HIGHLIGHTING THE BEST IN SPORT By Rob Shack, vice president, Reuters Sport
26 | TVBEUROPE MAY 2019
ports coverage is changing. More than ever before, we’re finding that leagues, clubs, associations and event organisers are taking control of their own content. Organisers can be Federations, Teams, Leagues, Tours, individual events, and the agencies that represent them. For the purposes of this article, let’s oversimplify and refer to them as “leagues” knowing that they self-identify and can be organised with great diversity. When we ask why leagues are producing so much more than before, we see a variety of interrelated factors driving this trend. When you look at them together, it’s hard to imagine how every league in the future wouldn’t have a unit that works and functions a lot like a multimedia sports newsroom.
BELOW ARE SOME OF THE CATALYSTS WE FOUND TO BE DRIVING THIS MOVEMENT: 1. Leagues spent millions to capitalise on social. Over the past 5-10 years every league has needed to invest in and develop a social strategy to capitalise on the popularity of sport on those platforms. Many developed content strategies that were social first but have realised that actually it’s not everything, and now seek to make the most of those investments through broader and more diverse distribution of that content via more traditional channels.
Leagues are plugging the holes created by the shrinkage of independent newsrooms. Sports desks are not immune to the pressures to reduce cost in the face of falling ad revenue. Leagues are stepping in to create coverage of their events to ensure fans can follow all their action, not just the events independent newsrooms can justify covering. Gaming revenue is growing. It turns out that gap is widening from both sides as integration gets tighter between leagues and the gambling industry. Leagues have greater incentive to serve that constituency, often with events that don’t warrant mainstream coverage but pull their weight through the gaming audience. Again, the leagues find themselves incentivised to create coverage themselves. Sports fans want more personal, authentic content, that only leagues can produce. Modern fans want to see athletes sharing personal stories, inside jokes, and having real conversations. They have an aversion to watching the traditional press conference, which too often feels staged and choreographed to be as inauthentic and ‘safe’ as possible. Event organisers have found themselves in a unique position to capture or create more fun, off the pitch content that gen z sports fans want, and news organisations can’t realistically produce at scale.
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