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The Digital Off-Season

Image credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With a new NBA Champion being crowned in the Dallas Mavericks, not only does it mark the end of a long and exciting NBA season, but it also marks the beginning of the off-season. While the off-season provides an opportunity for players to rest (with a few exceptions. See Kobe Bryant.) and a chance for fans to turn their attention to other sports like baseball, social media and the digital space provides no such downtime.

3 years ago, the arrival of the off-season meant that sports executives and teams could begin preparing for the following season. Sales executives prepped for season ticket renewals, sponsorship teams organized marketing and promotional assets, and team news turned its’ attention toward the NBA draft and the pre-season. Fast-forward to the present though and you will see a bigger picture growing.

The digital space has afforded teams the opportunity to curate relationships with fans. With these relationships, teams are able to extend the season and engagement with their fan base. In essence, the season is no longer 9 or 10 months, but rather all year roudn. Yes, the passionate and die-hard NBA fans will always be there 12 months out of the year, but it’s the average fan that starts following the season after the all-star break through the NBA finals (about 5 months) that is the larger demographic. These ‘average’ fans are the ones that teams spend extra marketing dollars to get into the arena by means of special promotions and ticket discounts. Because of this, teams should be actively utilizing the open conversation and constant exchange of ideas and dialogue in the digital space to further their own goals.

Digital Off-Season Checklist

As mentioned, just because there are no longer any more games being played, that shouldn’t stop teams from continuing to extend their fan base and influence. While it’s understandable that there will be a drop in content production and activity across a teams digital assets, teams that get creative can come out of the gates strong when the regular season kicks off once again.

1. Re-evaluate manpower

As the digital space continues to become an important area for teams, teams need to audit themselves and determine if they are taking on more than they can handle. Many sports professionals would agree that digital and social media departments are far under-manned, therefore the off-season should be spent re-appropriating assets to support the digital team and potential responsibilities.

2. Season Evaluation

Similar to evaluating manpower, teams should also evaluate how their season went from a digital perspective. Team should be asking themselves questions such as if they reached all the goals they set prior to the start and also what measurable results they achieved.

Aside from determining what was done right, teams will be able to determine what was done poorly and figure out how they can improve upon them.

3. Content development

Although the season may be several months away, teams should begin planning and developing content for the regular season. From developing new ideas, to ensuring that the content from the previous season can be continued (players change teams, personnel leave, etc.). The most effective content are the kinds that resonate with the fan base right from the start and follow a fan through the length of the regular season therefore launching content with the start of the season works best.

4. Digital Partnerships

Just how sports teams spend the off-season looking for new partners for the following year, sports team should also begin looking for digital partners to help expand their distribution network. From contests to mutual sharing agreements, teams can benefit from the downtime of the off-season by exploring new avenues they previously wouldn’t have been able to pay attention to during the busy regular season.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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