Storytelling stole the show at the 4th annual Hashtag Sports conference in Las Vegas last week. Hundreds of the top content creators across the sports entertainment ecosystem gathered over three days to share insights, award the hard work over the past year, and hear from panelists on topics that range from NIL to NFTs.
The panels were home run after home run. Too many to break down, but a few highlights include Chuck Styles discussing the importance of learning your language, Don C supplying rich insight on how you may need to wait for the audience to catch up to your innovation, and Creators of Color which focused on the importance of empowering diverse creatives.
The final day of the conference kicked off with a Tagboard panel hosted by our own Christine Chalk and featured award-winning producers and innovators in sports media (NFL Network’s Amanda Carey, Fox Sports’ CJ Dear, and Bleacher Report’s Tyler Price). Rounding out the panel was Tagboard CEO, Nathan Peterson, who opened by sharing his thoughts on how storytelling as we know it is changing – noting that brands today face increased competition and pressure to tell interactive stories that successfully break through the noise and drive measurable engagement. Throughout the session, the panel of five offered their expertise on the keys to successful storytelling, producing content in a more efficient way, and the impact new interactive content formats can make. Watch the full video here, or scroll down and catch a few clips and notable quotes from each panelist.
How to unlock powerful fan engagement on linear or digital programming:
For us it’s giving our fans a seat at the table. When I first started, our producers almost never wanted to hear from fans. But over the years it has completely transpired to where our producers see value in fans. At the combine this year Michael Irvin was on the field with Steve Smith Sr. analyzing the players going through drills. Irvin was wearing one of the tightest fitting shirts you could imagine, almost to the point where you’re questioning if he bought the wrong size shirt. Fans started tweeting about it saying ‘we gotta get Irv a new shirt’. We started showing these tweets as a complete surprise to everyone on air and both Steve Smith and Michael Irvin had fun with it. It just added so much value to the show. You’re giving love to the fans who are tuning into your broadcast as it is while also enhancing it and having fun. It doesn’t always have to be the X’s and O’s of football. Finding ways to engage your audience organically enhances the entire production.Amanda Carey – Segment Producer at NFL Media
How to build a strong audience experience that creates an intimate sense of community:
We’ve created meaningful relationships by prioritizing the audience experience. Where the viewership is not just the Thursday show (Inside the NBA), but on Tuesday (NBA on TNT Tuesday) or the MLB show these viewers feel very connected to the talent in a way that I’m not sure you’d be able to provide without intention. Our producers on the linear side do such an incredible job inviting the audience in and allowing them to have that direct connection. If you make a joke on Twitter about a show you’re watching, that’s not for your Twitter audience, that person is talking directly to the talent on-air. The ability to poke fun at talent, and then get others on the broadcast to laugh, it’s like you’re in the room with them, the green room, the barber shop, or wherever it is. You’ve created this intimate connection between the two. We see a lot of recurring folks in there who Chuck (Charles Barkley) will call out by name. There’s so many great individual moments, but when you wrap them all together we’ve really developed an intimate relationship between the fan and the talent.TYLER PRICE – VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION AT BLEACHER REPORT
Strategy for strong cross-channel performance:
We’ve really studied our audience. With Shannon Sharpe, he has a specific audience that he’s trying to attract. So it’s really studying them, researching them, and then looking at the conversations they’re having on social media. Therefore wherever we’re creating a rundown, we’re trying to make sure we hit certain questions or make sure we have a focus. That way when we distribute across our channels, it’s a product our audience will want to interact or engage with.C.J. Dear – Senior Producer at Fox Sports
Looking to the future of content production:
What we’re seeing is a huge increase in data sources. There’s a ton of content and data sources you can pull in. The more efficient you can make your production the more success you will see in connecting all the different content puzzle pieces we discussed together. It’s going to take fast and efficient experiences with people trained on those experiences so you can create unique programming. I think we’re going to see an uptick in sports betting, NFTs, and even influencers who pull in unique data and are able to create their own stories and own shows. It’s going to be really interesting over the next 5 to 10 years to see it develop.Nathan Peterson – Tagboard CEO