The Year Of Sports Video

The Year Of Sports Video

  by ,   Feb 19, 2014, 12:37 PM

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Once every four years, it arrives: the Year of Sports Video.  A year when the Super Bowl, World Cup and the Olympics all fall in the first seven months of the year.  These tentpole sports video events, while each considered iconic on its own, share the 2014 main stage and may in some cases share budgets, given both timing and resource alignment.
As we look forward to this major year in sports video, taking a look back at the last time these worlds collided in 2010 provides a great reference point. In December 2010, comScore reported that 73.7 million people consumed online video, with the average person having watched approximately 182 online videos per month.  At that time, YouTube was said to be largely driving this phenomenon, with its audience consuming hundreds of millions of video views per day.Fast-forward to 2014: comScore recently reported that 86% of the U.S. now consumes online video each month.  That number is staggering when you consider that over 188 million Americans consumed online video in December of 2013 – a growth of over a million people in just four years.

Further, despite this year’s significantly lopsided contest,  the Super Bowl, an event not available through digital platforms in 2010, was watched by an average audience of 528,000 viewers per minute, making it the most watched live stream ever for a single sports event.  Fox Sports GO, which housed such live streaming, was the #1 most downloaded app for iPhones and iPads on Super Bowl Sunday and #2 most downloaded iPad app overall.  So, what does this all mean for this year of sports video? What are the main challenges the digital portion of this industry will face in 2014?

  1. Are media dollars, otherwise earmarked for other platforms, shifting quickly enough to digital video to reflect the vast scale and viewership?
  2. Has the digital video industry innovated ad formats to a point where we can create immersive brand experiences, beyond standard :15s and :30s and basic product placement?
  3. Will success measurement remain fragmented, or will a true standard emerge to hold the market accountable?
  4. Is this growth considered companion viewership?  Or, is this alternative viewership no longer being captured by TV?

These are not new questions for an industry that, while rapidly evolving, still lacks sophistication and thus, still has many CMO-level skeptics.  Kantar’s recent report showing that only 24% of national brands are using digital video to market to consumers is concrete evidence of a slowed industry-wide adoption.

To facilitate the kind of growth that will keep pace with consumption and increased supply, the industry will need to leverage  “video-neutral” buying strategies.  Only those marketers that wholly embrace the value of viewership regardless of device (52” TV, desktop, mobile or otherwise) and can create more tangibility from this medium (data or otherwise) will continue as industry leaders.

Much as with many other advertising media, it’s incumbent on the sports industry to lead by example, given the scale that will always exist in this passionate market segment. Companies need to integrate sales teams, innovate to push new ad formats forward, and look for measurement standardization even when the results are unfavorable.  They must also accept that while TV is still the dominant player, times are rapidly changing. The focus needs to be on digital right here and right now.

Once every four years, it arrives: the Year of Sports Video. While further along than in 2010 in terms of adoption, value proposition and scale, digital video still remains a TV amplifier or complement to a broader marketing initiative — not even close, on multiple levels, to the main event.

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