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Rights-holders are being confronted with the dilemma of how best to serve their content to a fanbase that is increasingly time poor and splitting loyalties with other forms of entertainment, according to Nielsen chief Monique Perry.
Australians today have on average 16 different social interests across sport, entertainment and lifestyle – fans are "busier than ever… this is the cluttered and disrupted environment that you're trying to compete with," Perry said.
Speaking this week at the sold-out Sponsorship News Conference at Sydney's National Maritime Museum, Nielsen's managing director of sport and media highlighted an increasingly complex challenge for sports and entertainment marketers.
"We saw a huge increase in the number of entertainment genres attended in the last 12 months, which is just talking to this story of multiple sports and all of these different sorts of festivals, arts, entertainment and music events that people are attending," she told delegates.
Citing Netflix's release of 1000 new series in 2018 and 400 hours of new content being uploaded every minute to YouTube, Perry said sporting rights-holders needed to factor in a wider attention economy when going to market.
"If you take something like [Netflix series] Birdbox – it was [viewed by] 3.5 million in the first day and by the end of the first week 26 million people in the States had watched that program," said Perry.
"If you've got your content going up against some new series on Netflix dropping in the same week, you have to consider that… You've got to understand how this disruption may be impacting your fans and your ability to grab their attention," she said.
US sports leading the way on innovating to combat fragmentation
Perry said North American rights holders are already adapting to this new paradigm, with the NFL now streaming Thursday Night Football on Amazon-owned Twitch.tv and the NBA offering its fans the opportunity to buy certain quarters of a match.
"This is a new way of engaging with a different audience. This is allowing for personalised commentary and chat with other viewers. If you just want to come in and snack on the fourth quarter of the games, you can now subscribe just to the fourth quarter," she said.
Perry said the emergence in Australia of new distribution channels such as Kayo has made it possible for consumers to opt in for a single event and "pop back out again". The Foxtel-owned streaming app has picked up more than 115,000 subscribers since launching late last year, according to Perry.
"There are a lot of different ways now for consumers to get access to their content whether it be in music, entertainment or sport. If we put the consumer or the fan at the heart of it… how do we make it easy for consumers? How do we give them the choice?"
However, Perry acknowledged that these emerging content avenues create dilemmas for rights holders, who need to preserve the value of their major broadcast partnerships.
"[Consumers] don't have an awful lot of time and they want to choose which parts of the content they actually buy. It is this balance between trying to hold the full content and then also appeal to these new younger consumers who just want to snack on content," she said.
Perry said rights-holders that choose to restrict supply and force viewers to watch full length broadcasts have the potential to lose younger viewers. At the same time, Perry said that growth in the value of sports media rights had started to flatten.
"The alternative is you increase supply and you cut up the content and you make it more snackable, but then perhaps you decrease the demand for that full-length content and that is what flows into the value of media rights," said Perry.
"So it is a real dilemma of how do we balance the need to connect with these new audiences and build new audiences, but hold our avid fan."
Perry added that social media usage could pick up some of the slack, with "enormous" appetite for sport among Australian internet users. All of the top 50 most-talked about TV programs on social media last year were sport events, while rights-holders have started to strike deals to push highlights and exclusive content out via Facebook and Twitter.