Down! Set! Content! Fans Win with Sports Content Marketing

It’s a good time to be alive for sports fans who crave not only the action of the game, but also the news and stories behind the scenes. Increasingly, they have content marketing to thank, largely due to the symbiotic relationship that exists between sports and content marketing. What we as content marketers do is applicable and beneficial to many industries, but few are as perfect a match as America sports industries.

It’s no revelation that we love sports. No matter the day or season, you can get your sports fix pretty much any time you need it. (Remember “The Ocho” from the movie Dodgeball?) And while much of it comes to us “free” from Fox, CBS and NBC, you’re still paying for channels like ESPN and NFL Network.

Content Scores Big with Fans

Let’s use the NFL, America’s most popular league, as our subject of study. The NFL alone is nearly a $10 billion dollar industry: More than half comes from television rights and corporate sponsorships while the rest comes from fans, mostly in the form of ticket and merchandise purchases.

That’s a lot of money we’re willing to invest in a form of recreation. It’s also indicative of an environment ripe for content marketing, with the businesses responsible for contributing that massive first chunk of money to the NFL’s revenue wanting to connect to the fans responsible for the not-so-small second lump. And fans are happy to digest sports-related content marketing.

Build Brand Awareness Through Sports

Take Verizon Wireless, for example. Verizon is a major sponsor of the NFL and, in turn, has the Verizon-exclusive NFL Mobile app, which allows Verizon customers to get live games on their mobile devices.

Verizon also uses content marketing to reach NFL fans. Besides the actual NFL season, Draft Day is likely the event fans get most excited about. On Draft Day 2013, Verizon provided a behind-the-scenes peak at the event by following soon-to-be rookies Eddie Lacy and Tavon Austin on their big days.

It’s a great example of content marketing being used to build brand awareness and appreciation, rather than directly selling products. No Verizon Wireless devices or services are mentioned in the video. Instead, consumers are given a behind-the-scenes look into the NFL.

Verizon Wireless also engaged with football fans through concept videos with actual NFL stars. This content brought users “Closer to the Game” by bringing the secrets of game play to life. Getting the scoop on football strategies straight from the players brought the game closer to Verizon customers through the NFL Mobile app. This was exclusively created and promoted by the Verizon Wireless brand.

Brand Engagement Is Your First Play

But the videos drive traffic to, where the videos are linked to Insider’s Guide. As is often the case in the relationship between sports and content marketing, the mission is to drive brand engagement, and not necessarily immediate sales. If the brand engagement proves fruitful, the long-term relationship established between company and consumer can be far more profitable than the immediate purchase.

Verizon’s “Draft Day” videos and “Closer to the Game” videos series are only two examples capitalizing on America’s favorite sport. The scope of the relationship between sports and content marketing is massive and expanding rapidly. Maybe the most successful example of a brand incorporating sports and content marketing is Red Bull, and I’ll be back with another post about that soon.

Share Your Winning Examples

What examples of sports content marketing have caught your attention? Share experiences that brought you closer to a brand through game play in the comments below!

By Zack Hill

Keep reading in Strategy