Fan engagement was the topic of discussion this week for the 100% Passion webinar, where two leading voices from the digital world discussed audiences, the gender balance of content on digital platforms and innovation in fan engagement in the future.
Karren Rogers, APAC Sports Partnerships from Facebook and Will Giles, Content Manager at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) joined Mel Jones for the fifth edition of the 100% Cricket Leading the Game series.
Rogers who managed the Facebook partnership with Ellyse Perry that launched an exclusive docuseries which aired in January 2020 spoke about building stories with athletes to engage with audiences.
“Working with Ellyse was fantastic. Not only is she is an amazing athlete, but being able to go on her journey with her leading into the WBBL and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup with her was a real opportunity. The engagement we saw with fans globally was phenomenal. The Facebook Watch series was a great way to show how you can be authentic, lift the lid on your world and take people with you. It was just a really good way to lead into the Women’s T20 World Cup, including with fun content moments, like the collaboration with Katy Perry which was a particular highlight.”
The conversation explored the gender balance across digital platforms and Giles who helped managed the AELTC part in the ‘One Day in July’ content collaboration with the ICC which celebrated the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final and Wimbledon men’s final – both of which took place on 14 July eight miles apart, explained the AELTC strategy.
“We commit to 50-50 gender balance across our output and be the change you want to see if you will, but we are always challenging ourselves to whether we need to do more. I say 50-50 in the sense of, if you look at our Instagram content for example you would see equality across men’s and women’s tennis.
“However, we definitely do capitalize throughout the year and give that extra boost to women’s sport. More recently we ran content that asked which female athletes have inspired both female and male players. We need to take the opportunities that are presented to us to promote women’s sports, but also engage by knowing what our audiences want and that is crucial.”
With the impact of COVID-19 on live sport, there has been a change in fan engagement tactics and Giles gave his views on how this may change even further moving forward. “In the immediate future people will watch anything. When things come back to some sort of normality, we will all be discussing what worked in this period, what lessons we can take forward and what can work in the future. I think the digital media element that has arisen in this time whether that be retrospective look backs, or player throwback features on social media platforms could be combined with what we were doing before and will create innovation of how we move forward.”
Rogers gave her thoughts on possible new innovations to grow audiences: “We’ve seen some great examples of bringing fans closer to the broadcast, creating digital fan-zones and making screens work more effectively together. Growing the fan base is always important, but interestingly we have seen markets like the US tuning into Australian sport more than they have before, due to us bringing sport back post-lock down. There may be an opportunity moving forward to create those fan-zones for international audiences. I think it will be interesting to see how much innovation continues post-COVID-19.”
Next week’s webinar 100% Unity will be the final episode in the series and will focus on creating inclusive environments for girls and women to participate in cricket. The guests will be Arijana Demirovic, Head of Women’s Football Development – FIFA; Belinda Clark (AO), Executive General Manager – Community Cricket, Cricket Australia and Dr Sarah Fane (OBE) Director, MCC Foundation.
100% Cricket provides a platform to celebrate the women’s game and bring everything fans love about the sport to life. The ICC’s pledge to bring 1 million new women and girls to the game, as part of 100% Cricket will be delivered in partnership with Members.