Lesson Learned from the Twitter and NFL Streaming Partnership

April 7, 2016 Nick Begley

Leverage your community’s passion to identify and grow your fan base

We all want to be part of something bigger than us and yearn to feel an emotional connection with our community as a whole. It’s why we wear team gear, tailgate, chest bump complete strangers when our team makes a big play and watch games ‘together’ on Twitter.

Twitter made a big splash in sports business recently when it beat out a formidable media triad – Verizon, Yahoo and Amazon – to secure the streaming rights for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games for the 2016 season. Media reports suggest that Twitter will pay less than $10 million for the entire 10-game package – far less than rival bids reported to exceed $15 million.

It’s easy to see why Twitter scored the rights for less money.  It’s the only one of the final four contenders that offers access to a powerful, two-way channel to connect the NFL and its fans … and to connect fans with each other.

Watching sports is a very social experience.  We understand this best when it’s served to us visually – like 74,000+ fans cheering wildly and high-fiving each other during the recent college basketball championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston. The team colors and chants were a spectacle for the senses.

It’s more difficult, though, to see the social experience that took place on Twitter before, during and after the national championship game. Yet we all watched the game together – thanks to Twitter. The spectators in the nosebleed seats at NRG Stadium, the Villanova fans in a Philly sports bar and sports fans in their living rooms all across the US watched it together via hashtags and Tweets as simple as “wow”, “whoa”, or “omg.”

Identifying Your Community of Fans

Sports fans follow their favorite teams with passion. Every college athletics program has an adoring community of fans that bleed their team colors and sing their fight songs together.

How well, though, do you know your community of fans? How often, if ever, do you provide them with opportunities to participate and show their passion beyond home games and the occasional donor event?

It’s easy – well easier – to identify your season ticket holders and donors. But what about the fan or alum that lives three or 13 states away? The one who buys your merchandise, watches every game on TV and flies the team flag on game days.

Your athletics department has a tremendous opportunity to grow, engage with and monetize your passionate community of fans, but it all starts with successfully finding and identifying them.

In most cases, they even want to raise their hands and identify themselves. You just need to give them the opportunity by offering unique items and experiences – exclusive gear, venue tours, fan clubs for adults – that can be consumed by local fans and those who are a flight away.

Once you identify your fans, you can analyze them and monetize community members more effectively. And if you identify them early enough, you'll find great value in building cradle to grave fan profiles. If you don’t, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

Go find your fans!  If you need help, ask us, we’re always here to help!

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