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Creating A United Vision : League And Team Digital Strategy Programs

Digital transformation has enabled sports organizations to expand their potential audiences, create high quality content-driven experiences, and scale the production and reach of their engagements.  Teams and leagues of all sizes now utilize suites of digital tools and platforms that lead to international followings, while uncovering new monetization channels.  Of course this is easier said than done when it comes to developing a sustainable presence across multiple channels, growing that attention, and eventually achieving brand ubiquity.  

One challenge that emerges in league to team relationships, in particular, is the inter-competition between the two entities for the same share of attention.  Many leagues permit their individual franchises to develop their own digital platforms and content, experiences that often overlap with the platforms and content managed by the league itself.  An example of this is the use of gamification in the Premier League.  The league provides a sophisticated fantasy gaming platform for fans to use.  Meanwhile, individual teams also offer their own fantasy gaming experiences, such as Predictors or Man of the Match contests.  What we see in these examples are two products that have a similar overlap in audience, potentially siphoning off users from one another instead of delivering even more value through a shared experience.  

Resetting the relationship between teams and league digital channels/platforms can be the solution to achieve higher engagement and monetization.  The key is to develop a comprehensive digital strategy and digital product roadmaps that accounts for all teams and league channels/platforms together, and define the value each should contribute to the collective fan experience.  

Inputs for a Future-Forward Digital Strategy     

“It’s not the will to win that matters - everyone has that.  It’s the will to prepare to win that matters - Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant

Whether making choices based solely on capturing attention for jumping on a new trend or following the lead of other franchises or leagues, sports organizations can often make decisions without consideration for their long term impact and how fans’ needs/habits evolve over time.  It is why a future-forward digital strategy is needed.  They define and scope building new experiences or features, and ensure all channels are working in-tandem toward increasing fan affinity across all audience segments.    

Defining a future-forward digital strategy can take just 3-6 weeks, effectively charting the next three years of digital product maturation across all touchpoints.  At the same time it can be used to identify and define business needs for immediate and long term goals.  At Infront X, we contend that a customizable approach for every sports organization is necessary to best fit their particular needs and the challenges they are trying to overcome.  However, let’s highlight a few factors that need assessment when developing digital strategies and product roadmaps that are impactful.  

Audit of Existing Digital Ecosystem

When it comes to charting a new path forward for league and team digital ecosystems, it often starts with understanding its current state.  A digital maturity effectiveness audit should be completed for all team and league channels in order to understand their current value, and financial maturity.  Reviewing existing content distribution strategy demonstrated through social media channels, newsletters, and owned & operated properties should be completed with key insights that can inform future efforts.  Depending on the structure of the league, core technology systems managing ticketing, merchandising, video streaming, website/mobile app platforms, content management systems, data management systems, and food/beverage systems should all be assessed.         

Vendor / Supplier Assessment

Solutions that can be scaled across all teams and the league can lead to a better user experience, while also reducing overall costs.  Depending on the league, vendors may be decided at a franchise-level, which often isolates important commercial data that can benefit all and lead to higher costs.  Assessing these can help uncover new efficiencies when it comes to types of systems used by all teams (ticketing, merchandising…) and be addressed in a future-forward digital strategy 

Analysis of Landscape and Competitors

A thorough understanding of the landscape of fandom and how competitors are delivering value to their fans is essential for building toward future behaviors and seeking out blue ocean opportunities.  While we don’t endorse the notion of “keeping up with Joneses,” we can often benefit from assessing how innovators and traditionalists alike respond to fan desires.   

League + Team-Specific Monetization Channels

In-depth consideration should be given to league and team specific monetization channels.  This includes digital conversion analysis, measuring sponsorships and partnerships assets, and a review of established business strategies.  In order to make decisions toward the future, it is important to know what is currently driving value to league + teams and where there is opportunity to build new monetization channels.  

Digital Effectiveness Scoring

Channels can be assessed through a level-setting exercise to score their effectiveness in achieving their purpose/goals.  Adding measurability to these types of analysis is an important tactic to drive organizational consensus and make decisions, especially when solutions are intended to be scalable across multiple organizations.    

 

These are just a few examples of the exercises, workshops, and audits that can inform a long-term digital strategy for leagues and teams.  Reach out to us to learn more about how to design your digital strategy programs to deliver value to your league and its teams/clubs.