sports postponed

With no real end of the Coronavirus, aka Covid-19 in sight, how will companies and brands reach sports fans on their couches, when so much of their regular advertisements are typically tied up in live sports? Next Generation AI-powered consumer and marketing intelligence reveals all, including some options for brands to pursue.

Shifting Funds and an Opportunity for Digital Marketing

The world is on lock down. With the U.S. at the beginning of its time indoors, sports (of every variety) have been canceled. And so has its advertising.

At live games, and on televised events everything from beer to Big Macs, electronics to Advil is advertised. Without sports to market around, we can expect to see a real shift towards digital advertising over legacy media.

Sports fans are taking to social media to explore life outside of the old pigskin. In one hilarious article, tweets and daily posts show how much sports matter to fans’ lives:

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Or this one:

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And they’re finding their beloved pastime in everything around them:

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And as part of this, Facebook, which aired its first ever Superbowl ad this year, is set to win big over the next few weeks.  The Motley Fool expects an influx of advertising there very soon:

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And it makes sense, as sports fanatics of all kinds are already cyber connecting over this social media platform during their hiatus from the outdoors. This gives companies and brands a perfect opportunity to appeal to the 2.9 billion active monthly users populating Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. And with 8 million businesses using Facebook to reach consumers, it is a wise place to invest advertising dollars and reach those passionate, and desperate, sports fans.

It also may be time to consider eSports.

Consumers’ eSports Appetite

As Sports fans connect online, another opportunity to watch is the world of eSports. The rise of online game play is no secret, but with Coronavirus, more people are flocking to these online leagues, as they’re hungry for some betting action. eSports hasn’t been immune to the impact of Coronavirus, but while live sports are canceled until further notice, eSports and the League of Legends Pro League are starting back up.

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This could be the next big opportunity for digital marketing. And market intelligence tells us precisely how the conversation around this segment is growing, with eSports related themes capturing more than 50% of fans’ mentions:

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One of the leading stories in the conversation cluster above is an article titled, Massive Online Audiences, Stunning Engagement. Will More Brands Discover Esports?  They certainly should!

eSports are Everything

In studies, eSports consumers are all-in fans. They eat, sleep, watch, and play these sports. Spending 50% of their free time playing, eSports fans connect emotionally with these online games. And this is great news, as research suggests consumers form opinions on brands based on their emotional connections with them: “70 per cent of consumers had a positive view of the brands that were aligned to the teams they support.”

Chris Derrick, CEO of Order and winner of the Overwatch competition at the IEM Sydney, had this to say about potential of Esports for advertising:

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Using advanced market research, brands are able to track this trend and find opportunities for this newly captive audience. But brands aren’t limited to eSports – there are also streaming options to consider.

Advertising to Sports Fans via Streaming

Streaming Companies are aware of how itchy sports fans are, and they are ready to scratch that itch. Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ saw this opportunity and have answered the call by supplying the demand for sports-themed movies and documentaries.

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Netflix, is bringing a whole new meaning to the popular slogan ‘Netflix and Chill.’ With the uptick in Netflix downloads, The Motley Fool speaks glowingly of Netflix’ growth:

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And it is the same in Italy and Spain where usage has risen 100% in Italy and 50% in Spain, with the good old US of A expected to follow suit as more people are working and entertaining from home.

The same rise in streaming can be expected with Hulu. Especially since it is joined by Disney+, FX and ESPN, and it also offers Live TV. This mega streaming company may offer the best for your marketing dollar, as they offer streaming service with or without ads. And as of mid-2019 Hulu had 25 million subscribers, and it’s growing:

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And the mentions reflect this growth:

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Though consumer mentions in these troubled times aren’t all about eSports, streaming or social media memes – there’s also a significant percentage of people focused on how to help others. And that could be the biggest “in” that advertisers are presented with for every type of fan left in the lurch.

Charity for the Sports Fan Win

Getting more attention as a brand could be just as simple as doing charitable work.

Take Ryan Reynolds, a quick search of Covid19 and his name pops up as KOL (Key Opinion Leader). He and Blake Lively donated 1 million to food banks in the fight against Coronavirusa, then took to Twitter and encouraged others to donate as well.

In another generous act, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, made a commitment to pay all arena workers inside the American Airlines Center.

These selfless acts have grabbed the attention of all major news networks as well as social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, pushing Ryan Reynolds and the Maverick brand to the forefront of people’s minds. As warmhearted as this is, it’s also good business:

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As we’ve mentioned before, consumers are more likely to support brands who share their own values. And market research agrees – we can see significant conversation happening around charity work associated with Covid19 and areas of need, such as blood donors.

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Overall, there is no reason for advertisers to despair. Sports consumers are still waiting for your products and services. The only difference is, instead of in stadiums or watching live games, they are on their couch, seeking something to pass the time. This means your company could literally be at their fingertips as they scroll their social media feed, play Esports or select something to watch on Hulu – or pause to read about the latest good deed. To find out how to reach more of your consumers, sporty or otherwise, reach out for more information or a demo!