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Consider this jaw-dropping statistic: last year, NFL Digital Media accounted for 10 billion minutes of video consumed across all of its digital and social media properties. That includes live game viewing, of course, but it also includes a broad range of video podcasts and other live TV shows that complement the action on the gridiron. By embracing digital media, the NFL has been able to extend the reach of its content, win over new audience members, and super-serve the digital content needs of the game’s most passionate fans. So what have been some of the keys to the NFL winning social media?
“Live” streaming content
In the world of sports, “live” video content is king. As a result, the NFL is doubling down on its production of live video content. That includes live game streaming via the NFL app and other web properties such as Yahoo Sports, as well as new live shows that are viewable on social media platforms like Twitter.
Embrace of new platforms
And that leads to the next major key to success – the embrace of new platforms. The NFL has been unafraid to go in new directions, as long as there is evidence that fans are willing to view content on these new platforms. Case in point: NFL Digital Media is now making two live shows – “The Checkdown” and “Around the NFL” – available for streaming on Twitter.
The case of “The Checkdown” is particularly interesting, because it is positioned as the NFL’s “football culture brand.” That type of content is perfect for sharing on social media, and it also helps to attract a much younger demographic. The idea is to air the live shows on Twitter ahead of Sunday night and Thursday night NFL games, thereby encouraging young viewers to stick around for a few more hours and become even more engaged with the sport.
Expansion of content offerings
Where the NFL has really excelled is by constantly expanding the range, depth and scope of its content available online. This year, for example, the NFL is ramping up its “Game Center” features on the NFL app. That means more scoring features, more highlights, and more statistics. The NFL is also adding to its impressive list of video podcasts to appeal to as many different types of fans as possible. If you’re a big fantasy football fan, for example, there’s plenty of fantasy content to keep you watching NFL content on your desktop or mobile device.
Social media policy
And, finally, the NFL has been able to scale so impressively because it has put into place the right type of rules, guidelines and policies that keep all of the various sub-brand owners on the same page. In May 2016, for example, the NFL instituted a new social media policy that explains exactly what it can (and cannot) do with digital media content. This makes it a lot easier to roll out new content offerings, because all the ground rules are already in place.
At a time when the NFL is more popular than ever, one big reason for its popularity has been its expansion in the digital and social space. The NFL has recognized that its fans are social media-savvy, and that many fans prefer to watch all their content on mobile devices rather than the TV. As a result, the NFL has become a digital media juggernaut worthy of emulation by other aspiring media brands looking to build audience and ramp up engagement.