Five things we learned from Digital Sport London’s October event

Last night at Pinsent Masons in central London, we had the pleasure of learning from a panel of experts on the topic of what US and UK sports can learn from each other.

Jason Brisbane, Head of Community at NFL UK, Rob Calder, Commercial Director at the ECB, and Jamie King, Social and Digital Content Manager at NFL UK spoke at length to the audience on the panel moderated by Moritz Gloeckler Licensing Director at Sportradar.

Our October event was all about the nuances of fan engagement and sponsorship activation on both sides of the Atlantic and the speakers had a lot to share, but here are some of their main points to take away:

1. People want to identify with athletes

One thing that the UK sports could learn from US sports is that the fans want to be able to relate to the players on their favorite teams. They love behind-the-scenes videos and seeing their favorite player’s personality come through on screen. US sports teams have been doing these kinds of videos for years, and the UK is now moving in that direction.

2. To get buy-in from new fans, they need to understand the rules

A challenge that both US and UK sports face when trying to engage fans on the other side of the Atlantic is that many people don’t really understand how the sports are played. They simply didn’t grow up with it. One way to combat this is to make videos that explain the rules in a simple way. However, that creates the challenge of ensuring that the videos are informative without being condescending. It’s a tightrope all sports now need to walk.

3. Sports are meant to be for the whole family

Sports are all about the experience. In the US, before American football games, people tailgate for hours. In the UK, the games are more like a festival than anything else. Even if people aren’t necessarily interested in the sport itself, they can still have fun at a game and enjoy their time.

4. Research drives strategy

The NFL’s Jason Brisbane told us that through research, the organisation had found that people who play a sport as a child are more likely to be fans of that sport later in life. It may seem simple, but this insight has shaped the way that NFL UK targets new fans. By creating school programs where children can play American football with their friends, they are creating an interest in the sport that is likely to create life long fans.

5. Sports should be locally relevant

When moving into a new country, it’s important to be aware of local culture and customs. Going to an NFL game in the UK is a unique experience, even for someone who regularly goes to games in the US. Local relevance is important so that fans can get involved in the games in a more personal way and they feel a certain ownership of them.

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Parker Sikes
Parker Sikes 34 posts

Parker Sikes is an American student studying advertising in London. Follow her on Twitter at @sikespar.

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