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Opinion: Transforming Players into Digital Influencers

With the sporting world pivoting to digital – and with lockdown restrictions pushing fans to online content for their entertainment – Nick van Rensburg, Communications Manager of PT SportSuite, takes a look at monetising sport’s biggest asset, it’s athletes, and how the opportunities are available not just for the elite among them. 

There’s no getting around it – 2020 has been a year to forget for the professional sports industry, with no sporting code, league, competition, sportsman or woman escaping the seismic devastation and disruption COVID-19 has wrought around the world.

More than anything else, professional sports organisations are in the content game, and with the suspension of live sport to combat the spread of the coronavirus, many clubs around the world were left with no option but to go into survival mode, with some expensively assembled playing squads sitting at home catching up on their Netflix viewing (is there anyone left who hasn’t seen The Last Dance?). 

Lower down the UK football league structure, many traditional clubs were dragged into a nightmare battle for survival, with no substantial back-up revenue streams to rely on to buffer the loss of match day ticket sales.

The repercussions will be felt for some time still, and it is those sports organisations who have taken the hard lessons to heart who will ultimately come out stronger on the other side of COVID-19.

Formulating a new game plan     

In the modern digital world, where fan engagement is more likely to occur on a social or web platform via mobile device than inside a stadium on match day, the world’s  biggest professional sports brands have transformed the way they view what type of business they are – from sports clubs to modern media houses.

These clubs have realised that building digital fan communities around exclusive content that brings fan engagement into their own digital platforms, rather than on third party platforms like Facebook or Twitter, opens up all sorts of revenue-generating opportunities, in the form of subscriptions to premium content, syndication, sponsored content and advertising.

But it’s not enough to have the necessary public-facing digital properties in place to publish or stream your content, and then monetise it. Truth is, if you’re not creating the kind of content that really connects with the new generation of fan, you’re not getting off the starting line.
Your players are not just players – they’re content creators

So how to futureproof your content strategy and ensure you’re producing media that will attract your fans off the pages of Facebook and into your own branded mobile app or website property, where you can drive revenue growth, offer more to brand partners, and commercialise your content?

The answer lies with the players, and more specifically their ability to connect with the fans in a way that is global and yet personal all at once. Empowered by social media, players have become engagement machines, with fans drawn to the authentic, behind-the-scenes content they provide.

Younger fans are now connected to the players in a way never before seen, with players leveraging this interest to amass vast digital communities around their personal brands.

A look at the top performing Instagram accounts in football proves the point: according to, only three clubs (Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus) make the top 10 for followers, with the rest of the list filled out by global superstars. The top three alone – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar – have amassed almost 550-million followers between them.

When it comes to engagement, again it is the individual players who rule the roost, with the best performing club – Greece’s PAOK FC – coming in at sixth. Bayern Munich’s Alfonso Davies rules the roost, with a nifty post engagement rate of 30.15%.

While it’s obvious that not every sports club can boast a verifiable global superstar in the likes of Ronaldo or Neymar, the truth remains that clubs can be doing so much more to leverage the interest fans have for player-generated content in a way that maximises the player’s commercial potential, while generating revenue for the club and value for fans and sponsors.

The world’s biggest sports clubs and brands are able to stage manage these player moments, for themselves and sponsors, and then collect them for further publication and monetisation, but even they are allowing potential game-changing content to slip through the cracks.

Magic can happen anytime, anywhere – at practice, on the team bus, in the changing room. By giving players the platform to share these moments themselves and encouraging by incentivisation, sports clubs can collect behind-the-scenes content on a scale never seen before.  

The question is, how do sport clubs of all sizes and shapes, not just those with large internal media departments and content creation teams, establish a repeatable digital workflow that allows them to collect this behind-the-scenes player-generated content?

Collecting player content with SportMojos

At PT Sport Suite, we believe our SportMojos product can service this need.

SportMojos is a mobile media collection platform that solves the problem of collecting player media in a way that is simple, yet repeatable and sustainable in the long run.

SportMojos is a web and app-based solution that allows sports organisations to create private content creating teams of players, coaches, brand ambassadors and professional content creators. The platform provides a simple workflow for commissioning players with content requests, while allowing players to submit their captured media anytime, anywhere, direct to the club’s private web dashboard for further re-use and re-publishing.

SportMojos makes it possible for clubs of all shapes and sizes to capture behind-the-scenes player media which will attract new followers and engagement on social platforms, or provide quality content that can be monetised via your own branded digital platforms.

Dylan Rogers
Dylan Rogers

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