Content Marketing for Sports Organizations – Embracing a New Era of Options

February 3, 2017 12:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

In my latest white paper (download here) I’ve attempted to paint a high level and exhaustive picture of the content marketing landscape for sports organizations in 2017 (a nearly impossible task in such a rapidly changing space). I’ve provided historic information to provide context, some new primary data from friends at Canadian sports organizations, and some suggestions for how sports organizations can navigate this new world.


In many ways, this white paper is long overdue. One could even say that the topic is old news.


Streaming sports content over the internet is not a new concept… it’s been happening for nearly 20 years. It was in March of 2003 when Major League Baseball first offered a full season streaming package to its fans for $79.99 (USD). Now, 14 years later, a spun-off company from MLB, BAMTech, is changing how fans of all different sports watch games.


Social media is not a new arena either. Facebook has been popular for over 11 years, and Twitter and Instagram have been providing a popular channel for sports marketers to share images and video content for nearly a decade.


What has changed in recent years is the abundance of platform options that are available to distribute sports content directly to the consumer (inclusive of live video), and the undeniable proof that younger consumers are now opting for digital platforms over cable subscriptions.


Sports Content Marketing Distribution


An array of content distribution platforms are now available to sports organizations. Additionally, organizations can now very easily create their own platforms for content distribution.


Facebook Live was launched only last April, but has already been leveraged by sports organizations to drive engagement for millions of fans. Instagram Live was only launched in November, but was immediately embraced by sports organizations and personalities.


In October, the CRTC reported that Canadians now spend more money on internet services than television subscriptions (for the first time in history). As a result of this consumer trend, Canadian cable companies have been losing over 50,000 subscribers per quarter.


In just the last couple of years, the pace of change on this front has been so rapid that even the largest sports content marketing company in the world has had to change their strategy:

  • John Skipper, ESPN President in February 2016: “For the foreseeable future the predominance of content that people consume on television or video will be in a pay TV bundle. We have authenticated TV. All our content is available on any device. The idea of going direct to consumer with that content is not the best way to drive value right now.”
  • Bob Iger, Disney CEO (ESPN’s parent company) in February 2017: “I can tell you that it is our full intent to go out there aggressively with digital offerings direct to the consumer, for ESPN and other Disney-branded properties.”


Sports marketers from all industry sectors can no longer afford to ground their content marketing strategies in assumptions derived from previous realities. My hope is that people who work in sports marketing can read my most recent white paper and find something in it that will trigger a new way of approaching content marketing for their organization.


While there is no one-size-fits-all solution in terms of content production or content distribution practices, I would say that there is an over-arching requirement for sports organizations in this new era to at least be informed, open-minded, and flexible. I hope that this publication will help your team get there.

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This post was written by Mitch Thompson, Former Consultant

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