Battle for the Second Screen – Super Bowl 50


The two teams competing in Super Bowl 50 have been decided following the Denver Broncos’ 20-18 victory against the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers’ crushing 49-15 win against the Arizona Cardinals. As the Broncos and the Panthers prepare to do battle at Levi’s Stadium on February 7th, off the field a digital battle is taking place as companies compete for fans’ second screen attention.

Numerous businesses have different plans for the Super Bowl, from statistical engagement to social interaction. The NFL itself has a number of different options, the most prominent being NFL Mobile, but the Super Bowl provides an opportunity to raise brand awareness like no other sporting event in the United States. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the battle surrounding the event is not limited to the two teams.

CBS are the national broadcasters of Super Bowl 50 and will be looking to build on the second screen app used for Super Bowl XLVII which provided them with a solid advertising bump by utilising the different platform. The app offered statistics alongside the broadcast, essentially providing a central hub for fans of data in sport. However, they are not permitted to stream to mobile devices, which is only available for eligible Verizon Wireless customers via the NFL mobile app.

Unsurprisingly, social media will be at the forefront of the battle for the second screen. Snapchat teamed up with the NFL at the start of the season to enhance coverage of football events. NFL Live Stories feed can be found in the Discover section of the Snapchat app, with its dynamic Geofilters allowing Snapchatters to add real-time score updates to their photo and video Snaps to better express the excitement of the game, updated which are now powered by STATS. Twitter will continue to be a primary hub for social interaction, but it’s Facebook that seems to have targeted the Super Bowl to launch a product. Facebook Sports Stadium combines social interaction with play-by-play conversations, expert analysis, news from journalists, posts from the league, coverage from media outlets, and live statistics from the game itself. In short, the new platform aims to cater to every possible need of fans in Levi’s Stadium and watching at home.

The Facebook Sports Stadium will compete with the likes of the NFL itself, ESPN and other hubs of live, in-game data, giving the user the ability to keep up with play-by-play statistics, tracking the progress of every player involved. This is also likely to be available via gaming websites for fans who place money on the game, as sportsbooks will also be competing for attention, as the total amount of money placed on the game is likely to be in the billions. In-play gambling is huge across the world, as anything from the first/next scorer of a touchdown to a field goal being scored in an individual quarter will be available to bet on throughout the match.

NFL fans have numerous second screen options, something which is to be expected for an event like the Super Bowl. Brands are also likely to battle for the strongest association with the contest, either via sponsorship or advertising. Whether their preference is social media, statistics, play-by-play, or a combination of them, there is plenty available to fans for their pleasure. However, when it comes to streaming and instant video of the event itself, only CBS (online, tablets) and the NFL (mobile) are available, giving them the advantage in the battle for the second screen.

California Dreaming: The NFL Returns to Los Angeles


St. Louis recently became the latest city to lose a major sports franchise as the NFL announced the Rams will be returning to Los Angeles in 2016, 21 years after the team left California for Missouri.

Second Time’s a Charm?

The departure of the Rams will be felt heavily by the city of St. Louis, particularly given Missouri taxpayers still owe $100m towards the construction of the Edward Jones Dome, but the move makes sense for the NFL in pure business terms. Despite being the second largest sports market in the United States, Los Angeles has been without a professional football franchise since the Raiders and the Rams left the city in 1995. By voting to relocate the Rams, the NFL owners have given the league a second chance at success in L.A. They will be confident of overcoming the attendance issues of the past to build a state-of-the-art arena and create a stable presence in the city this time around.

The 18th largest city in the world, Los Angeles’ 18.3 million inhabitants earn a combined annual income of $823 billion and give the city the economic bandwidth required to support another major sports team. Already with a pair of franchises in each of the MLB, NBA and NHL, Los Angeles is second only to New York in terms of the size of its sports market. The city’s two basketball teams – the Clippers and the Lakers – both rank in the top five most valuable NBA teams according to Forbes and the Los Angeles Dodgers is estimated to be worth around $2.4 billion, making it the world’s second most valuable baseball franchise after the New York Yankees.

Engaging a Fan Base

Although the Rams struggled to consistently attract big crowds during the franchise’s first stint in Los Angeles, the evolving nature of sports viewing in the digital age means that teams are now far less reliant on ticket sales as a revenue stream. New technologies are enabling leagues and teams to better engage with fans inside and outside the stadium, helping organizations to improve the fan experience and monetize their brands through new media and additional advertising revenues.

The arrival of new technologies and improved streaming platforms is giving teams worldwide visibility, with international broadcasts and online access making it easier for teams to build and sustain a global following. Yahoo’s streaming of the Jacksonville/Buffalo game at Wembley Stadium in October 2015 exceeded all expectations, with 33.6 million users watching the game via the stream despite a conservative pre-game estimate of 3.5 million.

