenue.

The TV Era of fan engagement is slowly but surely coming to a close. People are still watching sports on TV, yes, but it is not the only entertainment provider out there. Now it’s all about social media and the different outlets it provides. In a 2017 interview, Robert Kraft, principal owner of the New England Patriots, said that “[Millennials] don’t watch TV, they don’t have TVs or subscribe to cable. So we have to bring that audience in.”

He is right, of course. A lot of revenue came from TV ads, but since people are no longer watching TV as they used to, naturally, that revenue also went down. Sports leagues are now scrambling to find ways on how to make up for that loss but they feel stuck in the ‘stone age,’ not knowing how to approach the issue.

Fan Engagement in the 21st Century

Millenials and the younger generation are all over social media nowadays. The general interest in sports has also waned a bit, especially with those 24 and younger, but most people still consider themselves avid sports fans. In the US, that number is around 86% of the general population, with millennials showing the most interest in sports.

But since they’re no longer watching TV, what they do instead is to turn to the almighty internet and get their sports content there. In fact, 92% of all those under 24 get their sports information from social media. What they like most about it is the fact that the entertainment keeps on going long after the game ended. Like Brian Hughes, senior VP of audience intelligence and strategy at MAGNA Global USA puts it “[Their] increased interest in short-term things, like stats and quick highlights… has funneled some young viewers away from TV.”

And it’s precisely because of those “short-term things” that sports leagues and teams find it so hard to engage with their fans. Most of them have mobile apps of their own, but millennials are almost anywhere on the internet, looking up their team, except on the team’s app.

Platforms like the Fanisko Engage help both teams and fans alike by providing all of this scattered content under the same roof. It increases the fans’ engagement time with the team, it offers live play-by-play predictions, top trending content, AR/VR gaming, engagement rewards, fan behavioral analytics, call-to-action campaigns that draw fans to the stadium, all making up for lost revenue.

The Really Good Part

Statistics show that over 90% of sports fans are willing to pay for sports programming. Millennials, unlike their older counterparts, are willing to pay the most for premium sports content, probably because the older generations got used to receiving theirs for free from TV.

Whatever the case, the market is there waiting to be seized, but the problem still remains with the sport’s teams who can’t seem to find a way of capitalizing on this fan engagement. Platforms like Fanisko can provide this bridge and allow for a streamlined and all-encompassing fan engagement virtual space.

Technology Is Taking the Sports Fan Experience to a Whole New Level

There is no denying the fact that technology is changing the way fans engage with their teams. On-demand entertainment is pushing advertisers and media companies to look for new ways on how to capitalize on this fragmented digital landscape.

There is no denying the fact that technology is changing the way fans engage with their teams. On-demand entertainment is pushing advertisers and media companies to look for new ways on how to capitalize on this fragmented digital landscape. TV viewership is in slowly fading as fans are now accessing all sorts of streaming packages online.

These digital options allow fans to not only watch a sporting event but to also be more engaged by it. In today’s world, fans have a multitude of options available to them. They can watch high-definition highlights; have access to play-by-play predictions, behind-the-scenes content, AR/VR interactions and games, up-to-date events, and much more – all from the comfort of their own homes.

The Digital Fan

This high-degree of convenience and increased level of engagement offers sports leagues and individual teams a set of unique opportunities that weren’t there before. With digital platforms such as the Fanisko Engage, sports fans have access to all of that fragmented content instantaneously and from the same source. They can keep themselves updated on what their teams are doing 24/7, becoming more engaged and connected as a result. Sports teams can now understand the wants and needs of their fans by making use of digital analytics provided by these platforms so as to enhance the fan experience and not actually distract from it.

The NBA is a living testament to the benefits of what digital fan engagement can bring. It makes clever use of what today’s technology has to offer in order to make its fans more engaged and more actively involved in sharing their enthusiasm with others. In an interview, Courtney Brunious, the associate director of the USC Sports Institute, said that “[The] NBA has been one of the most forward-looking leagues in terms of technology, in terms of being on top of new innovations in tech. As a whole, I would say the NBA is probably the most tech-savvy amongst the leagues.”

From Screen to the Ballgame

This high level of digitization, quality, and convenience has also pushed for more engagement in the stadiums. High-speed internet is available in many stadiums around the country, allowing fans to check instant replays, order food, drinks and merchandise to be brought to their seats, and even look for the shortest line to the bathroom.

Fans are now looking for both convenience and diversity in the way they connect with their teams. The future of sports lies in this interconnectivity that brings together teams, venues, and fans like never before. Understanding how technology is evolving and how it can be implemented into the industry is incremental for the success of every league or the individual team. It doesn’t really matter how big they are, or how large the venue is as long as their fan base is consistently growing. And the only safe way to do that is to keep up with technology and what trends are there, ready to enhance the fan experience.

Keeping up with the Millennial Tech-Savvy Sports Fan

The world is changing, and it’s changing so fast that many businesses, big and small, can hardly keep up. The same thing can be said about sports leagues and teams who are finding it increasingly hard to understand, or even engage with their fans anymore.

The world is changing, and it’s changing so fast that many businesses, big and small, can hardly keep up. The same thing can be said about sports leagues and teams who are finding it increasingly hard to understand, or even engage with their fans anymore.

It was not that long ago when broadcast and cable television dominated sports viewership. This made it somewhat easy for sports leagues to track their fans’ likes, dislikes, habits, and preferences since TV acted as a sort of “funnel” where most supporters gathered to consume their product. But those days are fast disappearing and TV’s monopoly on entertainment is now over.

Statistics show that traditional TV viewership is in decline among all demographics below the age of 49. Teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 are showing the greatest decrease, with their viewership dropping by a whopping 11% year after year. Sports also seems to take an extra hit as people between the ages of 18 to 24 show the least interest in it among all other entertainment shows.

From TV to Social Media

Despite these facts, there is still some hope. While traditional TV viewership may be declining, digital usage is on the rise. What’s more, 86% of Americans still consider themselves sports fans. Even more hopeful is the fact that the majority of these fans, especially those between the ages of 15 and 36, are willing to pay for quality sports content.

Among millennials, the most commonly used outlets from where they get their sports content are Facebook and YouTube, and a total of 92% of sports fans between the ages of 18 and 24 use social media as their main source for sports information.

What really draws millennials and the so-called Generation Z (those born after 2000) to these digital outlets is the convenience of having access to all sorts of highlights, bloopers, or behind-the-scenes perspectives that keep the entertainment going long after the game is over.

Enter Fanisko Engage

Sports teams have tried to get ahead of the game here by creating their own digital apps in an attempt at keeping their fans entertained. But while fans are consistently engaged with their teams, they are doing it in all sorts of digital places except within the team’s app.

What Fanisko Engage does here is to bring both the benefits of social media and traditional TV viewing into one platform. Fans no longer need to change from Facebook to YouTube to Instagram to Twitter and then back again since all they need is within this one-stop engagement platform. It also offers live play-by-play predictions, AR/VR games, engagement rewards, and personalized content to keep the fanbase “under the same roof.”

Fans are sure to respond to this sort of diversity as well as the convenience of having everything they need on one single platform. It increases their engagement time, it keeps them on the team’s page for longer, and because of the integrated analytics system, it helps the marketing department better understand their wants and needs for a better overall experience.