Industry trends

How Professional Sports Leagues Can Get Into Virtual Ticketing.

Jul 26, 2021 | By InPlayer

In under a decade, the worth of the National Football League’s television contract increased 150 percent to its current value of an annual $255 million per team. With the sports giant reportedly closing in on a new 10-year rights deal that would translate to annual revenue of nearly $4 billion for the league, it seems unlikely that the NFL will begin its own streaming network or rethink the delivery of its most valuable content – game broadcasts – in a meaningful way anytime soon.

However, the NFL – as well as other leagues, organizations and individual franchises large and small – can still stand to benefit from the ongoing digital revolution. Even when monetizing live-streamed games isn’t in the cards, there is no shortage of options for building new revenue streams with additional content offerings and a virtual-ticketing strategy.

Consider the traditional postgame press conference. What had once been a vital point of communication between a player and the fans has evolved into a predictable, homogenized affair that arguably has less value than a follower of that player’s social media feed. But what if the experience were transformed into something more direct – say, a live-streamed player Q&A, in which premium subscribers paid for the right to not only view the session but also ask the questions? Providing this service as a $5-per-month a la carte subscription, or as part of a $15-per-month superfan package of offerings, could translate to a windfall for players, teams and leagues.

 

Professional sports organizations have long viewed themselves as corporations delivering a product to a mass consumer base – and rightly so. But league and team executives who aren’t already embracing the role of digital content producer need to begin updating their mental resumes immediately. If Twitter and Facebook have taught us nothing else, it’s that the appetites of fans are unquenchable. There may be no amount of smartly produced, fairly priced sports content that would be too much for its target audience.

The possibilities are virtually endless. Fans make annual pilgrimages to NFL training camps and Major League Baseball spring training destinations in Arizona and Florida. Would it surprise you that many of them might pay a small fee to watch their favorite club’s practice? Or what about a larger fee for the privilege of drawing up a play that the team will actually run in a practice? (One startup football league has already jumped in head-first to this sort of fan engagement.)

Imagine a virtual ride to the game with your favorite player. What’s she thinking two hours before tipoff? Does he get nervous in the lead-up to game time? Or what about streamed chalk-talk sessions with assistant coaches, who can pull back the curtain on team strategy and talk Xs and Os to fans – without revealing anything too proprietary, of course. The interest level of some fans drills so deep into the realm of minutiae that a virtual tour of a team weight room, explanations of therapy and rehab approaches from team trainers and updates on new logo and uniform designs could well be PPV-worthy items.

The simplicity and flexibility of virtual ticketing shouldn’t be underestimated. Because of data collected from previous online ticket sales, live-stream buys and team-store purchases, these premium add-ons can be easily marketed to high-value customers. Better yet, those channels flow both ways: By reaching a fan first through a virtual ticketing add-on, a team gathers more data and makes a direct connection to a consumer who may well be motivated to buy a game ticket or team merchandise.

Virtual ticketing doesn’t have to be hard. Much of the infrastructure (team website, video platform, etc.) already exists for most organizations. All that’s left to be done is tapping into the creativity of the marketing team and the engagement of a fervent fan base.

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How Professional Sports Leagues Can Get Into Virtual Ticketing

In under a decade, the worth of the National Football League’s television contract increased 150 percent to its current value of an annual $255 million per team. With the sports giant reportedly closing in on a new 10-year rights deal that would translate to annual revenue of nearly $4 billion for the league, it seems unlikely that the NFL will begin its own streaming network or rethink the delivery of its most valuable content – game broadcasts – in a meaningful way anytime soon.

However, the NFL – as well as other leagues, organizations and individual franchises large and small – can still stand to benefit from the ongoing digital revolution. Even when monetizing live-streamed games isn’t in the cards, there is no shortage of options for building new revenue streams with additional content offerings and a virtual-ticketing strategy.

Consider the traditional postgame press conference. What had once been a vital point of communication between a player and the fans has evolved into a predictable, homogenized affair that arguably has less value than a follower of that player’s social media feed. But what if the experience were transformed into something more direct – say, a live-streamed player Q&A, in which premium subscribers paid for the right to not only view the session but also ask the questions? Providing this service as a $5-per-month a la carte subscription, or as part of a $15-per-month superfan package of offerings, could translate to a windfall for players, teams and leagues.

 

Professional sports organizations have long viewed themselves as corporations delivering a product to a mass consumer base – and rightly so. But league and team executives who aren’t already embracing the role of digital content producer need to begin updating their mental resumes immediately. If Twitter and Facebook have taught us nothing else, it’s that the appetites of fans are unquenchable. There may be no amount of smartly produced, fairly priced sports content that would be too much for its target audience.

The possibilities are virtually endless. Fans make annual pilgrimages to NFL training camps and Major League Baseball spring training destinations in Arizona and Florida. Would it surprise you that many of them might pay a small fee to watch their favorite club’s practice? Or what about a larger fee for the privilege of drawing up a play that the team will actually run in a practice? (One startup football league has already jumped in head-first to this sort of fan engagement.)

Imagine a virtual ride to the game with your favorite player. What’s she thinking two hours before tipoff? Does he get nervous in the lead-up to game time? Or what about streamed chalk-talk sessions with assistant coaches, who can pull back the curtain on team strategy and talk Xs and Os to fans – without revealing anything too proprietary, of course. The interest level of some fans drills so deep into the realm of minutiae that a virtual tour of a team weight room, explanations of therapy and rehab approaches from team trainers and updates on new logo and uniform designs could well be PPV-worthy items.

The simplicity and flexibility of virtual ticketing shouldn’t be underestimated. Because of data collected from previous online ticket sales, live-stream buys and team-store purchases, these premium add-ons can be easily marketed to high-value customers. Better yet, those channels flow both ways: By reaching a fan first through a virtual ticketing add-on, a team gathers more data and makes a direct connection to a consumer who may well be motivated to buy a game ticket or team merchandise.

Virtual ticketing doesn’t have to be hard. Much of the infrastructure (team website, video platform, etc.) already exists for most organizations. All that’s left to be done is tapping into the creativity of the marketing team and the engagement of a fervent fan base.

TALK TO US!

 

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