Online Study Focuses on Effects of Technology Advances and Social Media on the Information Cycle
A new online research study, conducted by OmnicomMediaGroup and ESPN, has revealed that Latin American sports fans have changed their daily media consumption and sports information-gathering routines due to advances in technology which allow for multiplatform, simultaneous access to devices like computers, laptops and smartphones. Another key finding has revealed that fans are increasingly exposed to and use social media for their sport information gathering and promotion. The study was based upon responses from an ESPN fan forum Latin America panel where respondents revealed their preferences and attitudes toward sports information and events, the presence of brands and the multimedia format broadcast during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“We were excited to have the opportunity to partner with OmnicomMediaGroup on a project like this for Latin America and go beyond what is already known: that multi-media use is growing rapidly in the region,” Rikki Groeger, vice president of research, ESPN International said. “:The project was spearheaded by Cynthia Rivera, director of research for ESPN International, who, together with OMG, helped illuminate deeper insights into some key drivers for increased usage on multiple platforms and how technology is helping sports fans stay connected during their changing life-stages.”
For fans, staying connected to sports via multiple platforms makes sense and sports are a full-time experience for them. While TV is still the top option, other devices are gaining popularity and making it so that they have real-time sports updates 24/7. The results show that, sixty-eight percent of respondents say they follow sports/teams using different devices simultaneously now more so than they used to, which is a high percentage given the prevalence of fandom throughout the region.
“Through this study we wanted to understand the evolution of the sports fan, and how understanding these changes, brands can find more options to connect with fans. The relationship with sports is not new to Latin Americans; this has always been the case and mainly associated with family, friends and colleagues. However, in recent years thanks to technology, these relationships appear more rooted, closer, more continuous,” said Karina Besprosvan, regional director of Latin America research at OmnicomMediaGroup.
Most respondents agree that the way they connect to sports has changed over the years. Sports fans are using more electronic devices today to follow their favorite sports/teams, with over sixty percent favoring computers or laptops and another forty percent using their Smartphones for their sports fix.
“Although sports are still mainly absorbed through television, fans have a thirst to stay informed prior, during and after key events from wherever they may be. ESPN and OMG wanted to understand this better, and the results show that most fans engage with sports information and conversation through multiple platforms and social media vehicles,” said Alfonso Cueto, senior director of ad sales for ESPN Latin America.
The study also concluded that the use of social media has also played an important role in shifting sports-consumption behavior, allowing for quick updates so sports fans no longer have to wait to be informed. Key conclusions found that Facebook is the most popular social forum for sports and is visited once a day or more (seventy-five percent) followed by Twitter (forty-seven percent) and YouTube (forty-one percent). During the London 2012 Olympic Games, sixty-five percent of respondents communicated with friends, family and other sports fans via social media. According to one of the panelists, “Social media improved my overall experience because I had more contact with the Olympic events where my country participated.”
In response to fans increasing interaction with sports in the digital environment, ESPN has made numerous enhancements to its digital offerings in the region, including: the launch of a fully mobile ESPN.com site, localized and geo-targeted homepages on ESPN.com, an all-digital version of ESPN The Magazine for IOS and Android devices and the establishment of a large and active social media presence, including more than seven million followers on Twitter and Facebook.
Other findings observe that ninety-one percent of respondents admit to being extremely excited about special sporting events, while only sixty-one percent admit to feeling this way for other non-sporting special events like the Oscars or general elections, and that sports fandom is at an all-time high, especially in Mexico and Brazil in anticipation of major sporting events in the region including the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The study concludes that Latin Americans overall are spending an increasing amount of time following sports. Fifty percent of the panelists responded that they spend between two and four hours following sports Monday to Friday and forty-three percent spend the same number of hours following sports Saturday and Sunday. Eleven percent of fans said they spend on average eight or more hours daily between Monday and Friday following their favorite teams or sports and double the amount of time following on the weekend.
The study also found that the role that brands play in sports media, especially during major sporting events such as London 2012, is crucial. Respondents said that participating brands need to share something that generates an unbreakable connection to them and advertising that reflect joy, localization, athletes representing fans at games and that emphasizes success and effort.
1. Evolution: Fans spend more time viewing sports, not only by traditional means, but also through new technologies.
2. Sports are viewed 360º: It’s normal for fans to follow their favorite teams and watch important events on more than one device.
3. Major sporting events break the routine: Routines change and lives revolve around the sporting event.
4. Brand participation is important: Particularly in the method of sharing messages, and how messages are perceived by the viewers.
5. Sponsors need to tell a story: The ones that cause an emotional reaction in diehard fans are better remembered.
6. Brands need to follow the fans’ media consumption habits: to satisfy their desire for information and to inform, share, and help create a better experience.