Fans, brands and referees: how digital is changing sport for us all


Live video streaming, social media sharing and vlogs are making global sports events such as the Olympic Games instantly accessible not only to fans, but to referees, coaches and corporate brands.

Tapping into fans' intense focus and passion during major tournaments is proving a successful strategy for raising brand awareness through the posting of sports-related videos to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine.

Research showed that official Olympics sponsors were mentioned over 180,000 times on social media during the Rio Games, with Samsung and Coca-Cola and Bridgestone the most prominent.

But most interesting is how brands are squeezing maximum value out of these 'mentions' during big sporting events when there is such potential to capitalise on the world's intense focus on the sporting drama.

More research into the impact of short social video adverts for global brand campaigns on social media suggests that at this summer's UEFA EURO 2016 tournament in France, brands made the biggest impact by focusing on reactive match day content, rather than through non-related TV ads.

Brands that sponsor individual players at Wimbledon, like Nike and adidas, use the success of their sponsored athletes to market their products further. Wimbledon partners that don’t have apparent relevance to sport, such as Lavazza coffee, are coming up with quirky images and videos.

Robinson’s drinks invited celebrities with large numbers of followers to hang out with them at SW19 and created portraits made of fruit to share through the stars’ Twitter handles, reaching much bigger audiences.

Meanwhile Jaguar drove up a Twitter storm when they filmed UK comedian Jimmy Carr chauffeuring Andy Murray to Wimbledon.

Social media platforms are helping to grab huge brand exposure during sporting events for firms that aren’t even official sponsors and haven’t spent a penny on promotion. They do this by capturing people's imagination and seizing on news events on and off the field of play.

When England faced Iceland at UEFA EURO 2016, for example, the British frozen food giant of the same name tweeted an image of a shopfront sign ‘England or Iceland’. "Unexpected result in the bagging area," they tweeted after Iceland's shock 2-1 victory. It was retweeted over 30,000 times and garnered publicity across the media - at a cost of virtually nil for the company itself.

The event hosts themselves are also engaging audiences through social media. The official Wimbledon channel posted video highlights on its Twitter feed with build-up and reaction to the big matches, as well as infographics, exclusive quotes and behind-the-scenes content. It also used Periscope for live streaming.

Live video technology for broadcast and other platforms is also proving innovative and invaluable for sports officials and referees.

EVS has supplied FIBA, the International Basketball Federation with its Xeebra video refereeing system for use at two of the three 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs), in Italy and in Serbia.

This system allows referees to make fast decisions during its Instant Replay process and resolve contentious actions on the court quickly. Referees and officials can review what happened by viewing any number of camera angles, pausing and rewinding.

There are so many changes happening rapidly as technology is enlisted to drive innovation in the world of sport. Recently Sport Industry Nextgen Leaders attended an Executive Leadership Workshop at Loughborough University London’s distinctive new development on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Institute for Sport Business, where they heard from a number of influential voices throughout sport, exploring the opportunities facing sports leaders of the future.

The way sport is governed, officiated, marketed and consumed is evolving rapidly. Whether it be in the corridors of power or in the average fan's living room, the digital revolution is irrevocably changing the face of sport.

This article was written by the GlobalSportsJobs Insight team. 

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