Sports content creators face different challenges and opportunities than creators in any other category on YouTube, and other digital platforms. These unique, sports-specific issues include: working with content with a short shelf life, keeping an audience through an off-season, and building an international as well as national audience. This often means that sports brands need to consistently create a wider variety of content – and more of it.
One sports brand that has mastered this challenge is The Sports Network (TSN), Canada’s sports leader on television, digital platforms, and social media. On a daily basis, TSN’s captive and passionate audience consumes its content at home, at work and on the go. Mark Silver, Head of Digital at TSN was the opening keynote speaker at ClickZ Live Toronto last week. The title of his speech was “Satisfying Your Audience: Lessons Learned from Canada’s Digital Sports Leader.”
TSN: The #1 Specialty Digital Network in Canada
Silver opened with some background about TSN. The official broadcaster of the Grey Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, TSN’s slate of live sports coverage includes: NHL, CFL, NFL, NBA, MLS, Season of Champions Curling, UEFA Euro 2016, MLB, Barclays Premier League, Golf’s Majors, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series, Canadian Tire Series, F1, Grand Slam Tennis, and NCAA March Madness events. The #1 specialty network in Canada, TSN recently announced plans to expand from two to five national feeds. To be branded TSN1, TSN2, TSN3, TSN4, and TSN5, all five TSN feeds will be available this fall.
TSN’s digital brands include the TSN.ca website, the TSN GO streaming service, the TSN Hockey app, BarDown, TSN GameTracker, TSN Klondike Play of the Year Showdown, and Ram 1v1. These digital brands demonstrate how TSN not only produces content for events, but also engages with its audience in between events and during the off-season.
Bardown: Sports Go Viral
BarDown is a new site from TSN which features a combination of viral, you-gotta-know-these sports stories, and fun, informative original stories and videos that draw from a variety of influences from around the web and the world of pop culture. Silver showed one of those videos, entitled “TSN Original: Out for a Rip!”
Now, going “Out for a Rip” means different things depending on where you're from, but in Tamworth, Ontario, where Canadian rapper, house painter, and canucklehead B. Rich (@brennyrich) grew up, going “out for a rip” basically meant lettin’ er’ all hang out, and rippin’ around in your truck, car, bike, boat, lawnmower... whatever...just as long as she goes!
TSN GameTracker: A Second Screen for Viewers
TSN GameTracker offers second-screen, real-time access to in-depth stats and detailed game and player analytics for every NHL match-up, including goals, shots, hits, and time on ice. It also has an interactive display that plots each stat on a virtual ice surface – where and when it happens. Unfortunately for me, Silver showed the game stats for the Montreal Canadians 3-1 win over my beloved Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Watching the game the night before had given me a headache, so I had to chuckle when he said that GameTracker’s exclusive multi-screen sponsor for the 2013 NHL playoffs had been Advil.
Silver then shared these results from last year’s playoffs: Time spent per visit to GameTracker was 7.1 minutes, 46 percent of traffic came from mobile devices, and consumption during the 2013 NHL playoffs was 1.7 million page views. Not bad, not bad at all for GameTracker’s rookie season.
TSN Klondike Play of the Year
The sixth annual TSN Klondike Play of the Year SHOWDOWN pitted the NHL regular season’s dirtiest dangles, most larcenous saves, and glorious goals against each other until one play was crowned champion. Klondike returned as lead sponsor to headline the popular SHOWDOWN for a second season, whichhas captured the attention of NHL fans across North America and around the world. Last year’s SHOWDOWN netted 1.5 million total votes from fans for 31 match-ups, 12 million total page views on the POY microsite, and 145 million total digital impressions for the sponsor across TSN’s digital assets. “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?”
Finally, Silver talked about 1v1, sponsored by Ram. It features two plays, which are going 1v1 for all the glory. It asks fans, “Which highlight has what it takes to withstand the 1v1 challenge?” The fans vote and the winner moves on. It’s that simple. Then, fans find out whether the reigning audience favorite can survive in a battle of the sweetest plays in the world of sports. A new challenger emerges daily, but only the strongest prevail to become champ.
It’s also worth noting that TSN Tube, TSN’s YouTube channel, has more than 9 million views and close to 26,000 subscribers. Not bad, not bad at all for Canada’s Sports Leader.