Social media companies have been at the center of these changes that the way sports are consumed. For example, Snapchat has agreed to media rights deals with sports leagues in order to feed its Live Story feature, the system which collates content for specific sporting events via the Geofilter function. Snapchat has also partnered with STATS to enable users to add real-time score updates to their photos and videos to express the excitement of the game to a truly global audience.

All of these technologies are giving franchises such as the Rams the opportunity to better understand the profile and motivations of their fans, helping teams to lead the digital conversation and enhance their brands. Given Los Angeles’ status as one of the most digitally engaged cities in the world, the potential for the Rams to interact with highly connected local and global audiences is huge. In fact, it has been predicted that the move to L.A. – taking into account all possible sources of revenue – is likely to be worth around $500m a year to the Rams.

New Opportunities

By the time the Los Angeles Entertainment Center is completed in Inglewood in 2019, the Rams will likely be one of the most modern and innovative sports franchises in the world. Seating 70,000 fans and designed to host a wide variety of sporting events, the state-of-the-art arena is projected to cost in the region of $2.5 billion and will enable the Rams to diversify and generate multiple revenue streams.

By taking advantage of the many sponsorship, event and brand activation opportunities that will come with a new location and, in time, a new stadium, the Rams are set to become a multi-faceted organization. Combining intelligent partnerships with a strong digital engagement strategy, the Rams are set to become a focal point of the North American sporting landscape.

The Rams have already received over 45,000 season ticket deposits ahead of their return to Los Angeles, a strong indication that the city’s appetite for football is strong. The relocation of the Rams may have abruptly stripped the city of St. Louis of a major sporting asset, but the opportunities presented by Los Angeles were ultimately too great for the NFL and the franchise’s ownership to resist.

London Calling: NBA continues global expansion on and off the court


Tonight sees the NBA arrive in the UK for the sixth time as the Orlando Magic face the Toronto Raptors at the O2 Arena in London.

A key feature of the NBA’s continued globalization, the NBA London games were introduced by former Commissioner David Stern as part of his vision to significantly expand the league’s reach overseas. Stern’s ambition is shared by his successor, Adam Silver, and tonight’s event is the second regular season game to be played abroad in 2015/16 after the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings met in Mexico City in December.

Despite the relative weakness of the Great Britain national team and the country’s lack of a major domestic competition, basketball’s popularity in the UK is stronger than ever. Tonight’s game sold out in under an hour when tickets went on sale last October. Basketball participation continues to grow, with a reported 218,000 playing the game at least once a week.

Not only has the NBA gained a strong foothold in Europe, it is also making big strides in emerging sports markets such as China. Of the $5.5bn the league generates annually, approximately $150m comes directly from China, with the NBA now scheduling preseason games in the Far East as it looks to continue a rate of growth in Asia unmatched by any other major sports league. With no serious threat to its dominance (the Spanish Liga ACB is the world’s second biggest basketball competition with an annual revenue of $106.9m), the NBA is the only competition that stands to benefit from basketball’s surging global popularity.

The intelligent use of social media and digital technology has been a major catalyst for this growth, connecting the NBA with its growing international fan base. The number of fans engaging with the league on Facebook rose from 14.5m to 27.4m between September 2012 and September 2015, with the NBA’s Twitter following increasing from 6m to 17m during the same period.

The NBA’s innovative use of analytics has also played a major role in the development of its profile both at home and abroad. One of the first major leagues to fully embrace statistics, performance information is a key part of the NBA’s social strategy, with its @nbastats Twitter account having over 318,000 followers and helping fans and media partners to engage with the league in greater depth.

As the official statistics distribution partner of the NBA with STATS SportVU® cameras installed in every arena, STATS is supporting the league as it continues to explore the rich potential of advanced statistics. STATS SportVU unlocks a range of statistics that were previously too difficult to quantify. These statistics add layers of information to engage fans around the world and power second screen applications that help media companies enhance their presentation of the league.

The speed with which the NBA has adapted to new forms of technology has benefitted the league in numerous ways. Not only is the league more accessible to its legions of fans around the world, its investment in social media is contributing to increased sales of tickets, merchandise and advertising. Connecting with fans, boosting its profile and helping brands and sponsors to reach vast new markets, the NBA’s global games have become a key strategic ingredient in the league’s mission to turn itself into a truly international competition.

STATS SportVU® is the official player tracking technology of the NBA. SportVU creates a wealth of innovative statistics to engage teams and fans with unique basketball data and immersive content experiences. Contact STATS to find out what SportVU can do for your organization.