The way people consume media is changing almost before our eyes, with new ways to watch and new devices on which to do so. This multitude of consumption options and increasingly intense competition for viewers’ time is changing audience habits, too. As the media world grapples with these issues, so too must the sports industry. But these challenges aren’t the only obstacles facing the sports realm.
Before we discuss the challenges, it’s important to note that global sports are thriving. In the U.S., for example, 91% of the top 100 telecasts last year were sports programming, and sports drove more than 50% of the social TV conversations on Twitter. Headline stats aside, however, we are in the midst of a transformation in how people consume sports, underlined on a near-weekly basis by fresh announcements about how rights holders intend to deliver their content.
The advent of live streaming, the rise of over-the-top (OTT) platforms and even the ability for anyone—fan, athlete, rights holder or brand—to “go live” via major social media platforms is causing reverberations through sports and affecting sometimes long-held commercial models and decision-making processes.
Different rights holders—leagues, teams and events—are tackling this ongoing challenge in different ways. The most effective approach depends on a variety of factors, including existing and historic relationships with broadcasters, the need to generate significant revenues through media rights sales, the markets in which they operate, and current fan base and viewership size. Some are intent on distributing content wherever they can, with the aim of building an audience and attracting new fans by embracing emerging technologies and channels. Others are adopting a more cautious approach, protecting what in many cases are lucrative existing rights revenues and contracts. Simply put, there is no one-size fits all solution.
There are, though, a couple of fundamental questions that are relevant to all rights holders and to every brand involved in sponsoring an event, athlete, team or league. How, in a truly multimedia environment, can sponsorships be accurately measured to provide a true picture of the value generated for rights holders and brands? And, how can rights holders and brands demonstrate that any decline in linear broadcast audiences—as fragmentation occurs across the media landscape—doesn’t necessarily mean there has been a decrease in total audience, once online and social are factored in?
These are questions Nielsen Sports can help the industry to answer. Through months of development and drawing on years of experience and expertise as a trusted, credible and independent source, we have developed a unified measurement offering that brings together TV, social, online and print for the first time.
In particular, by unifying measurement of traditional media channels with social media valuation, we can provide an objective, holistic analysis of how a sponsorship is performing by looking at logo exposure and branded content. In an era of video content on social platforms, it’s key to understand how content should be measured across different social platforms. This, in turn, can provide vital information that helps maximize commercial opportunities for partner brands and inform how sponsors can be most effectively integrated into content.
Television, of course, continues to be a critical asset for sponsors looking to gain significant exposure through sponsorship investments—the Super Bowl, to cite but one example, recorded an average audience of 111.3 million viewers in the U.S. this year. Increasingly, however, rights holders and partner brands are looking beyond the live game broadcast to understand the value generated by the array of shoulder programming around events—everything from pre- and post-game coverage, to news conferences, highlights programs and news coverage.
As big believers in the power of sponsorship, and with our deep understanding of sports and the commercial pressures facing rights holders and sponsors, we’re primed to assist the industry tackle the intricacies within the modern media. By delivering a total picture of how value is generated through modern sports sponsorship, rights holders and brands across sport will be able to better demonstrate the value and impact of sponsorship across screens and platforms—and to make smarter decisions about where to put their time and focus.
For additional perspective, download our Unified Measurement: Defining a New Sponsorship Currency white paper.