Sports Leagues Grapple With Tough Marketing Choice: Media Viewership or Consumer Relationships?

As one of the most prevalent forms of media consumption worldwide, national sports leagues are constantly evolving their media strategies to maintain widespread interest. 

Right now, we are seeing a huge shift in the direction of streaming services, bringing this form of entertainment into the sports conversation for multiple reasons.

A recent article by The Hollywood Reporter details this surfacing dilemma and how leagues are approaching this promising media outlet.

“For the major U.S. sports leagues, changing viewer habits and lucrative TV deals are giving way to a happy dilemma: Do they forge a direct relationship with fans? Or do they lean on their media partners to help them win the streaming wars? Increasingly, the answer seems to be both.

David Jurenka, senior vp of NFL Media, says the league views the service as an “innovation vehicle,” one that will evolve over time. The NFL’s effort to try and thread the needle (i.e., keep TV partners happy but build a DTC product fans will love) exemplifies the situation all of the major leagues find themselves in, with Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer pursuing slightly different solutions to that challenge.

A big reason leagues want that direct relationship is access to the fans and the ability to understand their consumption habits and what they are looking for. The leagues have millions of people watching on TV but are “really having no idea who those people are,” says Pete Giorgio, a sports consulting leader at Deloitte. “What they are finding is that, in the world we live in today, it is no longer OK for people to just watch your content; you need to build a relationship with those folks.” Adds NFL exec Jurenka, “Fan behavior or customer behavior is shifting to the direct-to-consumer model, so we are trying to meet fans where they are there.”

Read the rest of this article here. 

Sports teams and players are in a unique position– we feel attached to our teams and inspired by them from a distance, but we also feel compelled to close this gap and foster a connection with the players we love.

In this way, sports teams are more than just a group of talented athletes. They are a business venture, selling their products and services to consumers just like any company does.

This article highlights the two different paths that these sports leagues can embark on, and it is a dilemma that all growing businesses will have to face at some point. 

Essentially, sports leagues are asking themselves this question: do we continue to rely on media outlets to generate viewers, or should we shift our focus to accommodate the growing interest in direct consumer relationships?

If you ask most business owners, the answer here is simple. Focusing on fostering relationships between supporters and players will deliver more viewers and grow the existing fanbase in the long run. 

Media viewership is important, but the fans who feel connected to their teams will watch anything and everything involving their favorite players. Placing emphasis on consumers will always give your business better results, and the same rings true for sports leagues currently weighing these important media decisions. 

Give yourself and your business more time to foster these important client relationships by automating your lead flow with CloudKennect and grow your fanbase today.

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