ContentThe saying goes that content is king.  If you have the right content, you have the key that unlocks everything.

From a sports business perspective, having the right content ensures that you get the right viewers, advertisers, and distribution.  It puts you on solid ground in an ever-shifting media landscape.  That is why ESPN paid over $15 billion for rights to the NFL through 2021.

[1]  It’s also why NBC outbid both Fox and ESPN when buying the rights for the English Premier League, paying upwards of $250 million over three years starting this August.[2]  Viewing of the EPL and other major international domestic leagues has been increasing at a steep rate in the US, and NBC wanted to take advantage of that steady growth.

The truth is, though, that content takes on a multitude of forms. It’s more than just media conglomerates buying up live sports rights.  For example, Pepsi recently inked a deal with Beyonce worth a reported $50 million.  Part of that deal allows Pepsi to create original content with Beyonce (or, at the very least, to promote Beyonce’s original content) to capitalize on her massive star power.[3]

Not to be outdone, Beyonce’s husband (and rapper, producer, owner and entrepreneur) Jay-Z just partnered with Samsung, allowing the technology behemoth to give away one million copies of his upcoming album to certain Samsung smartphone owners.[4]  Unsurprisingly, Samsung is betting that this affiliation with Jay-Z and his content (not to mention a three-minute original “commercial” featuring the artist that aired during Game 5 of the NBA Finals) will enhance the company’s appeal and help them stand out from competitors in a crowded marketplace.

The pursuit of content doesn’t end with major brands.  Sports properties, which have long been creators of their own content (ex.: the Portland Trail Blazers have been creating unique video vignettes and series for years), are now starting to generate and own their content to an even greater extent than in the past, due to the rise of more affordable technology and more expertise in the digital realm.  For instance, the Houston Dynamo, with the help of an agency in Houston, recently launched a custom free mobile app for fans.  This app contains sections that include information on Dynamo news, scores, and match stats, along with Dynamo TV videos and a social media feed, looping in Twitter and Instagram.  In this article about the strategy behind the app, Dynamo president Chris Canetti states, “Our strategy has shifted into a digital and social space, and the app will be the centerpiece of it all going forward. This is a quality product and Dynamo fans are going to find great value in having it.”[5]

This move by the Dynamo represents a fundamental shift in sports business’ traditional approach to marketing and advertising.  Properties and brands are realizing that content, and beyond that, custom content, is essential to working through the clutter of today’s marketplace and creating meaningful dialogue and relationships with fans, brand advocates, customers, and potential consumers.

With the exception of signing the Beyonces, Jay Zs, and NFLs of the world, content creation is becoming more and more viable at increasingly cost effective rates.  As a result, there is a strong likelihood that we will continue to see more and more properties, brands, and agencies get in the game.  The question then becomes, what are you/your company doing to stay competitive in this new landscape?  If you haven’t already done so, now might be the perfect time to assess your current situation by asking the following questions:

  • How you are marketing to your current and potential customers?
  • How are your customers consuming content and media?
  • What are your peers doing?  What are your competitors doing?
  • How are other industries engaging their target audience and how can you adapt that for your space?
  • How are you creating a unique experience for your customers that they can’t experience anywhere else?

Finding the answers to the questions above might not change how you market and brand your company, it might make you realize that there has never been a better time than the present to create an app, push a digital venture, or engage your fans and consumers in a new, original, and cost-effective way.  Regardless of your next move, though, custom content is here, and for many forward thinking companies, it is a crucial component of taking their products and services to the next level.