What Sports Organisations can Learn From the Consumer Behavioural Shifts of Media Consumption Caused by COVID-19, for Now and Tomorrow

Daniel Brown

Like all of us, isolation is changing habits. It’s interesting, watching different groups and sectors respond to the ‘new norm’. I was fascinated recently by a study on media consumption by generation: (https://www.visualcapitalist.com/media-consumption-covid-19/).  

It encouraged me to assess whether it was accurate for a Gen X like myself (please no comments about my age, it is a sore subject having just had another birthday in the last week) and I agree, it does represent my consumption habits in the last few weeks as I shape a home routine for every day, rather than the occasional days a week I normally worked from home. Previously, days working from home revolved around just sitting down and getting on with it, as it was a time for concentration without distraction. Now an everyday routine, (what day is it anyway?) I need more structure, things to look forward to and importantly to break up the day. 

This media consumption report got me thinking about how I have substantially started to use the mobile app from the football team that I support. I’ve always had it on my phone, but my use was very limited – primarily only on the most boring of train journeys. The reason for this being what I think is a good step in providing fan engagement when there is little fan engagement available. Using their App, they’ve been able to update me with the little wins and micro moments that create euphoria and good feelings. 

 

Engaging fans by streaming historical moments for the club, with fans voting on which classic game they wish to watch. Never before have I voted on anything like this, but I look forward to the next opportunity although I think the millennials are getting their way with how current the moments are. I find myself joining in with quizzes and watching the increased number of player past and present interviews. This interaction reinforces that we all want to feel good during these challenging times, and I know watching certain matches will allow me to relive the moment and the associated sense of joy. 

Visual Capitalist’s media consumption article is a great reference point for sports teams and entertainment companies to utilise and help deliver fan engagement strategies at a time when there are no new games or concerts. It points to the diversity of channels required, the varying types of content needed and the true need to understand your audience in order to best engage. Collectively, the world seems in agreement that things won’t go back to how they were. Be it employers being more flexible about employees working from home, behind closed doors sport for a period of time or the way in which we interact socially, it is fair to assume that the shift in media consumption methodologies seen here will have a lasting effect.  

I spend a good portion of work hours helping clubs and venues to understand their fans and customers; creating personas, understanding where data needs exist and creating digital strategies to better target the individual. What I stress is that these are a moment in time analysis – fan behaviours are ever-evolving as does the world around them and there is no better example of this than COVID-19. 

Creating captivating media assets across channels is key to maintaining engagement and will encourage consumption across the generations whilst building brand equity, a chance to collect appropriate fan engagement data, understand fan behaviour to be utilised for effective messaging now and in the future, and quite simply provide a little bit of relief and joy at a time when we all need it.  

One final point on the Boomers... The digital consumption, based on this piece of research, is still relatively low but does show an increase. Engagement is often thought of as digital, and for boomers, email consumption is still high, which can increase digital media consumption through accurate targeting.  However, one of the best examples of pure and simple engagement are those Clubs who are contacting season ticket holders to make sure they are well, talking through the latest updates and just simply behaving like a team community.  Engagement can often be the simplest of gestures. 

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