Account Manager and football fanatic Will, looks at COVID-19’s impact on live sport and how major sporting organisations and teams are using digital channels to evolve and adapt to keep fans engaged.
If like me, you rely on sport both inside and outside of your working life, then watching the cancellation of event after event, league after league and tournament after tournament has been pretty demoralising.
As a huge Liverpool fan, 2020 was set to be the big one. Madrid was special, this would eclipse it. Would the Premier League title finally arrive at Anfield? Well, everything was set. Sat 25 points clear at the top of the league and just two wins from the nine games remaining stood between a first title in 30 years. Or so we thought…
COVID-19 has quite rightly put a halt on live sport globally, but how are clubs, players and fans adapting to this new challenge? With the feeling of togetherness, sense of belonging and opportunity to get away from the everyday stresses that following a club, athlete or sport in general can give you now suspended for the foreseeable future, I’ve looked at some of the ways that sports are continuing to engage with their fans digitally and how we, as fans, can continue to engage with and even play the sports we love. More importantly though, what can you do to adapt, change and evolve during these uncertain times?
An oh so familiar picture these days – POSTPONED (Credit – Liverpoolfc.com)
Virtual tournaments and online challenges:
In tennis, the LTA are keeping fans engaged with a Fantasy Mixed Doubles tournament, where the audience can vote for their predicted outcome in a match between mouthwatering pairings of the past and present. I could only imagine the hysteria surrounding an A. Murray / S. Williams vs J. Murray / V. Williams Wimbledon Final. This is a fantastic way to encourage fans to engage not only with you as a brand, but with other fans globally. Why not set up your own virtual event via your social channels? Remember to like, comment on and share as many responses as possible!
Next up, you had the #StayAtHomeChallenge (also known as the toilet roll challenge) – who’d have thought it?! The opportunity to emulate and beat your sporting heroes. Personally, I managed 10 keepy ups, even if some were dubious and at the expense of some of our household ornaments… Creating fun (and topical) challenges are a great way to inject some excitement into peoples lives, especially when stuck inside. Perhaps it will be your idea that is next to take the world by storm.
Before the breakages.
I’ve seen lots of TV providers offering us an opportunity to engage with the sports we love. BT have asked if we’re ‘missing live sport?’, which of course we all are. I’m reluctant to spend money on a monthly pass to watch classic footage and full re-runs of matches. One of the things that cannot be recreated in a re-run for me, is the level of surprise, tension or unexpectedness that you get with live viewing.
The NBA have launched their #NBATogether campaign that aims to support, engage, educate and inspire youth, families and fans during the pandemic. You may even find yourself playing Call of Duty with a point-guard in the near future. This is where esports come in. Hardly a new craze, but certainly a rapidly growing phenomenon that gives you the opportunity to participate in live online matches and experience that much needed level of competition, mixed with excitement, anticipation and an element of the unknown.
On a similar note, it seems that everyone is now using apps or digital communication platforms to keep in touch with friends and family. Perhaps incorporating a communication system or a competitive element is something to consider when releasing your next update?
Esports are organised, multiplayer video game competitions and take place between professional players, individuals or teams.
Ultimately, we need our sporting fix, but what if we are in lockdown for six months (or longer!)? Can we really put things on hold for that long? It will be interesting to see the further adaptations and what succeeds for the brands, organisations and teams in this period without the live sport we all crave.