By Nick Byrom, Rugby Players Association
You can’t underestimate the value of good content. It’s about designing, developing and distributing what your audience cares about. And with the presence of the digital market in the sports industry, the nature of content and how we’re delivering it to our audiences is now changing.
Just take a look at the statistics - 50% of iPad users are now using their devices to read magazines and an average of 20% of us are leaving traditional print to read online. With audiences increasingly seeking out online channels, many companies are moving their content online.
At the Rugby Players Association we’re well aware of the demand to keep up with the rapidly evolving digital market. Last Thursday, just prior to the start of the 2013 RBS Six Nations, we launched our new interactive rugby online magazine, 15. Around 80% of the content in 15 is interactive, offering readers quizzes, links to YouTube clips as well as all the live social media feeds of fans and partners.
We developed the magazine for a number of reasons. The RPA already has an advanced Player Development Programme which helps players achieve a work/life balance during their playing careers and in their transition into life after rugby. We also organise some great events including the RPA Computacenter Awards and have market leading sponsors. Our aim for 15 is to give all of these areas greater awareness whilst supporting the Rugby Player’s charity; Restart.
In addition to this, it’s also about reaching out to our audiences. We wanted to develop a more consumer focused insight into professional rugby and allow readers to see behind the scenes into the Player’s world. The magazine presents the perfect channel to allow us to speak to and engage with the whole rugby market including fans, players, sponsors and broadcasters, as well as creating new channels to work with our commercial partners to add value to their partnership. The digital market has broken down previous geographical boundaries, and with the RPA membership including elite players from 18 different rugby nations, the magazine will have a truly international appeal.
Our decision to develop an online platform for the magazine is a wider reflection of how digital is increasingly affecting the way we do our work. Our players are heavily engaged in digital media and we want to reflect that in our corporate and player activity. And as a result, we are now seeing a huge surge in sponsorship activation through digital media to compliment more traditional print advertising, ticket promotions and giveaways. Digital media is a great way to create and display “unique content” which is often the number one aspiration of a sponsor.
Overall, we have high hopes for the magazine. Our aim is that 15 will give us a great platform to broaden our role within rugby. It shows how the digital market is increasingly offering organisations in sport a unique opportunity to grow and develop their business. Ultimately, the online market will continue to influence the way we do business more and more in the future.