Last year we covered the first Sport Social Media Index, compiled by the guys at Umpf in Leeds and ranked by a panel of four judges. The list covers 148 professional football, rugby and cricket teams in the UK and is the most comprehensive of its kind.
Recently I was invited to write an article on the Vodafone small business blog “Your Better Business”, which I was delighted to accept. The objective of the article was to give an overview of how the sports media industry has been transformed by changes in technology and what the future holds for the industry. Below is my summary and you can see the original here, love to hear if you agree….
Widely available internet access has enabled anyone’s voice to be heard, and on a scale never imaginable of before. I’ve been blogging on sport and the impact of digital media on it for the last five years and it’s only the ready availability of free websites like WordPress, cheap hosting and social media to promote articles and research new ones that has really made it possible.
The impact that technology has had on sport and how it is reported, whether it’s on certain niches such as digital and sport or more general discussions around teams and leagues around the world, has been huge. Previously you could say that sport needed the media, almost on an unconditional basis. But the boot is now firmly on the other foot so to speak.
Marc Cooper, until recently the Head of Audience and Content at The Football League, gave some insight into how the relationship between fans, the media and football teams has changed;
“Football clubs have always been able to give fans certain things that other media can’t, which is information and confirmation. Fans may have read about their team being linked with certain players, and they’ll look to their club website to confirm it. But fans want more than that. They want to be entertained too, and they want to know more about the players at their club. That’s another area that clubs can serve the fans well.”
It’s not only the major sports that have reaped the benefits of being in a more connected world. The so-‐called ‘lesser known sports’ can now act as their own media company, not having to rely on the scraps available within mainstream publications. This really is a game changer for them and will help raise awareness for their sport and get people interested in playing and/or watching it.
So where does that leave the journalist? The truth is that this has been the most radical shift in the media business in generations. And as with all periods of change there will be a time of adjustment as the old slowly learns how to work with and make use of the new.
The journalist is now the independent trusted resource, the one who has used his/her contacts and found out what is actually happening, not just the rumours (most of the time). They can spend time putting together great analysis and speak directly to the players involved. They are now the authentication, the experts we turn to when in doubt.
The relationship between fans and the media will continue to evolve as technology provides even greater access and insight. Fans will undoubtedly be the winners as the media they consume revolves more around when and where they want to do so.
Geo targeting of information is becoming more refined, helping to merge the online and offline worlds. We will see teams and leagues take back more control of their media, relying less on media rights as they produce their own income from subscriptions, sponsorship and advertising. Until those rights packages that are sold now become unsustainable, or Apple or Google bid for them, then this will take more time to see any radical shifts in live sports especially.
We are still in the early days of this explosion in media and technology, the tip of the iceberg in fact. But what it safe to say is that for media companies to stay relevant there needs to be a change in the mind sets of those involved. To become more fan-centric and deliver the types of content when they want it and how they want it.
The speed of change we are seeing now is frightening at times but this also means that new opportunities are opening up everyday. These gaps in the market are there to be seized upon by whoever is brave and forward thinking enough to spot them. There’s never been a more exciting time to be working in this industry than now!
We Play are a leading digital sports marketing agency. Specialising in strategy, fan insight, production and content distribution, we work with brands, sponsors, athletes and startups to help them build engaged, retained and loyal fan bases.
Guest Post: Tom Kelk is a tech/sport blogger and Senior Social Exec at communications agency, Pitch. You can find him on Twitter (@TomKelk), LinkedIn and his blog
TechCrunch reported last week that SnapChat have just agreed a deal with, Eric Toda, Nike’s Director of Digital, to come on board to help SnapChat develop further in sport.
Even the most casual of sports fan cannot fail to have noticed the increasing influence technology has on sport and for people at the sharp end of the industry, this influence is even more significant.
The coaches, referees, broadcasters and athletes who are immersed daily in sport, prosper hugely from technology’s offerings and so it’s only right that the people behind the innovations are justly recognized.
In a year that has seen a World Cup, an Olympics, a Commonwealth Games and a Ryder Cup as well as the launch of new initiatives such as Formula E, there have been some stand-out uses of technology. The introduction of goal line technology at the World Cup finals caused headlines before the tournament, whilst vanishing foam captured audiences’ attention during the contest.
Following recent articles, including by yours truly, about the Ryder Cup not allowed ticket holders to upload images or video to social media during the tournament, the Ryder Cup team have come out with an announcement to clear things up.
