Opinion | What moments are most important to a sports fan?

When it comes to fan engagement, the opportunity is spread throughout game week, but that creates a challenge.

If you think about the way you looked at sports twenty or thirty years ago, I dare say a lot has changed. So much of the experience used within the game, whether it was ninety minutes on a football field, forty-eight minutes on a basketball field, or 60 minutes on an NFL field—regardless of the sport—it was a game that you participated. Engagement was also limited to those at the match, with technology limiting news and information from reaching those outside the stadium.

Changing fan expectations, global audiences, technological changes and bolder commercial strategies are combining to reset this approach. A fan in another country may not be as valuable as one down the road, but it still has value. Jersey sales may start to be more important than ticket sales, and moments that happen outside of the game may not be more important than goals or wins, but they offer a unique opportunity to engage with fans.

Every message is an opportunity to engage

In August 2021, Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Manchester United after a 12-year absence. When the announcement came out of Manchester United’s Twitter account, fans went wild and within 12 hours the post had received more than 65,000 replies, 827,000 retweets and 1.8 million likes.

The same depth is expected during the game as after the game

Maybe ten years ago, you could get away with saving your in-depth analysis for post-game coverage. There was an acknowledgment that the immediate response comes first and the smart stuff comes later. Increasingly, you’re seeing advanced metrics integrated into the live match; “expected goals” and “win odds” are an integral part of the experience, while “momentum” charts are increasingly seen on social media and in broadcast.

The opportunity to engage fans is clear but presents challenges.

How do you achieve the required depth of analysis? Fans’ desire to know what’s really going on in the game continues to grow. When the expected targets emerged almost ten years ago, there was some resistance. Yet, in subsequent years, we’ve released metrics for streaks, momentum, live win probability, power rankings, expected assists, and more. You’ll see all of this when you tune in to watch your team play. A deeper understanding of what’s happening in the game is more of an expectation than an optional feature.

In addition to that, the moments we as fans choose to engage with are outside of the game itself. Team announcements, live comparisons, press conferences, match blogs, podcasts, transfer deadline days, the list goes on. So much of what we engage with happens away from the game, and while the game remains at the center, it’s part of a connected experience united by rich content.

Whether it’s in or out of the game, the challenge remains. With so much data and information coming at you, how do you surface the truly unique insights when they matter and deliver them to fans in a consumable way?

At 11am (EST) on the 29thth June, we’ll be streaming live on StatsPerform.com to show what those key moments are, how fans are engaging with them, and how PressBox lets you deliver complete sports coverage to make the most of them.

Register here to secure your spot.

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