Op-Ed: Making the most of mobile video

07 Apr 2020

By: Sport Industry Group

As sporting events are put on hold, the demand for content continues – with viewing options beyond streaming matches popping up across the digital media landscape. James Brighton, Partnerships Director, PM Connect, reflects on the ways brands and rights holders can maximise the opportunities opened up by mobile video now and in the future.

As audiences face more time at home than ever before, the appetite for content is increasing - just as the new pipeline dries up, with major sporting events cancelled or postponed. 

Innovators such as the US’s NFL and the NBA have adapted by removing paywalls for their subscription services – offering fans the chance to watch old games.  

Proving the appetite for non-live content, future-facing brands can go a step further by looking to mobile-specific opportunities. 

A quarter of video streaming is already taking place via mobile. In times such as these, we expect more than ever to be able live, work and play in the mobile environment, whether that is communicating with our friends, booking our transport, or tuning into our favourite leagues and players – even in the absence of new live content.  

The mobile-specific subscription sites we have designed for the likes of the NBA and World Wrestling Entertainment, have seen a 25 to 30% spike in sign-ups in the last weeks, since social distancing measures have been put in place – reflecting similar surges during school breaks and bank holidays. As people become home-bound, there is a higher demand for easy to access, bite-sized mobile entertainment, with the amount of ‘sustained usage’– people returning day after day – also growing by 5 to 10%. 

Beyond streaming of events, non-live highlights packages, video analysis, and personalised libraries of content focusing on a single team or player are just a few of the options that can cater to fan hunger for everything and everything about their favourite player. 

Whilst matches are on hold, for example, a Premier League mobile site is able to host a range of bite-sized, uber-specific content, from press briefing footage, online interviews with players and managers to team-specific stats and highlights packages. 

A long-term opportunity lies, therefore, in expanding the range of content available – catering to specific fan needs and a range of different audience segments – and adapting the way in which viewers access content, providing payment options that blend seamlessly into the mobile ecosystem.
Sports fans’ hunger for a direct connection with their favourite teams manifests itself in the growing – almost insatiable – appetite for social media content, with 22% of internet users saying that following sports events is one of their main reasons for using social networks. From changing-room live-streams to lighthearted, TikTok or Snapchat-esque moments, mobile content sites open up the potential for this wider range of content, at a premium branded level. 

Take WWE, where the Superstar culture is as important to as what happens in the ring, and fans experiences after dictated by their allegiance to an individual. The sports entertainment giant’s mobile only subscription site has enjoyed success by allowing fans to search by character – giving them a real behind-the-scenes feel to their content and enabling the fans to connect on a more personal level with their favourite Superstar. 

Likewise Arsenal’s Arsenal Player regularly provide exclusive Access All Areas feature after games and England Rugby uses its ERTV moniker on the team’s socials, giving behind the scenes content and exclusive interview features from players. What’s more - these additional content streams are proven to help drive brands’ TV revenue, not cannibalise it, and are intrinsically mobile driven in terms of usage – vital for when all returns to normal.

To support mobile-first viewing, it is critical that sports brands also consider the best payment mechanisms to commercialise this content. To support the impulse nature of the purchases, the less friction the better – with clunky sign-up processes and card detail entry a big barrier to capitalising on consumer interest, online merchants lose billions every year due to transactions being abandoned. 

Solutions do exist, enabling consumers to subscribe to a product in a couple of clicks. Direct Carrier Billing for example, where the user links an account directly to their phone bill, delivers a conversion rate eight times that of credit card and the likes of Spotify and Netflix have been using this as a payment option for their core products in recent times

In today’s content-consumed world, it is fans who drive the market. The current events emphasise the appetite for a wide range of non-live content – proving the power of mobile for brands looking to diversify.