twitter ID: @MatthewTrumble
Broadcast TV and digital is changing so quickly, by the time you have read this a new strategy will probably be needed for something. Rugby League and Super League are well known, attended and watched sports, but we are not immune to what is happening in the digital landscape.
Broadcasters that we could always rely on for exposure are increasingly sparing with their dwindling journalistic resource. Newspapers are running to the common denominator of football and pushing all other sports (it seems) to the fringes.
We decided as a league that we needed to give the broadcasters a helping hand in order to keep our sport on the radar and actively help in its promotion.
We created a Digital Media Unit whose sole purpose was to distribute broadcast quality footage to as many channels as would take it. This unit attends games, press conferences, events etc. and we also set up and shoot special features that highlight our players and clubs.
We send this footage out digitally and free of charge (to the shock of some broadcasters who couldn’t quite believe we weren’t charging for it), and they use it in their broadcast bulletins.
Sending stuff out to a large broadcaster distribution list brought some problems. We shoot everything in HD, but you would be surprised how many news broadcasters will not take or use HD as yet. Plus choosing the right format that everyone can use is bit of trial and error.
It also takes a while for some broadcasters to trust in what we were sending out – some see it as ‘Manna from heaven’ (as I was once told), others think you are stealing their jobs – at least at first. As with everything in broadcast the relationship management is at least as important as the product.
So far we have had a huge take up from regional TV, national and international broadcasters and national radio. We even take journalistic direction and requests from some broadcasters who cannot make it to a specific event for whatever reason. The BBC’s super League show regularly uses content from the Digital Media Unit and make no mention of the footage being from an external source.
Not asking for credit, fee or branding has certainly helped in the take up of the service. Broadcasters present the content as their own and we simply ask for them to inform us when they use it.
Every time a broadcaster uses content that we have sent them – it is a Rugby League item seen by hundreds of thousands that would not have seen it if we had not provided that content. We have done this now for just over a year. Super League attendances and viewing figures are breaking records this year. This strategy certainly cannot be credited with the rises, but I feel the extra exposure has at least contributed.
A happy by-product of the above strategy is that we also use the content for our central Super League TV online video. This goes out to fans through YouTube channels, social media, CRM etc.
Again I wanted to make the Super League TV content as easy to view as possible and also let fans share it and repost it. This helps with our goal of raising awareness.
We historically paid for our online video hosting and this solution (whilst not particularly expensive), was a little restrictive. Also the consumer experience wasn’t great.
I thought long and hard about YouTube and what a good consumer experience it is. How good HD looks on there, the size of the viewing window, and also the steps they were (and are) taking to ensure it is viewable on any device.
In the end we decided to move all of our video hosting over to YouTube and embed both the highlights and news from there onto our various channels. We have never looked back.
Now our fans can watch our videos on virtually any device, in HD and full screen if they wish, and can also share them easily across multiple platforms.
I worried for a while that some may question using YouTube and have issues with their logo showing up on our content for a few seconds. However, the result has been nothing but positive. I wish we had done it earlier. Since then I have noticed quite a few major brands using YouTube a lot more.
Any Sports out there looking for a zero cost / high quality video serving solution should consider it.
Rights holders cannot take their position for granted and some have to fight for media and mindshare with everyone else. Taking steps to actively engage Broadcasters with interesting and relevant content; has provided an additional avenue for promotion for our sport that is proving more and more valuable each week.
twitter ID: @MatthewTrumble
Matthew is the Manager of the Digital Media Unit at the Rugby Football League, providing all the digital and broadcast content for the RFL across Central Online Web and Social Media Channels, Regional Broadcasters, National and International Broadcasters. He has been with the RFL since 2005.
THIS MONTH’S ARTICLES:
EMMA COLLINS (NPOWER): DIGITAL ACTIVATION
BEN GALLOP (BBC SPORT): THE DIGITAL OLYMPICS
CARLO DE MARCHIS (DELTATRE): THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THE OLYMPICS
GIULIANO GIORGETTI (AC MILAN): SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY AT AC MILAN