Facebook predicts media disruption could change which sports are popular

At Leaders in Sport yesterday, Facebook’s Head of Global Sport Dan Reed gave a presentation to the crammed in audience of rights holders, agencies and media about why sport and Facebook are the perfect combination.

With 650m sports fans on Facebook and 200m on Instagram, we know that sports has long been a primary destination for fans to go to for their fix. Whether that’s from a team, athlete, media company or just to chat with friends.

One of the key take-outs was Dan’s thinking on the shifts in sport when media is being disrupted. Baseball was not the American obsession before the advent of radio, and NFL wasn’t at the same level until HD TV. When every move could be covered from every angle, making it the broadcast feast it is now.

He sees a new disruption happening now and that sport will also see profound changes in what becomes the mainstream. Two cases he highlighted where the Reebok Crossfit World Championships and World Surf League (WSL).

WSL has been seen as a digital first sport that is seeing a huge new audience especially through Facebook, whom it now has an official partnership with. They saw the reach it was getting compared to the amount of ‘likes’ they had, and were outperforming much bigger leagues and teams.

So can we see these sports overtake and take the place of other established sports that we have become accustomed to? It has happened before so there is no reason why not. Some sports have a natural fit with the rising platforms and consumption habits. Whilst others, well they just don’t.

This isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight, but our kids who have been brought up on YouTube, Netflix and Amazon will notice and be part of that change.

Separate to this, the BIG question that I’m sure would have been asked if there had been a Q&A at the end is around the upcoming Premier League rights. The subject was though spoke about the previous day when Dan took part in a media round table where he neither ruled or out them participating in it.

“The Premier League is a very important partner of ours,” he said. “We work with them on an ongoing basis to help them grow their audience and optimise their presence on Facebook. It would be premature to speculate on how we might approach that opportunity but they are a very important partner of ours.”

Many headlines then came out saying how they could well be in it, but it would be foolish of them to rule themselves out so early when the opportunities are still unknown. If something of interest comes up then I’m sure they’ll try to get it, but otherwise will probably sit on the sidelines and see what happens with Amazon.

We shall wait and see….

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 820 posts

Dan is the Founder & CEO of Digital Sport. Can be found at sports industry events and heard every week on the Digital Sport Insider podcast. @DanielMcLaren

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