by Sabry Otmani, CEO and founder of Pulpix

What Publishers Need to Realize about Engaging Sports Fans with Online Videos

Criticism, retirement, insults, racism. What might sound like a daytime soap opera is actually an insight into the world of sports websites. Sports fans are more likely to engage with negative online videos involving athlete’s opinion than watching replays of game-winning goals.

“Marketers in the sports arena have the advantage of having fans that are aware and passionate about their brands, but the challenge remains in understanding what online content viewers engage best with.”

According to the a recent study by the Global Sports Media Consumption Report, 68 percent of sports fans consume content online and 42 percent of fans consume sports content via a mobile device. According to the Alexa Traffic Ranking there are more than 3.5 billion football fans worldwide. Because of this vast engagement, it is vital to understand what captures the attention of the online sports audience. A recent analysis during the UEFA Euro 2016 on video traffic shows that users of websites such as L’Equipe,,,, and others are more enticed by issues off the field than on the field; the celebrity gossip of film stars but sports version.

Read also: Why Video Content is necessary to your Editorial Strategy

Sports Fans Love Athlete Gossip

Although the Global Sports Media Consumption Report claims that, at 44 percent, the sports content which is most widely accessed online is live text commentary, our in-video recommendation tool, Pulpix, shows otherwise. From retirement to speaking poorly of other teams, the videos viewers engaged with the most on sports websites were not synonymous with play time but rather negative or controversial topics.

Most viewed sport videos

Most Viewed Videos from Top Sports Websites in France during 2016 UEFA Championship

From the predictive technology powering personalized video recommendations on these sports websites, Pulpix, observed that once sports fans were engaged with content what they chose to further pursue were athlete press conferences or major athlete gossip.

Most fan attention

Videos that Drew the Most Fan Attention on Sports Websites during 2016 UEFA

Another interesting pattern found amongst the data, was that online sports fans were engaging with videos to learn about the behind the scenes of their favorite teams. If fans were then offered more content to watch through in-video recommendation technology, such as Pulpix, fans spent more time on sites with content that gave insight into the athlete’s life or personal opinion.

A recent study from the Journal of Sports Management found the top reasons fans engaged with sports websites was for fan expression, entertainment, and team support. When creating content for sports websites, publishers should focus on why viewers visit their websites, rather than what. By focusing on why viewers engage with certain content, they can adapt their content to their viewers needs. To illustrate, content that is controversial or comments on athletes behaviour gives fans an opportunity to further express their opinion and entertain their idols in other contexts, out of the field.

Football video recommendation Pulpix

Video Recommendation by Pulpix Predictive Algorithm — L’ July 2016

Key Takeaway

The online sports landscape is a field of opportunity for publishers. By creating content that answers the viewers motives and needs, sports publishers can engage viewers for longer periods of time.

Content creation for sports fans has ample space for growth. Not only are there many websites who have yet to fully integrate sports streaming, but as live video becomes more popular, more content will continue to be generated. As long as Lionel Messi’s name keeps appearing in semi-incriminating documents and Cristiano Ronaldo breaks down crying at the end of matches, there will be new content to be capitalized on and an audience ready to consume it.

Read also: The Best Video Hosting Solutions for You

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