Last week, I took a look at several of Fenway Sports Management’s YouTube channels and concluded: “What’s broken can be fixed.” This week, I’ll outline some of the latest best practices that the sports marketing agency can use to build a more loyal and engaged audience on YouTube.
To be fair, FSM’s YouTube channels aren’t as bad as last year’s Boston Red Sox. But, the sports marketing agency still needs to do a number of things to take its performance on YouTube to the next level. So, FSM may want to borrow yet another one of this year’s unofficial Red Sox marketing slogans, “162 Chances to Restore the Faith.’’
For sports content, timeliness is crucial – in terms of content creation, publishing, and optimization. Since sports video content is often event-focused, sports viewers search for the latest clips, immediate reactions, and breaking sports news around a particular event.
So, what does this mean for FSM as a sports creator? For one thing, it means that content should be uploaded as close to an event as possible – even during the event itself!
In addition to uploading content quickly, event-based videos mean that the window to capture audience from search queries is short. So, it is even more important that the sports marketing agency’s videos are optimized - in terms of metadata and thumbnails – at the time of upload.
For example, check out the “Top 5 Plays of the Night: NBA Finals Game 5.”
The sports content available to sports fans is abundant and diverse. So, even once they find FSM’s videos and click to view them (intrigued by a stellar thumbnail!), they can easily switch to another channel to find the sports content they want. It’s up to FSM, as the sports creator, to keep its audience engaged and make sure its content is presented in an easily navigable manner.
It’s important to show what the viewer is looking for as soon as possible during the sports marketing agency’s videos. Any introduction, lengthy branding, or extraneous game footage during the video lead-in can lead to a quick loss of viewers – before they even have a chance to see what they came for.
For example, check out “‘Supernatural’ save by Jonathan Quick? 3/21/11.”
Luckily for FSM, sports fans tend to be engaged, passionate, and enthusiastic. And yet, the sports marketing agency still has to work hard at developing an effective programming strategy to keep viewership of its channels up, and its audiences engaged.
Sports events can be characterized as either planned or unplanned events. Planned events include things like games or drafts that are on the calendar for months in advance, while unplanned events revolve around quickly breaking news.
For large events that generate traffic months in advance, such as the World Series or the Football League Cup, consider creating teaser videos to generate interest early on. For breaking news events, FSM should create content specifically around these events so that it can take advantage of audience interest.
For example, check out “Tiger Woods wins the 2012 AT&T National, Final Round Highlights.”
Programming for Off-Season
Sports are often seasonal, but that doesn’t mean FSM’s YouTube sports channels should be seasonal, too! It’s important to keep the sports marketing agency’s channels active – even during the off-season – in order to maintain viewership and audience interest all year round.
During the season, when viewership is at its peak, make sure the audience is aware that FSM will also be offering compelling content throughout the off-season. Then, the sports marketing agency can either produce content during the season specifically designed for the off-season, or it can use archived content in new, creative ways. During the off-season, FSM can incorporate drafts, trades, transfers, interviews, Truck Day, and spring training into its programming strategy.
The sports marketing agency can also capture comedic content during an off-season tour. For example, check out “Chelsea FC - US Tour 2012: The Goalkeepers.”
A Global Phenomenon
Sports are an international phenomenon, and YouTube is an international platform. While the core fan bases of many sports exist in specific countries, the reach of FSM’s videos can extend much further. Begin by investigating YouTube Analytics in order to determine where the sports marketing agency’s traffic originates.
If FSM’s primary traffic sources include different countries and various videos have experienced spikes in views from specific countries, explore why this may have occurred. In other words, if Koji Uehara or Junichi Tazawa pitches a scoreless inning, then Red Sox fans in Japan are more likely to discover, watch, and share a video clip featuring that.
FSM can actively incorporate these viewers into its fanbase and create content that is relevant and tailored specifically for them using captions, playlists for different languages, or separate channels for multiple languages.
For example, check out this English playlist for AC Milan.
FSM Can’t ‘Wait Till Next Year’
FSM can’t afford to “wait till next year” before starting to take its performance on YouTube to the next level.
As eMarketer observed last week, “While 60% of US internet users surveyed told AYTM Market Research that they still had a cable TV subscription in May 2013, another 23% said they had a subscription in the past, but not any longer.”
At the same time, eMarketer noted, “AYTM found that 29% of US internet users surveyed watched YouTube videos at least daily in May, and more than half of respondents did so more than once a week.”
And eMarketer concluded, “These trends are all pointing in the same direction: Traditional TV viewing is on the wane, and digital video is rising fast.”
So, just as the Boston Red Sox didn’t wait until the off-season in 2012 to complete a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, FSM shouldn’t wait until the off-season in 2013 to build a more loyal and engaged audience on YouTube.
As Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington said last August, “We recognized that we are not who we want to be right now ... We felt like in order to be the team that we wanted to be on the field we needed to make more than cosmetic changes.”