Social media interaction, photography and the sharing of content are all going to be encouraged at The 2014 Ryder Cup, according to the organisers. Though not everywhere on the course.
Ryder Cup Europe has moved to reassure spectators that they will be allowed to take photos and video on their mobile phones during the event, and will be encouraged to share their experiences on social networks.
A range of initiatives are already in place for visitors to engage with when they arrive at the event. This includes the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which will allow spectators to take part in fun activities around the course and share their experiences instantly on social media using a special wristband.
Ryder Cup Europe has also been working with the Scottish Government and mobile phone providers to provide ultrafast 4G wireless connections across the venue.
But organisers have rules in place for spectators on the course at Gleneagles in order to avoid disrupting players and the experience of other spectators. This is where it will still be hard for officials to police…
The use of cameras (and phones?) will be prohibited at each hole during play in order to avoid disrupting players and to enable a clear line of sight for all spectators, many of whom will be standing or sitting around the course rather than in a raised position in a grandstand.
Edward Kitson, Match Director of The 2014 Ryder Cup, said:
“We want people to share their stories online and feel part of The Ryder Cup. We have put in place a range of fantastic activities in the tented village and around the course that use technology to improve the visitor experience, and these are integrated with social networks. Selfies are positively encouraged and I expect to see plenty of them during the event.
“However, I’m sure everyone will understand that we have to draw a line in the interests of fair play and respect for the players and fellow spectators. Therefore no photography or video will be allowed during play at any hole. This is something we fully expect everyone to support given that The Ryder Cup is won and lost on very fine margins: we want to give the teams every chance of a level playing field and ensure everyone can see the action.”
Hopefully it will go smoothly but I imagine stopped people taking pictures of the final moments of the tournament will be exceptionally tough. It’s understandable that people trying to get a shot of their favourite player can be enormously off putting to said player, indeed there have been arguments between players and photographers/spectators about this for many years. It’s not just come about through the widespread use of social media.
Hopefully everything will go smoothly on the day, and fingers crossed for another victory for Europe!
About We Play
We Play are a results driven social media agency that specialises in commercialising the relationship between brands and sports fans.
Founded by young entrepreneur Luca Massaro (ex Chelsea FC/Target Media/Gumtree), with the vision to become the leading sport social media agency. We Play’s clients include 888sport, Moneygram, WhoScored.com, Sportlobster.com, Fantasy League, Yonex, Fieldoo, Ultimate Fan Live, Matchpint, London FA and the Amateur FA.
The team at We Play is young, motivated and the Central London office is fast-paced. This role requires someone determined and entrepreneurial with the ambition to succeed at the highest level.
What is the Role?
We are looking for an enthusiastic and energetic sports fan with experience within a sales environment. This person will be working within the current business development team to assist in generating new business from prospective clients. The role:
- Identifying leads
- Evaluating the social strategies of potential clients
- Managing the company’s client acquisition strategy and CRM database
- Calling prospective clients to promote our services
- Arrange meetings aimed at securing new client acquisition
- Hitting weekly outreach targets
- Pitch development and execution
- Undergraduate degree at (2:1) level or above
- 2+ years experience in sales and marketing environment
- Excellent communication skills
- Must have knowledge of sector and a track record for sales
- Database of relevant industry contacts
- Proficient knowledge of digital marketing and social media
- Passionate sports fan with knowledge of multiple sports
- Desire to develop self and go further than what is asked
- A hunger for the industry and in achieving against set targets
- Be motivated to attend regular networking events
- Ability to work in a small team whilst also be self-directed and manage own tasks and responsibilities
- Table Tennis and Pool skills
- Strong sense of humour and a good level of banter
To apply for this role please send your CV and a covering letter to email@example.com. – Good luck!
GUEST POST: Joe Struggles is a freelance writer and Content Marketing Executive working on behalf of Farnell.
After enjoying a lengthy summer of sport, with the World Cup, Wimbledon, the Commonwealth Games and the imminent opening weekend of the English Premier League, it’s quite clear sport has come a long way since using jumpers for goalposts and shirts or skins for sides.
A somewhat of a sporting Svengali for progress came from France’s No. 10 Karim Benzema in Brazil, who broke Honduran hearts after aiding in the first-ever goal to be awarded at a major tournament using Goal-line Technology. Not only did this refuel the debate over whether technology is helping or hindering sport, but it raised questions over whether to blow the whistle on game gadgetry after taking it too far.
