27th April 2023 - By: christiancollison

The Evolution of Sports Revenue

sports stadium

We’re on the cusp of the biggest evolution in the creation of sports revenue since broadcasting rights ushered in a new dawn of sports spectatorship.  

There are now so many options to generate income in the sports space. Broadcasters are still the primary outlet for many of our most-loved sports but media rights deals are becoming more complicated and diluting the ability for fans to watch their favourite teams on one channel, under one subscription. 

The emergence of digital platforms has provided almost-endless opportunities for sports clubs to directly reach their audiences outside of a match scenario. But this also brought new issues as clubs adapted to the changing media landscape.  

During this time, social-media savvy millennials rose through the ranks and grew their influence within sports organisations. As a result, we’ve seen new and exciting ways clubs and rights holders have been engaging their audience. It’s the direct influence of those comfortable in the digital space but we still haven’t scratched the surface in terms of revenue opportunities in digital.  

While sports organisations have settled into the new digital-media-hungry world, the landscape’s giants have been battling it out to entice and retain content creators. This ongoing fight has almost gone unnoticed to the masses but the outcomes cannot be ignored.  

Facebook, YouTube and Instagram have all unlocked monetisation features to retain their content creators. Twitter will soon be in on the act too and we haven’t even mentioned TikTok. Now, instead of pushing people towards broadcasters, or branded, often clunky, OTT platforms, organisations can earn directly from their social media audiences.  

What are the benefits?

Direct revenue, increased commercial opportunities, personalised content – the benefits are numerous and often naturally align with overall business objectives.  

Data acquisition is another advantage, as is the ability to act dynamically with that data to consistently improve the fan experience and generate further reach, recognition and returns.  

It’s important to understand that data collection should still be key in any strategy. It might seem like an easy option to run all content and engagement through social media but clubs and rights holders still need to capture fan data for growth.  

Driving data acquisition opens up further commercial opportunities in both a digital and traditional sense but it’s what you do with those opportunities, and where, that can be a game changer.

Social media subscriptions

The benefits of this cannot be underestimated. Take for instance a campaign to drive OTT subscriptions and its KPIs, likely to be a 2-3% conversion rate from social media to website, and a further 2-3% conversion into paying subscribers. There’s a lot of work that goes into driving customers into OTT platforms that, for many, barely break even.  

Today the focus should be on directly converting the existing audience inside the platform they’re already using. What does this mean? Well, instead of running social media campaigns to push traffic onto a website and conversions into an OTT, simply focusing on converting the social media audience instead.  

We hit 1-2% conversion rates on social media audiences which means 2% of your Facebook, Instagram or YouTube audiences becoming paid subscribers. That’s a lot of revenue being left on the table by clubs and rights holders across the globe not considering social subscriptions. 

Digital rights

Naming rights, title channels and niche audiences can be segmented to fit a partners’ needs and produce collaborative content that resonates.  

By unlocking the power of digital audiences to create niche commercial opportunities, clubs and rights holders can not only show improved ROI for their sponsors but combat the need for cash-focused deals often led by betting firms.  

Sports betting is a rapidly growing market that’s been valued at over $200 billion but is often one-sided and prevents growth from a club or rights holder’s perspective. Digital rights, when utilised properly, will help grow both partner audiences through harmonious values, principles and objectives.  

That’s the point of commercials in the digital age, they should work for both parties to share key messaging to new people and entice engagement from both club and partner audiences. This can be achieved by considering personalised communication plans to niche audience segments.

Why does this work?

People don’t want to leave the platforms they’re in. If you’re scrolling through Instagram, you won’t hit another website. Why do they need to anyway, if they’re already in the club’s database? 

Instead, consider tailoring content to the specific social channels that offers to the two things most sports audiences want, entertainment and access.  

On Facebook, you may take a more analytical approach to content – pre-match coach QnAs – while on Instagram it may be more focused on the culture – post-match changing room or team travel.  

The point is to keep the content production the same as users expect on that platform and then tailor subscription content to the niche audience likely to subscribe on that platform – perhaps it’s Gen X on Facebook, Millennials on Instagram and Gen Z on TikTok.  

As a result, these audiences are highly engaged through their tailored content and are now tempting segments of society for mutually-aligned commercial partners.  

The conclusion

The opportunities digital provides are seemingly-endless, so it can be hard to define a sustainable strategy that aligns with overall business objectives. There are often too many distractions, like the recent NFT craze, but with consistent content commercialisation strategies, clubs and rights holders can not only drive growth to build strong, loyal audiences but unlock new, residual revenue streams in the process.  

Now’s the time to truly utilise your digital assets to their full potential. If you need any help or have any questions, get in touch with a member of the Nifty team today.