Why are people craving for sports content?

4 minute read

Cody Matechuk & Catherine Vaillancourt


Among the numerous sectors affected by the COVID 19, professional sports was no exception. However, the tv stations whose daily jobs are to broadcast sports content remained open but without anything to share. Some of them were able to find a way to thrive despite the unexpected situation and we should all learn from them. To anyone who wonders: “why is sports content so important at the moment? How did the audience react to the content blackout? How can the traditional channels adapt to the situation? “

Caught off-guard

Spring is always a very interesting period of the year for sports content especially for Montrealers when the Habs are in the Stanley Cups playoffs. This year was going to be particularly interesting with the upcoming summer Olympics and all the content related to the new sports to be included. Instead it was radio silence starting mid-march and nobody was prepared.

To compare. It’s a bit like if the grocers were left open but with no new food coming in, you quickly get tired of canned food right? Everyone makes their bread anyway. Perhaps that’s what inspired sports channels to find an innovative solution to the content failure. By innovative solution we are not talking about putting on air old hockey games from 30 years ago. We are talking about selling the bread made by customers. You see?

The solution and the paradox

After covering the shutdown, the sports media asked a lot of questions about the content expected by the public. As reported in our post on the rising demand for online video content, viewers were hungrier than ever for new content. Despite this, since mid-March, social media platforms have been losing ground, as the report in this article by Rival IQ reports. brands in which we explain in detail how the different platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all losing a little more users and engagement since the start of the health crisis. However, there are two interesting things to note regarding sport: the first is that it is the most popular sector after school and the second is that a small upturn has started since the beginning of the month of May.

Eureka or UGC

The genius way out of this content void is nothing new. The strategy used by some media was simply to put forward the content generated by its user. This kind of content is also referred to UGC. In our previous analogy it would be John’s homemade bread or Julia’s spaghetti sauce.

The example of ESPN’s Hours of Highlights reported by digiday.com is very interesting in this regard. By putting forward the content from its audience, the program registered a 30% growth when compiling data from all platforms. Moreover, on instagram, out of the 20 most popular posts, 18 are issued from user-generated content. It is still important to mention that this kind of content is not free but it still costs 20% less than the usual. The expenses may be reduced but the advertisers are also less excited to be associated with UGC. To go a bit further, an article from Ecoconsultancy mentions some of the best examples of UGC use and also cites a report that gives more and more importance to this type of content in the years to come.

In the end, with the sports cameras producing images very close to professional quality as well as the growing habit of athletes to film themselves to document their progression and remarkable feats, it is very realistic to believe that UGC will only be more present and more in-demand. The media will have to adapt and learn how to display those images and it seems that sports content is a prime sector to be the leader of this new reality. Despite the instantaneousness of social media, the traditional broadcasters still play an important role in putting the content in context. For us as a content producer really close to its communities, it is a very important concern but also a very interesting challenge.

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