Keeping up with the Millennial and Gen-Z Tech-Savvy Sports Fan

The world is changing, and it’s changing so fast that many businesses, big and small, can hardly keep up. The same thing can be said about sports leagues and teams who are finding it increasingly hard to engage with their fans in today’s times.

The world is changing, and it’s changing so fast that many businesses, big and small, can hardly keep up. The same thing can be said about sports leagues and teams who are finding it increasingly hard to engage with their fans in today’s times.

It was not that long ago when broadcast and cable television dominated sports viewership. This made it somewhat easy for sports leagues to track their fans’ likes, dislikes, habits, and preferences since TV acted as a sort of “funnel” where most supporters gathered to consume their product. But those days are fast disappearing and TV’s monopoly on entertainment is now over.

Statistics show that traditional TV viewership is in decline among all demographics below the age of 49. Teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 are showing the greatest decrease, with their viewership dropping by a whopping 11% year after year. Sports also seems to take an extra hit as people between the ages of 18 to 24 show the least interest in it among all other entertainment shows.

From TV to Social Media

Despite these facts, there is still some hope. While traditional TV viewership may be declining, digital usage is on the rise. What’s more, 86% of Americans still consider themselves sports fans. Even more hopeful is the fact that the majority of these fans, especially those between the ages of 15 and 36, are willing to pay for quality sports content.

Among millennials, the most commonly used outlets from where they get their sports content are Facebook and YouTube, and a total of 92% of sports fans between the ages of 18 and 24 use social media as their main source for sports information.

What really draws millennials and the so-called Generation Z (those born after 2000) to these digital outlets is the convenience of having access to all sorts of highlights, bloopers, or behind-the-scenes perspectives that keep the entertainment going long after the game is over.

Enter Fanisko Engage

Sports teams have tried to get ahead of the game here by creating their own digital apps in an attempt at keeping their fans entertained. But while fans are consistently engaged with their teams, they are doing it in all sorts of digital places except within the team’s app.

What Fanisko Engage does here is to bring both the benefits of social media and traditional TV viewing into one platform. Fans no longer need to change from Facebook to YouTube to Instagram to Twitter and then back again since all they need is within this one-stop engagement platform. It also offers live play-by-play predictions, AR/VR games, engagement rewards, and personalized content to keep the fanbase “under the same roof.”

Fans are sure to respond to this sort of diversity as well as the convenience of having everything they need on one single platform. It increases their engagement time, it keeps them on the team’s page for longer, and because of the integrated analytics system, it helps the marketing department better understand their wants and needs for a better overall experience.

Fanisko offers a one-stop fan engagement platform, Fanisko|Engage, that helps sports and entertainment brands increase mobile fan retention, digital engagement and revenue opportunities. Today’s fans want more from their leagues and teams. We help leagues and teams embrace today’s “SmartFan” demand while maximizing fan potential for sponsors. Our mobile first, one-stop platform targeting millennials with a combination of unique content strategy, product offering including gaming, predictive and behavioral analytics and AR/VR technologies will target and engage the right audience.

An Inside Look at Manchester United’s Staggering Revenue Through Fan Engagement

With a breathtaking number of 659 million supporters, it is safe to say that the fanbase of EPL giant Manchester United (https://www.manutd.com/) is nothing short of colossal. Let me explain you the significance of this number – this is twice the population of the United States of America and almost half the population of China. Constituting to 8% of the world population, the fan base of  Premier league’s most successful could hold its own ground to become the fourth largest practiced religion after Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.

With a breathtaking number of 659 million supporters, it is safe to say that the fanbase of EPL giant Manchester United (https://www.manutd.com/) is nothing short of colossal. Let me explain you the significance of this number – this is twice the population of the United States of America and almost half the population of China. Constituting to 8% of the world population, the fan base of  Premier league’s most successful could hold its own ground to become the fourth largest practiced religion after Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.

The club is engaged in fan interaction with over 100 million followers digitally, with over 70 million followers on Facebook, 20 million on Instagram and 17 million on Twitter. Furthermore, they have over a million subscribers to their official app and close to 175,000 subscribers to their MUTV app and digital cable channel which is available to 165 countries.

