Events are the bedrock of the sports industry. They are the ultimate product, providing the unique entertainment and action that capitvates billions around the world. But they are also just a part of what sports deliver.
Action from sports events alone is relatively limited. If we look the English Premier League and the NFL, for instance – two of the most commercially successful leagues in the world - this is what we see: Liverpool, who last year reached three finals on top of their league matches, played less than 100 hours of competitive football across more than 9 months last season. In the NFL, teams play only 17-21 games across 6 months, depending on their success. And yet the noise around teams in these leagues is every day of every year.
Put simply, there is a hunger for engagement in sport that goes far beyond the events themselves. How can this be sustained? One effective option is by making the seemingly ‘ordinary’, extraordinary. And this is something that American sports seem to excel in over their international counterparts.
A recent example of this came with the announcements of the upcoming fixtures for teams in these two leagues. While all the Premier League teams were certainly creative in their announcement of fixtures, with bold visuals and very clear information, few went above and beyond to make them truly extraordinary.
Manchester City, the Premier League champions of last season, had just over 6,000 likes for their Tweet announcing the calendar. Liverpool’s registered 8,500 likes for their initial announcement Tweet, while the club also did a live show which saw around 54,000 viewers. By contrast, the announcement of the schedule in the NFL is now something of a tradition. The Los Angeles Chargers, a team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season, produced an anime-style schedule video which made subtle jabs at other teams. The result? More than 5.5 million views and 225,000 likes on Twitter alone, and extensive media coverage.
Making the ordinarily extraordinary is not easy of course. It requires preparation, creativity and a thorough understanding of your audience. But it is not impossible, and does not need to require extensive resources. Think of all those moments when a press release is planned, and consider how they could be made extraordinary – new levels of engagement, interest and commercial opportunities will follow.