Rules For Engaging With The Australian Sport Fan

Rules For Engaging With The Australian Sport Fan

Sport. It’s the lifeblood of Australian culture; we watch it, we play it, we talk about it, and we love companies that support Australian sport. In fact, 36% of Australians feel more positive about companies that invest in Australian sport. But just like we’d disown a family member who supported a rival team in the grand final, our sensitivities also mean brands need to understand who, how, when, what and why we’re engaging with sport and sport related content in order to achieve real cut through.

The Oxford Dictionary defines sport as: An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. You could say the media and marketing industry is doing just that, and the consumer is the ball. A successful game strategy relies on understanding the rules.
The goal posts are clear; it’s about reaching the right audience and creating a response and connection with them that is strong enough to drive a positive reaction.

86% of us say we’re interested in sport, so the fan base is big, but our drivers for engagement differ wildly. Deep segmentation into demographics, locality, preferred teams, attitudes to sport and levels of fandom will offer more insight and information than just audience figures provide.

TV is the key driver of sporting engagement in Australia, and it dominated the most watched television programs in 2014 (along with reality – showcasing two very clear groups of consumers!). Almost one-third (32%) of us have watched AFL on TV in the past 12 months, while the State of Origin series was watched by 11.7 million in 2014.

Eight million people visited a sport website in July 2015, up 9% since June 2015. Likewise, nine out of the top ten visited sport content websites saw double digit growth since July last year, with several reaching an audience of close to two million in a month.

Nielsen Mobile Ratings results show that 12.5 million Australians accessed the Internet on a smartphone in July 2015, and 39% of those users viewed sports content during that time. Likewise, 7.4 million Australians accessed the Internet on a tablet. As the creation and distribution of mobile-first sport video content grows, publishers are developing more convenient and streamlined options for mobile sport video viewing. Live streaming and short-form content designed for mobile consumption are all trends that are gaining momentum in the U.S. and are emerging locally. This will underpin growth in this category over the next 12 months.

Sport fans are highly engaged, and case studies have proven that brand content connected to TV sport sponsorship has the ability to engage consumers at a higher level than other broadcast TV opportunities. For example, our research found that Holden ads run during sportscast are more memorable than newscasts, and Australians recognised Olympic sponsorship for Channel Nine partners and sponsors three times as much as other brands during the London 2012 games.

Online engagement among Australians is skyrocketing, and sport content is one of the major growth verticals. According the Australia Connected Consumer Report, 58% of consumers said sport is their favourite TV genre that they read articles, reviews and looked at photos about online – higher than any other genre.

In the first half of the year, 11.9 Million tweets were posted about TV. Of those 5.7 Million Tweets were about Sport on TV – accounting for just under half (48%) all TV related tweets (just below the U.S. at 50%). Most tweets per minute for a sporting event this year was the Asia Cup Final: Aus vs South Korea. Peaking at 3,233 tweets per minute at 22.29pm.

With sports sponsorship remaining one of the most profitable and competitive spaces in the industry, both publishers and brands need to understand the changing sports fan with more detail than ever. It’s about connecting who is watching, with what this audience is buying. This means finding an exact audience and using ad spend more effectively to get a result.

We’re all sports fans; consider how you are engaging with your favourite sports code and team, and then consider your preferences against our population, more than ten major spectator sports, three football codes, increasing international sports broadcast, and at least four screens to engage across, and you begin to understand how essential it is to understand your consumers more clearly.