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Keeping up with sporting trends on a global scale

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Over the past few years, we have witnessed an upsurge in the way sporting events are promoted globally and to some extent here in T&T.

Similar to ways that sports viewership for international audiences has been upended by changes in the industry, we have started seeing a small shift locally in how teams and brands serve ads to fans in an attempt to lure them towards consuming their content.

We are nearing the end of times where promoting events was done through billboards or banners and television commercials. Instead, social media is the new trend but is it enough to totally blackout traditional advertising through TV, print or radio?

Of course, by moving ad spend to digital and social channels, teams and organisations can more effectively target fans who are already interested in their content, not to forget the younger audience.

But our numbers are way different in comparison to a Mumbai Indians or Paris St Germain or Juventus. Cunupia FC in the T&T Super League is perhaps leading the pack through their social media advertising by promoting games through ads that highlight entertainment by local artistes as well as giving fans the opportunity to win attractive electronic prizes such as mobile phones and Smart TVs. They deserve points for it but whether their numbers are jumping up is another question.

Should we be satisfied with crowds of 500 or maximum 2,000 when really a football match in tiers one and two of T&T football should at least have 4,000 or 5,000 or am I being too ambitious?

I still believe that the majority of citizens here are attracted by what they see in the newspaper or on television. The same ad being pushed on Facebook and Instagram may attract more viewership and interest if it were to appear twice on national TV during the week.

Okay, maybe the costing may be a challenge but this is where there is now opportunity for media houses to engage local sporting clubs and organisations by coming up with partnerships that can benefit both sides before one side dies and it’s more likely to be the traditional one.

The T&T Pro League and Super League are getting there but it is a challenge without pushing their promotions through paid advertisements.

The CPL (Caribbean Premier League) for instance is leading the pack not only because of its growth in popularity over the past two years or so but because they have a much bigger television audience and their financial resources allow them to publish ads on social media for a month straight whereas some of our local organisations can merely afford two days in succession.

Let’s face it. We are at a time of unprecedented commercial opportunity in global sports. This vast opening up of opportunity brings an increase in competition: for sponsors, for media revenue, for fan attention. It starts with understanding what is happening in the industry and figuring out what it means for your organisation.

Many sports teams are thinking about the future of their fan base to ensure they have a next generation of fans 10 to 20 years down the road.

A prime focus for that is connecting with women and children. Two key drivers of fan loyalty are the age of that first attendance at a game and participation in the sport itself. The idea that sport is a man’s world today is as outdated as the stereotype that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

Women’s sport is a huge opportunity for brands to play a positive, active role in redressing the imbalance of female representation both on the sports field and supporting pitch side. But if there is the feeling that there are not enough women sporting events, well then the next best bet is to ensure they are present at the venues supporting the male events and coming in the form of added attractions. Come on, what’s better than having your event decorated by a strong female presence. Just look at the World Cup.

With so many new and accessible ways to view sports now, from mobile to social to VR, there is less of an incentive for fans to actually attend events in person. And this where we have to be extremely careful when it comes to live-streaming of events.

This may not sound like a big deal – after all, they are still watching – however, empty venues have a hugely negative effect on the entire sports marketing mix. Nothing looks worse than a half empty stadium.

First and foremost, you need to get people to go to the games. That creates the atmosphere and the best broadcast output. Are our sporting events are accessible to all? Is the venue a tiring task for fans to get to? Are the kick-off times an issue? Are the fans being priced out?

I don’t think so because at most it cost $40 to see a match or event a double-header in T&T today. The other obvious way to overcome this challenge is by enhancing the experience fans get at the venue, compared to the one they get at home or on the move via technology.

So let’s have more finger licking options, a wide array of food and a well-stocked bar; better seating accommodation and if the venue lacks it then partner with a company that could afford you a dozen umbrella tables strategically positioned at the venue; ensure you have a proper sound system in place and sufficient security for a safe environment.

If that part is perhaps costly, hopefully, the future can allow for more conversation in finding ways for the protective services to be useful in promoting sports, especially after the flop of LifeSport.

• Shaun Fuentes is a former FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He is also currently a CONCACAF Competitions Media Operations Officer and has travelled extensively because sport and media. He was also the National Team’s Media Officer at the 2006 World Cup and has held the position for the past eighteen years.


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