Sports are a powerful entity in the media and entertainment world. They’re regularly deemed immune to the effects of today’s shifting content consumption habits as ratings of live sports and other sports programs are among the highest.
However, those new habits have definitely changed how sports-catered content is consumed. No longer present are the days of sitting around the TV, noshing on some drinks and finger foods and cheering on your favorite team without a mobile device present in the room. Digital devices and mobile apps have vastly changed how this content is consumed
From Twitter to Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, social media has become ingrained into the experience of watching sports. Sports lovers will regularly check their feeds for commentary and conversation around the game, breaking news updates, stats, scores of other games and instant-access replays before the broadcast can show it to them.
Forbes contributor, Anthony DiMoro, notes that 67 percent of viewers use Twitter to enhance their sports watching experience, for example. “Essentially, Twitter is the virtual sports bar that fans flock to before, during and after the games.”
The immense growth of fantasy sports through mobile and desktop services is staggering. Because of this, loyalty among viewers watching a game has a whole new dynamic: people find themselves rooting for a player on a team they normally would root against.
A report from St. John Fischer College notes that “when individuals begin to get more involved in their fantasy teams, they end up making their fantasy team a higher priority and perhaps even consume less of their favorite team.” The report notes that users prioritize their fantasy teams due to their direct involvement and active participation in managing a team.
Major League Baseball’s tech division, MLB Advanced Media, has revolutionized live streaming services, especially as it pertains to sports. They run MLB.TV, a streaming service that allows subscribers to watch any baseball game around the country, except in their home market (to avoid competition with MLB’s media partners broadcasting the game).
This service has been lauded as one of the best tech offerings out there and it has been outsourced to a slew of other sports leagues and enterprises. These partnerships have opened up vast subscription offerings for each sport.
This technology is being expanded upon with Disney’s recent investment in MLBAM, which will spawn an ESPN-branded subscription service (Disney owns ESPN) with custom original content.
Digitally native platforms are now live streaming NFL games as people become increasingly glued to their phones and computers. Last year, Yahoo live streamed the Buffalo Bills versus Jacksonville Jaguars game played in London. This was the guinea pig test to stream a live game solely through a digital partner. While there were some bandwidth bumps and bruises to overcome, the NFL viewed the partnership as a success as it pulled in 33.6 million views.
Twitter will be streaming NFL games on its mobile app and desktop website this season, with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets game on Thursday, September 15, being the first. One would expect to have a custom algorithm pulling in related tweets in conjunction with the live stream, which would further enhance the aforementioned social media integration into the viewing experience.
With the media landscape changing on a nearly constant basis, it remains to be seen how the sports viewing experience will continue to evolve to keep up with consumers’ consumption habits. For now, sports fans will have to get a handle on the current offerings.