Predictions: Sports Media

by Ben Perreira

Recently a former client asked me for my picks of the top three trends in sports media over the next three years. They are all underway in some stage and I think they will change the way we watch sports for the better.

Digital for Local: In the last few years there has been an explosion of regional sports networks (RSNs). They have gone from 1-2 per major city to essentially a requirement for any team in a medium to large market. Los Angeles may have as many as six RSNs by next year. The next step is for fans in these markets is to be able to access the content on digital platforms (tablet, laptop or PC, but not so much mobile for live sports). I’m sure it’s happening in some markets and it will continue to grow through authenticated portals. This will be especially turnkey with RSNs owned by cable providers like Time Warner and Comcast.

Bilingual Network: I have worked quite a bit in Hispanic media. One of the things that makes this market so fascinating is its diversity. Many Latinos are fully bilingual and bicultural. What this means for sports is that many of them watch some sports in English and some in Spanish. A network that creates the right mix would be a huge win for viewers and advertisers.

Social Media Integration: Fans love sports for the drama on the court and the backstories off the court. Integrating social media cues into broadcasts in a way that allows fans to interact with teams and players makes those stories more compelling. Twitter recently partnered with Nielsen to provide ratings based on Twitter activity. This makes sense because fans don’t want to see a Twitter ticker feed on TV as much as they want to get onto social platforms to see what other fans and experts are saying. This is one way for networks to gauge audience engagement and the power of the content. I suspect we will also see more exclusive content for social media and tie-ins with digital viewing.