Well Sean has returned after a brief hiatus from the world of Digital Fixation. Did you miss me? Hopefully everyone has been keeping safe in the chaotic environment that has been hoisted upon us over the last few months. What’s interesting to see is the relative return of professional sports over the last several weeks. That would include here locally in Australia with the minimally sized crowds for NRL (National Rugby Leaue) and AFL (Australian Football League). And as of last week the NBA (National Basketball Association) which of course is based in North America. We can’t forget the one Canadian squad (Toronto Raptors) who happen to be the defending NBA champions. Unfortunately not the LA Lakers (greatest franchise ever)
What I wanted to examine in this piece is whether your viewing of sports has changed during the last few months (when it’s been available). And perhaps have a broader look at whether these changes are going to be a permanent part of the viewing landscape moving forward. Shall we begin our examination using our digital lens?
The Last Dance
Did everyone check this documentary on Netflix? I wasn’t even the biggest Bulls fan but I found the series quite intriguing. And for us NBA starved it couldn’t have come at a better time as not only did it quench our thirst for hoops but also brought back memories of the NBA’s better eras. The relative success of The Last Dance has encouraged sports broadcasters to begin offering more in the way of multi-episode documentaries in the near future. Not only is it way to build audiences but it also can be used to attract new audiences on platforms that would normally offer only movies and entertainment (And no sports)
I have a mate that’s pretty inclined to critique practically anything. He’s just of the overly opinionated sort. He pretty abhors the idea of the “virtual fan”. Which in some cases can be a cardboard imitation of a genuine person so as to not make the stadium look entirely empty. It’s something that been used in sporting events in Australia and it’s something they’ve been utilising in MLB (Major League Baseball) in North America. In the case of Fox Sports in the US they pip in “fake fan audio” in order to recreate the genuine bustling sound of a crowded stadium. I would ask the genuine sports fans out there? Does that bother you? Or does just having your favourite athletes out there competing the most important thing? I’m a bit in the middle on this one. The empty seats in the initial NBA games does come across as rather bizarre. But the NBA is typically played in a more intimate setting with the fans seated at courtside and in close proximity with the players. The lack of crowds in a stadium contest like your typical AFL Game doesn’t seem to affect my viewing of it to the same degree. And given the occasional unruly commentary from some corners of the fan base, perhaps a handful of players don’t really mind?
Popularity of Viewing Sports on Apps
I recently came across a story about ESPN delivering “short form stories” on its signature ESPN App. Apparently it’s part of their drive to attract a more modern audience that perhaps doesn’t view sports in the same way their traditional audience does. On the surface this isn’t necessarily a direct effect of Covid-19 but one in which more ‘’niche” viewing options will be made available. So for example instead of having to watch an entire broadcast of Sportscenter, the viewer is able to curate different bits of information and prompt them to tune into an event, access an ESPN article or perhaps engage in a commercial transaction. I wonder if you’ll see more of the broadcasters offering such incentives on their apps? And will the sporting audiences readily embrace them?
Ultimately for many of us sports starved fans it’s great to see our teams and players out there competing again despite the current unstable environment. But it also makes us realise that although we do love sports our ultimate concern is everyone is safe out there and can avoid the dehabiliting virus that has affected so many. So what are your thoughts on what I’ve covered? Is there a future for more sports documentaries on non-sporting platforms? Is the idea of the “virtual fan” turned you away from viewing your favourite sports? What about viewing more sports content on apps in general? Or are you of the mindset to continue watching our favourite sport on the big screen? Drop us a line with your feedback. Until next time!