C4 drop YouTube – Sports brands pay attention

Guest Post:  Matthew Quinn (@matthewaquinn) is currently ranked 22nd in the Top 50 VOD Professionals table, StreamUK’s Digital Solutions Director spent 10 years working for LiverpoolFC’s digital media department beginning with content production and eventually managing video systems and the strategic delivery of club media through TV, web and mobile outputs for both the official channels and club partners. He is now working with StreamUK to help several other Premier League Football clubs deliver their own video service.

This week Channel4 announced it was pulling all of its long form content from YouTube,

“As a not-for-profit broadcaster funded by advertising, we put our money back into the programmes themselves. To make the best of this investment, we’ve decided to focus on bringing online viewers of our full-length shows to our own 4oD apps – such as those on iOS, Android and channel4.com. These apps also allow us to encourage more viewing by recommending programmes we think people will appreciate, and to provide viewers with additional services.”

Should sports digital media departments be paying much attention to this? Damn right you should.

When it comes to YouTube in sports (specifically the English Premier League) I would like to see some reflection on this news and a review of the use of YouTube (and other social channels for that matter). Social media output from sports clubs has expanded rapidly over the last few years. There seems to have been a desperate clamber for vanity stats. When it comes to YouTube clubs should be focusing on its ability to attract fans who don’t use official media channels.

There is also an adjacent fan base who like a different sport or another team in a different country, they may have an affinity to your club by a player from their Nation or co-ownership of multiple sports ventures such as Red Sox/Liverpool, Man City/New York City FC. Give your audience something to entice them then do something with them that is positive for both parties. Avoid canibalising any existing commercial offerings (my real bugbear), gather as much useful data from these channels as possible and using all this information define and continuously redefine a strategy for YouTube that has a real value to the brand.

Don’t be afraid to pull something if it isn’t working, if something is working really well could it be used on the main site to greater effect?

Monetisation wise YouTube doesn’t maximise revenue potential for content owners as C4 have highlighted. As equally important YouTube just doesn’t allow brands to uphold their identity enough and viewers are a click away from an unofficial channel, an unrelated channel or something altogether unsavoury, not something you want associated to your brand. However from a marketing perspective YouTube can be used as a very powerful tool. The issue here is the often separate department objectives and strategies that don’t always complement each other.

Whole business strategies for online video need to be considered for the future given it’s potential across the board to help brands connect with their audience and generate new revenue opportunities. I’m not just talking about the commercial or marketing departments. Communications, internal and external, press, sports science, scouting, learning, community, all these departments can benefit from the clever use of this technology. Video is not just a commercial tool, it is the most powerful mass communication method out there so don’t fritter it on ineffective 3 minute YouTube clips.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying YouTube is evil, it is actually brilliant as for the lay user looking for content. But for a brand it needs to be used properly. There is always room for YouTube as part of a strategy, in fact it should most likely be mandatory for any brand using video, but defining it within a larger strategy is the key.

The reality of sports content being available in many places now means clubs need to embrace these social outlets to entice their audience, this requires content syndication. Technology strategies are no less important, it could be argued they go hand in hand. Importantly this is also another bit that could cost or save you money! Building content syndication into an efficient media workflow is critical.

No one should have to upload a video to 5 different platforms (Official Site, YouTube, apps, Vimeo, FTP or RSS syndication to partners, etc). It is timely, expensive and diminishes your potential to create more valuable content. So while you may look at your content strategies, always keep an eye on the “How” element of the equation.

Ultimately reflection is required here on your existing output, your targets and goals. An effective media strategy requires you to equip yourself with the right staff, the commitment from the business and the correct tools for the job. Ultimately aim to build your own FCoD/ClubTube service that serves the club, its partners and the fans as widely and as smartly as possible.