The content explosion – how rights holders and clubs are becoming more sophisticated than ever

Posted by in Commercial, Digital, Entertainment, Media, Paul Childley, Sponsorship

With more content than ever available to sports fans, production teams at rights holders, clubs and sponsors are growing in a bid to tap into the opportunity that new platforms, technologies and interactions can provide. SRi partner Paul Chidley investigates the changes that are happening in content across rights holders and clubs.

The ability to create content has never been easier. From the professionally produced, such as Samsung’s recent School of Rio series, to rough-and-ready video on social media, the costs involved have tumbled, while the opportunity for sporting bodies and sponsors to reach fans has grown exponentially.

It’s an important area that, without engagement, would appear to be a missed opportunity. However, when not done well the variety of content platforms, along with the different ways that content is now consumed (whether that’s mobile, tablet, laptop or television), can offer as many pitfalls as positives.

Rights holders and clubs recognise this and are taking up the challenge in a variety of different ways. Both in-house and agency content teams are growing at a rate of knots to meet the challenge.

Rights holders at the top level, such as the largest Premier League clubs, employ dedicated content teams responsible for all video and social media output. This can be on their own channels, such as the Arsenal Player on Arsenal’s website, or via their partners and sponsors.

With each partner having different expectations when it comes to content production, those teams need to be in a position to both create their own campaigns, as well as manage specialist agencies and professionals to execute large scale campaigns, stunts and series, too.

Having the size and versatility to respond to their partners’ needs has become a crucial requirement of the largest in-house media teams.

Below the spending power of the Premier League and larger rights holders, other smaller bodies and clubs are looking to create a balance between in-house capability and outsourced agency expertise. Whereas those at the very pinnacle of the sport can provision constant and expensive content production, further down the pecking order there’s a decision to be made, both budgetary and political, as to where and when that investment in content is made.

Sporting leagues across the world have a responsibility to their member clubs to manage their expenditure pragmatically, so often look to build on low level constant content production with bursts of campaign activity with its content teams around the start of the league season, or for a big final.

For this model to work, a skilled communications team is still in place on a day-to-day basis, but agencies supply the flexibility and expertise on a short-term need.

Elsewhere, we have seen that the initial focus has been in-house for sporting bodies which can’t match football for breadth of support and corporate wealth. In-house communications teams have been restructured, so that they now comprise sub-sections which have wider remits which, in addition to media and communications, now often cover digital and content.

While creating expensive content production facilities wouldn’t offer requisite ROI for these sporting bodies, the employment of a content specialist, who manages the use of production companies can change the way that they create and disseminate their media.

Those involved in content strategy might see massive positives in striking a 50/50 balance between in-house and agency content. Bringing in outside minds, possibly from other industry specialisms, can stoke the fire for new, unique ideas that can help the organisation stand out.

For rights holders it is evident that, at all higher echelons, great attention is given to the provision and extent of content production. Strong in-house teams can shape the voice and identity of a club or governing body’s brand, while clever use of agencies can provide a cost-effective way of bringing in new expertise and creativity on an ad hoc basis. Even for the largest entities, agencies still provide a valuable resource, but the teams available to manage those agencies are becoming more capable and professional, too.

Over the past five years, we have seen rights holders building and expanding production in-house teams, with agencies, interestingly doing the same. It has made the need for a skilled talent pool even more vital.

In such a fast-moving area of the media space, rights holders are going to great lengths to make sure they stand out. For the foreseeable future, that will involve allowing for as much resource, talent and creativity as their budget will allow.

Paul Chidley is responsible for managing the UK contingency team, Sports Recruitment International, based in London. His team specialises in sourcing and placing candidates into graduate to mid-level roles across sales, marketing, digital, broadcast, PR, events, hospitality, sporting goods and operations functions.

To have a confidential chat about how Paul’s team can help attract the right talent to allow your organisation to succeed, please contact Paul on