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Sports Marketing Without Sports, Brought To You by COVID-19
Sports Marketing Without Sports
In the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, “That escalated quickly.” In a matter of days, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused nearly all major sporting events to be delayed, closed off or outright cancelled (and those that haven’t more than likely will), leaving sports fans with an empty schedule during a time that is usually jam-packed with events to consume. To the non-sport fan, this may not affect your day to day life much, but to a large number of us, this leaves a massive hole in our daily content consumption.
So what now? How are fans going to stay connected to the teams they love when the game is no longer being played? One place could be through the inevitable influx of content that players/coaches/teams will now have time to produce. With players having less on their plate from a competition standpoint, that could open them up to opportunities to create content to help maintain or build their personal brands. One player who is well ahead of the curve (pun intended) is Trevor Bauer. Playing in a sport like baseball that traditionally doesn’t market its star players and even stifles their individual personalities with the “unwritten rules of baseball”, Trevor Bauer has taken it upon himself to build his own brand. In 2017, Trevor created Momentum, a content platform for athletes to tell their stories and show you a side of them that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to see otherwise.  In a time where sports will depend on individual personalities baseball may wish they had more Trevor Bauers.
It’s merely a prediction, but I would expect engagement rates for social/digital content will spike over the course of the next 30-60 days. For brands who now find themselves with unusable sponsorship assets, we’d recommend working with your partners to turn those into social/digital assets that will connect with a massive number of fans hungry for sports content. While fans are deprived of the game itself, they will turn to the next best alternative to staying connected to their favorite teams/players which could provide an opportunity for brands to leverage their contractual social/digital assets in a more meaningful and unique way. For brands seeking new sports related opportunities during this difficult time, an OTT platform with a lot of potential is PlayersTV. Started by Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, CJ McCollum and others, PlayersTV is a new network dedicated to showing sports lifestyle and culture.
For those of you not looking for new investment opportunities, talk with your partners about rearranging you current asset mix to replace your on-site, or in-venue assets to a more social/digital focused mix of assets.  Given all that’s going on, properties will be more than flexible to work with brands that want to remain active despite the lack of live competitions.
While we will all certainly miss the live events and eagerly await a return to sports normalcy, now is not the time to throw our marketing hands up.  There is incredible opportunity to provide much needed content to the fans all while driving a little marketing ROI, if we think outside the box there could be some amazing things to come from all this.