Taking a glance at cricket, particularly at when English rose Stuart Broad failed to walk after an apparent edge against the Aussies at the 2013 Ashes, there have been conflicting opinions on the reliability of Hot Spot, which, despite being implemented since 2006, was withdrawn from play after the tournament. Nowadays, the ever-reliant Hawk Eye backs the Snickometer at the crease, but for how long until another teammate walks?
On the defending team there are a string of sports where technology is seen as a saviour, such as the case of Hawk Eye in tennis – as we’re sure John McEnroe will probably agree. Wide-eyed empires, once subjected to endless scrutiny after making almost inhuman split-second decisions, were saved by accurate, indisputable results and the game still benefits today.
As with many aspects of sport, the introduction of newer, more advanced technologies must be tweaked, tuned and trained with trial and error. However with so many technologies being brought in and shipped out, this handy visualisation from http://uk.farnell.com/ is a great way of keeping on top of these technological transfers, including those with potential after some one-to-one management or those who should hang up their boots for the good of the game.
Ultimate Fan Live yesterday announced a new free mobile app that offers fans a social way to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Fans who are not able to attend the World Cup in Brazil this summer can play the second screen fantasy football game using any iOS device. Instead of just watching on TV, Ultimate Fan Live players can compete in real time against their Facebook friends in a second screen game that syncs with the live match.
The unique mobile app provides a platform in which up to five friends compete against each other during live matches. They pick players and earn points based on players’ live performance on the pitch. In this way, friends engage with the game in real time and compete to top the Ultimate Fan Live ranks.
“Football viewing is no longer solely a passive spectator experience. Fantasy Football games are outdated, appealing only to hardcore fans that invest for an entire season. The promise of second screen offers an exciting new way to enjoy the World Cup with your friends.” – Sohail Godall, CEO and founder of Ultimate Fan Live.
Unlike traditional fantasy football leagues, Ultimate Fan Live can be used for short 90-minute games, so players do not need to commit for an entire season. It will enable millions of World Cup viewers around the world to have an even deeper level of enjoyment of matches as they try to follow the players in their game and not just those with the ball.
Philip Kelly-Ayo, an engineer who has been one of the app’s beta testers commented: “As Ultimate Fan Live is based on real data it offers a level of social connectivity and a deeper investment in the match being broadcast. It’s also a great source of banter with my friends!”
Ultimate Fan Live is available globally from the App Store for all iOS devices from 10th June 2014 for all 2014 FIFA World Cup live matches.
On Monday 23rd June I’ll have the pleasure of being on a panel as part of Birkbeck University’s Business Week (which runs from 23rd – 26th). The panel, as the title suggests, is quite a broad one but will mainly be looking at the ‘mega sport events’ such as London 2012 and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. It’s an event I’m really looking forward to, there are more details on it below…
You can get more details on the event and find the booking link (it’s free to attend) on http://www.bbk.ac.uk/bizweek
Digital technology and social media are playing an increasingly important role in the business of sport, particularly in the management of sports events. This keynote and panel session will discuss contemporary usage and possible future trends in digital technology and social media in sport. The keynote speaker, Richard Ayers, is the founder and CEO of Seven League, a digital media firm with a specialism in sport. He has worked as Head of Digital for Manchester City FC and is also proud to have helped Channel 4 with their digital coverage of the Paralympics 2012.
Richard will discuss his rich experience in the field, drawing on his knowledge of music, film, newspapers and publishing, as well as sport. In particular, he will examine:
- the capacity sports organisations have to facilitate and moderate engagement from various audiences;
- the ways in which social media can be used for the good of sport; and
- issues around data visualisation and ‘datatainment’.
The panel members will each introduce themselves, explain their backgrounds and views on digital technology and social media and discuss how these technologies were used in London 2012 and how they are being (and will be) used in Rio. In particular, the panellists will discuss what the challenges are that sports organisations and host cities face in this field. There will also be an opportunity for a lively question-and-answer session.
- Alex Balfour: Former Chief Digital Officer at the Engine Group and Head of New Media at LOCOG
- Tom Thirwall: CEO, Bigballs Films
- Dan McLaren: Founder and Editor-in-Chief, UK Sports Network
- Gill Leivesley: Management Consultant, Takeout
- George Rousoss: Professor of Pervasive Computing, Birkbeck (CS & IS)
Topics will include the ability of sports organisations to facilitate and moderate engagement from various audiences, the ways in which social media can be used for the good of sport and challenges around data visualisation and ‘datatainment’.