Revenue Through Fan Engagement

It’s one thing to create a massive fan base but it’s a whole different game to metamorphose it into an effective revenue model and that’s exactly what Manchester United have been successful at. The revenue generated through fan engagement has contributed effectively helping the club to post a record-breaking overall revenue of  £581 million ($817 million) last year. Manchester United converts only 1% of its 659 million fans to MUTV subscription at an average of just £1 per month (the pricing will vary by country, taking fans’ respective purchasing power into account and is as low as around £1.60 per month in India to around £6.30 per month in Finland). This helps the club to generate nearly £80 million ($102 million)  per year in additional revenues apart from their primary revenue via broadcasting rights, brand endorsements, and sponsorships.

Now let’s see how this £80 million transcends on to the pitch. This money can fund the signing of as many as two to three top players with five-year contracts or could contribute to one-third of the club’s overall annual wage budget of the entire squad which, is around £232 million ($256 million). That’s in addition to the usual business Manchester United conducts during the transfer windows, which tends to be quite substantial already.Moving on to the most amusing factor about their fanbase is that close to 85% live in developing economies around the world, with more than half in Asia and only close to 7% of the fanbase turns up to their stadium through the course of their soccer season. This makes the club to keep fans engaged between matches through social media and their dedicated apps. The fans are provided with the right and robust content including gamification and mixed reality at the right time in as many as 27 languages, through various mediums. This creates more interaction, greater advertising and merchandising opportunities among its predominantly young fanbase.

In summary, Manchester United’s staggering revenue generated through fan engagement include the following:

  • Robust content
  • Gamification
  • Mixed Reality
  • Fan loyalty
  • Sponsorships
  • MUTV subscription

About Fanisko:

Fanisko (www.fanisko.com) offers a one-stop fan engagement platform, Fanisko|Engage, that helps sports and entertainment brands increase mobile fan retention, digital engagement and revenue opportunities. Today’s fans want more from their leagues and teams. We help leagues and teams embrace today’s “SmartFan” demand while maximizing fan potential for sponsors. Our mobile first, one-stop platform targeting millennials with a combination of unique content strategy, product offering including gaming, predictive and behavioral analytics and AR/VR technologies will target and engage the right audience.

So, if you are any sports association, league or a club planning to deliver an amazing mobile based fan engagement platform to build your fanbase, we would like to hear from you.

*Revenue and fan base statistics were taken from BBC, Independent, MUFC’s social media accounts, and official website respectively*

 

 

 

Things To Remember When Looking For A Gamification Service Provider!

Gamification has changed the face of sports marketing. Not only does it help you engage with your fans but also has the potential to generate revenue for your team even during off seasons and when the players are outside the stadium.

The many uses and subsequent benefits of gamification as mentioned in the previous articles are clearly evident. Gamification has changed the face of sports marketing. Not only does it help you engage with your fans but also has the potential to generate revenue for your team even during off seasons and when the players are outside the stadium. Gamification has not only improved the experience of fans but also stem the company’s positioning in the view of the audience.

Courtesy: Polygon

There are many ways to using gamification as a part of your strategy, as discussed in the previous articles in the e-book. The constantly evolving technology has in particular only made gamification more effective with time.

Gamification is all about execution!

Like you, other teams and sports marketers across the world also understand the various applications of gamification. This understanding has resulted in teams choosing to use gamification techniques. Unfortunately though, there are many among these teams who face challenges when trying to cash in on the benefits of gamification.

A look at the challenges faced by sports marketers!

There are varied type of challenges that sports marketers face when trying to use gamification techniques. A few challenges commonly faced by sports marketers are:-

  1. Lack of good content – As a marketer, not just a sports marketer, you need to always remember that content is the absolute king. If your content isn’t good enough or engaging enough then your fans are not going to be impressed. For example, if your trivia on the app of your team isn’t engaging then chances are your fans will not lap it up the way you expect them to.
  2. Lack of collaborative efforts – Partnering with other brands could actually help make the gamification efforts more effective. Imagine having rewards sponsored by reputed brands to further attract fans to be engaged with the app. Sports marketers lack in terms of understanding of this part with regards to gamification.
  3. Lack of innovation – Your fans need updates. Yes, updates! Take the creative route and present your fans with features that will have them hooked to your application regardless of it being On or Off season time. Failure to bring creativity to the table doesn’t really leave a lot of scope for gamification to ply in.

A little assistance is what Sports Marketers need…

When bogged by these challenges but with the aspiration to use gamification advance your team’s interests still intact, a sports marketer should take help from the experts. These issues and many others can easily be tackled with a tactful and resourceful partner. There are companies out there who specialize in helping companies set up and manage their fan engagement function. These are usually, technology based fan management & engagement platforms.

