With the NBA and NHL finals underway and attracting global audiences, we asked media executive https://variety.com/exec/sal-siino/Sal Siino how sports brands are looking to expand overseas:
1- How are U.S. professional leagues innovating to deliver content globally?
U.S. professional leagues are increasingly seeing significantly higher growth rates abroad and are customizing their content strategies to capture this often under-tapped fan base. Specifically, the leagues are creating custom and localized content for the major populations across the world. Audiences engage more readily with sports content when it is offered in the local language and through the eyes and voices of local talent in-tune with the particular culture.
In addition, short form, social content continues to be vital for fan engagement. While platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Snap and Instagram are global in scope, the more progressive leagues are also creating unique content for platforms specific to certain regions or countries. For example, in China the major leagues have all begun to embrace Toudou Youkou (the YouTube of China), WeChat and Sina Weibo (the Twitter of China).
In addition, many of the top leagues have launched global influencer campaigns. More specifically, the leagues are providing special access or unique clips to YouTube influencers for incorporation in their videos. This strategy plays well in creating an organic swell in league content.
2- What should sports brands consider when looking to gain market share overseas:
Whenever sports brands consider escalating their commitment to international markets, they must always balance the size of the potential market with the uniqueness of that market. Using the China example once again, China represents an enormous opportunity for all leagues, but it is also the most unique of all markets in terms of platforms, regulatory landscape, language and current fan adoption rates for most sports. A market like Australia certainly is a tiny fraction of the opportunity in China, but it is also far less of an effort in terms of creating a new way of doing things and leveraging existing resources.
3- Where do you see the opportunities in delivering sports content around the globe:
India is certainly a huge opportunity, especially on the mobile side. The country has virtually skipped the step of broadband internet and gone straight into the mobile internet phase. Given the size of the population and rabid appetite for sports, the only thing working heavily against India is the very low revenue per user – making India very much a quantity versus quality play in the near-term. Also, there are many new entrants in the content delivery space who are especially aggressive and with very deep pockets – some examples would be the convergence of mobile and content from Reliance Jio and Airtel.
Interesting commentary from Sal Siino.