By: Quinn Kreller
Think back to the last time you watched a live sports broadcast. Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the team or just had it on in the background, odds are that you were using your phone or other device while watching the game. Sports fans are increasingly using additional devices while they watch live sports. Fantasy sports, gambling apps, and social media are turning active viewers into passive viewers.
On the surface, the concept of the second screen might frustrate streaming services and their advertisers. Viewers' attention is being drawn away from the product by the content offered on their phones- especially on social media. Recently though, companies have shifted to meet the consumers where their eyes are, on their phones.
While increased social presence for the companies themselves certainly helps, there has been a clear investment in the creator economy to more accurately target consumers on the platforms they’re already on. Leagues, teams, brands, broadcast networks, streaming services, and even athletes themselves are all investing in the creator economy now more than ever.
The NFL recently rolled out its “Access Pass Program”, which unlocks its massive content library for select content creators and influencers to use in their original content. Ian Trombetta, the NFL’s SVP of Social and Influencer Marketing says that the program is designed to reach younger and more casual fans “on their terms."
The Access Pass Program isn’t the only way the NFL has invested in the creator economy. As a continuation of the creators they invited to the draft, the league has recently launched its Creator of the Week Program, where the NFL hosts content creators at games every week, with opportunities to get exclusive content behind the scenes. These programs are low cost-high reward for the NFL as they are able to target a young, niche audience with content that is known to resonate with them.
In addition to leagues’ increasingly tapping into the creator economy, broadcast networks and streaming services have begun to do the same. To increase the value of their ad sales and brand partnerships, Paramount Global recently rolled out the CBS Sports Creator Studio, which connects advertisers and creators who will “create custom content or provide behind-the-scenes access to CBS Sports events” per The Hollywood Reporter. Paramount believes the Creator Studio will be especially attractive to brands looking to connect with younger viewers who are more likely to be consuming sports-related content on their phones.
Even on an athlete level, the impact that the creator economy can have is becoming more and more apparent. Kevin Durant, Caleb Williams, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Kurt Benkert headline the list of athletes investing in or creating content creator-centered companies in recent years. Former Packers running back, Ahman Green, speculated that “traditional athletes’ interest in the creator space is due to their intimate understanding of what it takes to transform an individual into a brand,” per DigiDay.
Prior to the rise of content creators as we know it today, the idea that the individual is also the product played out in a relatively unique way in sports due to the short career length of professional athletes. Athletes’ understanding of the branding process that creators have to go through has resulted in them leading the charge in this flood of time and money into the creator space. From the NFL, to Paramount and CBS, to Kevin Durant and Caleb Williams, the effort to meet viewers on the second screen is clear, and the creator economy is the way to do it.