Having a partner of this specialty will not only help with gamification but will also open doors of possibilities for work on other things concerning the relationship between the team and its fans. But choosing a credible partner to work with in the capacity of a gamification partner isn’t an easy feat to achieve.

There are various factors that play a role each when you decide to partner with a fan engagement platform or a gamification service provider. These are factors which if ignored could, and have in the past, caused losses to a team when their marketing efforts didn’t reap benefits.

At this point, based on the assumption that you have already started to give some thoughts to the whole idea of adopting gamification as a part of your marketing machinery, we suggest you make your final call only after speaking to a gamification service provider.

To help you pick a partner who will help you make the most out of gamification and achieve marketing objectives you have set for your team, we suggest you keep in mind the following conditions and parameters. These will help you make the right decision and award yourself with better than ordinary results to say the least.

  1. Experience is critical – Go for an engagement platform that has experience, successfully achieving the type of objectives you have in mind. Choosing a partner that hasn’t had any good projects to its name in the past or doesn’t have experience in this domain could prove detrimental to the potential success of your marketing efforts.
  2. Not just any but experience with gamification – When you are looking for a partner that has done what you intend to see being done with your marketing through gamification, it is critical that you pick a platform that has experience with gamification. Only a partner with experience in handling gamification projects in the past will be of any help to you.
  3. Industry knowledge – Opt for a gamification service provider that is well aware of the technological as well as sports industry updates and developments. You need a partner who will be make only logical and sensible recommendations to you.
  4. Be careful with the pricing models – Among the companies that you review, go for one that has a variable pricing model in place of a high fixed fee cost model. Your requirements revolving around gamification could and would be highly dynamic in nature. With the changing nature of your requirements, a variable pricing model might be the best option to place bets on. This is because if one month you decide to go for fewer activities for your fans on your application and if the usage of gamification is lesser as compared to other months then you just might save your team a few bucks. A variable pricing model may also be priced based on the number of fans you wish to engage with for example. In such a case, the metrics could be well defined to measure success and to later on compare the achievements with the price initially quoted as per the model.
  5. Pick the best practices only – Now brands from varied fields have time and again undertaken activities that have stirred up controversy. You wouldn’t want to find yourself in a soup of this kind so it is best you hire a gamification service provider that is well versed with the best practices in your industry. So basically, you need a provider well versed with the sentiments of fans of the sporting industry and also practices deemed best in the same industry.

Eventually it all boils down to your hunch too. Pick a partner you feel will be fully committed to your cause.

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Building a Gamification Strategy

Gamification is an up and coming marketing trend that is gaining more attention in marketing, education and other industry sectors as an ideal way to create engagement with a consumer audience.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is an up and coming marketing trend that is gaining more attention in marketing, education and other industry sectors as an ideal way to create engagement with a consumer audience. With Game-like mechanics like points, countdowns, bonuses and difficulty levels, the socio-psychological concept of playing a game and possibly winning something stimulates the creative, playful and competitive spirit.

Courtesy: iMore

The goal of increasing the probability that a person repeats desired steps through games is achieved by using the scoring systems or ranking lists to reward its consumers with virtual items such as access to exclusive privileges, discounts, levels or prizes. And by using such game-like mechanics and dynamics for a non-game marketing purpose, gamification has shown promising results in increasing consumer engagement and/or influence consumer behaviour.

Why does Gamification work?

From a psychological perspective, the Prospect Theory introduced by Kahnemann and Tversky shows that small incentives enable people to take an extra effort to do things that they otherwise would not. The Prospect Theory is a behavioural economic theory that describes the way people choose probabilistic alternatives that involve risk — where the probabilities of outcomes are known. People take an effort because of their intrinsic motivation (brand commitment maybe too) in situations where they expect a reward.

In other words, people’s behaviours are being influenced by Gamification elements mentioned above, which can have a very small cost / investment for the brand. Research has shown that gamification not only increases customer commitment and loyalty, but also the motivation of the intended audience. If implemented correctly, it can have a high return on investment for companies (Dr. Städtgen, Gamification and Motivation, 2015).

How has gamification been effective in the sports industry?

