The sports industry represents the 11th largest industry in the United States with an estimated net worth of $750 billion, according to Forbes. There is no question that this industry has taken one of the hardest hits to revenue as a result of the pandemic. Forbes reports that the three major U.S. sports leagues may see sales fall by about $13 billion as teams continue to face monetary threats from empty stadiums, lack of tourism, sponsorship revenue as well as lower capacity operations.
The National Football League (NFL) alone is facing a deficit of $2.7 billion in revenue due to reduced fan attendance from COVID-19 regulations, and many big Super Bowl advertisers have opted out as sponsors for this year’s game. The National Basketball Association (NBA) has lost an estimated $694 million, and Major League Baseball (MLB) has missed out on $5.2 billion while reducing its regular season from 162 games per team to 60.
Changing the Game: Pandemic Rebound & Growth
In today’s sports world, traditional approaches to revenue have fallen short amidst the pandemic. Revenue recovery will depend on new strategies, including fan experience beyond the gate.
Luckily, digital video-solution alternatives for sports marketers can capitalize on revenue and growth in a new way. The NFL, together with Microsoft Surface, have already taken the lead and is launching an interactive digital activation for the month of February to reconnect with fans and monetize their content like never before.
Also, as fanbases continue to grow, especially online, the sports industry is presented with a unique opportunity to capitalize on new, virtual engagement strategies that will ultimately drive revenue growth while creating more personalized experiences.
Interactive Video: A League of its Own for Sports Marketers
Sports Marketers and brands alike are taking note of the new trend in digital marketing: interactive video. More than just shoppable, interactive video is great for brands and industries who also want to expand on communication efforts at a more granular and fluid level.
Essentially, each video is layered with patented, interactive technology that allows for each object within the video to be identified and “brought to life” with descriptions, images, gifs, internal or external links, purchase options and more. Interactive technology can increase video engagement upwards of 400%, setting a new bar in the digital world terms of consumer experience, understanding and insights, brand loyalty, industry innovation leadership, monetization avenues (sponsorships, shoppability, etc.) and much more.
Revenue Recovery Options within Interactive Video
- Virtual Video Sponsorships
Interactivity provides ad and marketing slots on top of, or beside, videos that are contextually relevant and dynamic in the case of low ad or house inventory. For example, if a fan is online watching an interactive video of a basketball game, companies can dynamically highlight a dunk where a sponsorship overlay can appear and transform as the video progresses.
- E-Commerce Monetization
Interactive video can make any/all objects immediately shoppable – creating a revenue stream that did not previously exist. For example, online fans could see the option to click on and/or purchase a player’s jersey without being interrupted or having to leave the video experience. The data is driven by the video, with insights growing and driving personalization the longer the creative runs.
Fan Engagement Solutions within Interactive Video
- Convenience & Quality
In a survey conducted by Salesforce, 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs. Furthermore, 56% of customers actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies (while expecting a great level of data protection and security). Interactive video is this decade’s solution for raising consumer expectations and trust.
- Enhanced Communication
The advancement of interactive video has created a reality in which brands can more effectively communicate multiple messages to intended audiences in a way that sparks greater importance and builds awareness.
New Insights from Interactive Video
- Metadata & Analytics
Many providers currently supply logo data from live games days after the games air. These metadata insights should be delivered in real-time so immediate optimizations and adjustments can be made to in-arena placements, etc.
Conclusion: Stepping Up To the Plate
The marriage of creativity with results-driven analytics and performance, is propelling data-driven video avenues forward. Major sports leagues will want more ownership of their content, as well as opportunities to monetize their content even more deeply (whether the content has a long shelf-life or not).
Sports marketers: the ball is in your hands. The time for digital innovation is now, so start by testing out interactive fan experiences.