From the days of gladiators fighting each other in the Colosseum, sports spectatorship has never be passive. Even today, sports teams and its players are given a celebrity status and watching them play is their way of interacting with them. The sports fans have always shown passionate involvement when watching their favourite sports persons or teams at their peak physical condition compete. To the fans, players are more than just celebrities – they are their idols, their heroes who inspire and motivate millions across the globe. Watching a sport means living the action, and fans become a part of it by rooting for their icons.

In today’s digital world, sports fans are no longer only at the receiving end of a monologue. Sports consumption has become even more interactive and captivating, thanks to the latest developments in technology. They are constantly interacting with the game through predictions, live updates, and post-match comments on second-screen platforms like Twitter or Facebook. They are engaged in every moment of the game, now more than ever, all thanks to the smartphone that lets sports fans experience rich, engrossing, immersive entertainment experiences on-the-go.

Streaming matches, checking and predicting scores, reading sports-related news and articles, or building a fantasy team – all of this is possible with a few taps on a screen. Given the popularity of instant digital access to sports, it is hardly surprising that Hotstar in India pays INR 300 crore to the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the mobile rights of a single IPL season!

The Road Ahead For Gamification in Sports…

Gamification with the direct intention of increasing engagement was first introduced by Fantasy Sports – a concept conceived in 1979 by American sportswriter Daniel Okrent that received great response from the audience over the last couple of decades. Seasonal games provided daily fantasy matches and became one of the biggest engagement tools for a sports fan. As part of the fantasy game, fans would memorise individual players’ statistics and analyse the upcoming fixture list to lock their teams before the match.

Lately however, fans began turning away from fantasy leagues due to lack of time and the fact that the teams would have to locked in an hour before the match – thereby putting an end to the engagement well in advance of the match. This passive aspect of fantasy sports has fans yearning for a real-time format more accessible and exciting.

With the growing use of smartphones, it didn’t take long for live sports gaming to gather momentum in the sports fan engagement market. Not only did live sports gaming attract the Fantasy sports fan base, but also the casual fans – a demographic that is far greater. Live Sports Gaming as the name suggests, is based on one of the most common behaviours observed in a sports fan’s conversation during a live sports event – Predictions.

The sheer thrill in predicting how a sports match unfolds on the field and finding glory in the success of it is what makes live sports gamification a more realistic experience. It allows users to get involved in the game from the blow of the whistle or the sound of the buzzer and remain engaged in the match till the very end. It gives the fans the chance to connect with one another and share their passion for sports across real and virtual worlds. The inclusion of chat forums, pre-match quizzes and live match prediction games allows for a sports interaction experience that is far more engrossing and riveting than any other medium.

5 Things to keep in mind when incorporating gamification into the marketing strategy

With clear evidence that the future of sports consumption lies in fans engaging digitally and sharing their insights, predictions, and analysis in real time, here are 5 key things to keep in mind when incorporating gamification into a marketing strategy.

  1. Know your Fan Base. To determine what type of game might appeal to your customers, you must first and foremost understand your target audience. Get this wrong and you may not engage them correctly to get the level of engagement you’re seeking. A young 25 year old fan would have different preferences to the type of gameplay as a 40 year-old. If a quiz format is to be used, one must consider the audience’s age so that relevant questions can be included.
  2. Research is Important. Before launching your own game, see what other games have been created for consumers. See how they work, how and what type of rewards they yield. The best gamification strategies come from evaluating what others have done to identify best practices that would fit your marketing objectives. Social sharing, scoring and rewards are the kind of games that tend to do well in the sports environment.
  3. Choose your incentives wisely. Decide what incentive you want to offer. It could be tickets to a sporting event, discounts towards merchandise, promotional coupons or unlocking access to exclusive content. The right type of incentives being offered need to be chosen in order to make the gamification work with right type of audience.
  4. Keep it Simple. Making the game too complex is only going to result in losing the interest of your audience. Gamification only works if your game is able to capture their attention quickly or else they will abandon it. Build your game assuming your audience has a short attention span and is easily distracted. This will help you design the gameplay to be relatively short.
  5. Have clear goals. Have a clear objective in place that you want the gamification strategy to help ultimately achieve. Without a goal, how can you be sure your gamification strategy is worth it? It also helps to keep monitoring the progress of the game to determine if your strategy is bringing you closer to achieving your objective. If not, revisit the design of your game to make the necessary changes.

Gamification has gathered momentum in popularity lately only because it appeals to the audiences on a deeper psychological level than just a one sided communication such as an advertisement. Implement these key principles into your gamification strategy and you’re guaranteed to capture the sports fan’s attention.  

Gamification – The Competition

The basic premise of gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing to non-game scenarios as a strategy to accelerate business performance through increased customer engagement and influence customer behavior.

As digital systems become more seamlessly integrated into our daily activities, the latest marketing trend of gamification encourages more engagement from the intended target audience. The basic premise of gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing to non-game scenarios as a strategy to accelerate business performance through increased customer engagement and influence customer behaviour.

Pic courtesy: Wacom

Although gamification has many potential applications, as one would do with other business strategies, gamification in the sports industry needs to adopt a targeted approach in its design and implementation to maximize returns. Launching the right type of game for the right type of sports fans in a controlled environment with well-defined workflows, are measurable and are willingly embraced.

We’ve all heard of the fantasy sports teams and the leagues that run in tandem with sporting tournaments. It is not uncommon for many sports personalities and franchises to deploy gamification strategies such as fantasy leagues as part of their higher level fan engagement activities. Gamification serves to give the sports fans an immersive fan experience which helps to build brand loyalty. It is also a good way to provide the fans with incentives which help influence customer behaviour. If the sports teams want customers to buy their merchandise or tickets to their live matches, one could leverage gamification to provide incentives as they make purchases.

Examples of gamification in the sports world

The popularity of gamification in sport is not unique to just one or two sports. With over 3.2 million players are registered on the official Barclays Premier League Fantasy Football game, being part of the fantasy league has become a huge part of the culture of being a ‘football’ fan. In the world of motorsport, as a partner of McLaren, Hilton offers the Honors Fantasy Racing challenge in Formula 1 racing, which invites fans to select four drivers, two constructors, and an engine manufacturer, and their ‘team’ is rewarded in points from actual performances at a Grand Prix weekend.

Across the globe, the Indian Premier League leveraged a fantasy cricket team to increase engagement. Fans had to create a virtual team of real cricket players and score points depending on how your chosen players perform in real life matches. To win a tournament, fans had to work towards attaining the maximum points and the No. 1 rank on the leaderboard at the end of the season.

So are you looking to add gamification to your fan engagement strategy?

Here are 5 inspiring gamification ideas to add to your marketing strategy…

  1. Trivia. A trivia quiz is one of the easiest ways to add a layer of gamification if you are new to the concept. The competitive element can be added by implementing points, a timer and leaderboards into your quizzes that enhance the experience. Trivia quizzes offers a great deal of flexibility in the frequency at which you engage with your target audience. You can choose to run your quiz daily at a specific time of the day or it can be kept open for longer time period.
  2. Gamified Predictions. Fans enjoy the thrill of predicting how a sports match unfolds on the field before or during a live game. And by communicating their predictions with other fans live through chats, messaging boards, etc, it gives the fans the chance to connect with one another and share their passion for sports across real and virtual worlds. And the joy they experience when their prediction is right is second to none!
  3. Fan-Driven Fantasy Sports. Fantasy sports have been around since 1979. It’s a tried and tested model that is vouched for by many success stories over the years. But how could you improve on this? By giving your fans more control in the gamification process! Unlike the traditional model, why not allow users to create free challenges amongst friends and other sports fans at any point during the sporting tournament. This way you are able to captivate both the fantasy player who plays regularly as well as the casual player who hasn’t been involved in fantasy sports before.
  4. Virtual Currency. Gamification serves no purpose if there is no reward for the time and effort you expect the fan to put into the game. Incentivising the fan by offering a virtual currency as a reward in the game gives the audience the feeling of achievement without the business spending any real money on it. There’ always the option of earning extra revenue from selling virtual currency to fans for money. This virtual currency can be spent in-game to upgrade teams or buy new players, for instance.
  5. Leaderboards. Displaying a list of people to recognize publicly who has earned the most achievements provides some extra motivation for people to keep participating and to do their best to stay near the top of the standings. What is particularly useful about leaderboards in gamification is that it can be applied to any type of games to give it the competitive element. The desire to appear on the leaderboards drives players to earn more achievements, in turn fuelling deep engagement.

While there are many different gamification models applicable to the sports industry, the 5 ideas listed above are what we believe the ideal entry points into gamification if you are new to it. And the beauty of it is, the 5 concepts can co-exist into one gamification model so you are free to mix and match to what best suits your needs.