Creating a dynamic sports experience with in-app fan engagement
For as long as sports have existed, there have been fans. There’s just something about being able to support a team you passionately believe in, cheering them on as they shed sweat and tears to reach their goal. Being a part of a committed fanbase is being a part of a community. Even research shows that when you become invested in your favorite team, a very real relationship is being formed in your mind. Their wins are your wins, and their losses are your losses. While your team may not be able to walk away with a win every time, sports matches are still exciting and rewarding to their faithful supporters—especially when they are able to engage with more fans while following their favorite teams.
The global sports market
Given the fact that the global sports market was valued at 458.8 billion US dollars in 2019, there’s no denying that we love this industry. Millions tune in to watch professional sporting leagues such as the NBA (National Basketball Association), NFL (National Football Association), and EPL (English Premier League) from all over the world—and more get hooked every season!
As one might expect, there was a decline in the 2020 sports market due to lockdowns and social distancing measures taken to contain COVID-19 across the globe. The world was forced to adapt to a new way of living, and the sports industry was no exception.
Thanks to greater online accessibility, increasing sponsorships, and the emergence of e-sports, however, we can expect a quick recovery and even growth to 826.0 billion US dollars by 2030.
The stadium is going digital
As the audience grew and new digital platforms emerged over the years, the way we consumed sports changed considerably.
Of course, many of us still buy tickets to attend matches in person. It isn’t easy to replicate the electrifying atmosphere of a full stadium on game day, not to mention the experience of grabbing a soft pretzel from the concession booth and jumping up and down in the stands with your fellow fans while you cheer your team on to victory.
Despite the unmatched excitement of a live match, mobile apps are growing in popularity as a way for fans to watch and participate in sporting matches without having to attend in person. Technology has paved the way for a global fanbase to support their favorite teams through the screen.
Why does fan engagement matter for sports apps?
Fan engagement isn’t just for the crowds at the venue on game day. There are plenty of supporters using mobile devices not only to watch the live event, but also to monitor live stats, interact with peers, view replays, check player stats, and delve into analyses.
A mobile app that invests in its community can enjoy as much as 5 times the value in return, proving it should be a priority for a fan engagement platform. Aside from the potential ROI (return on investment), here are some reasons to create a more engaging user experience:
Second screening is common
An overwhelming majority of people (96%, to be precise) reach for an additional device while watching sports on TV. Of those, 74% grab their mobile phones—and it isn’t always a bad thing.
Fans who use their smartphones during live matches are typically looking for a way to connect socially. They want to share the excitement, see other fans' reactions, and feel the hype of the crowd.
Fan engagement features like live chat embedded in live videos can help them get their social fix while staying on topic.
Attention spans are short
In a similar vein to second screening, attention spans are shorter than ever. Coupled with the fact that athletics are typically fast-paced and adrenaline-fueled, sports apps have to keep fans immersed in the experience.
Social features can contribute to community engagement so your audience stays interested and keeps coming back for more sports-related content.
Engagement creates stickiness
The best sports apps don’t only deliver live matches and relevant information to their audience—they are also home to engaged fan communities that add tangible and intangible value to their brand. And it’s that community-built value that makes a sports app “sticky”.
How to boost sports app engagement
Now that we know why fan engagement should be a priority, let’s move on to how you can actually create a more dynamic sports-centric mobile application.
1 - Deliver real-time sports updates
One of the most important sports app features is real-time updates, especially during a live match. Fans want to support their team throughout the game, and if your mobile app is unable to deliver match updates in real-time, you’re likely to lose them.
Whether you’re a dedicated team app, live sports streaming app, or even betting app, real-time updates allow fans to experience the hype of the game right alongside everyone else.
2 - Use push notifications to keep fans in the loop
Quick updates must come paired with push notifications so that fans are always aware of the latest scores, breaking news, exclusive content, and replay-worthy moments. These prompts drive traffic and revenue by reminding users that your platform exists and will contribute to their sports-watching experience.
3 - Create immersion with live chat capabilities
Live chat turns every tournament into an interactive experience, making it a must-have for sports apps like Kaizen Gaming that focus on live events. Integrated chat allows viewers not only to watch videos but interact with other viewers, translating the excitement and community that comes with supporting your favourite sports teams.
Any app that delivers live streams should make chat a key feature—after all, it has the potential to boost engagement by 150% and sales by 400%!
4 - Add hype with community group features
Crowds are where a sense of community is developed, but groups are where users form tight bonds with others who share specific interests. A sports platform is already centered around a common subject, but there are so many sub-topics that a smaller fan community can be formed around.
Users can use the Groups functionality to discuss line ups, share funny memes, view highlights, and even schedule pick-up games with others who live in the same neighbourhood.
5 - Personalize the fan experience
Members of online communities want to be treated as individuals and receive only the most relevant content. You can help to meet this desire by personalizing each user’s experience on your fan engagement platform.
Push notifications, personalized social media feeds, and tailored in-app messages are some important ways to make every fan’s experience their own—which is why they were a few key features TrueID included in their social experience overhaul.
Every fan wants a unique experience on your fan platform, so if you're gathering data and user analytics, make sure your audience thinks the trade-off is worth it with personalized content.
Sports apps need fan engagement for revenue generation
At the end of the day, sports are inherently social—they’re the core that sports enthusiasts gravitate towards. Without the sense of community and interactive features that comes with connecting with fellow fans online, your sports app can’t hope to succeed.
Social features go a long way to create a real-time, game-changing, and highly personalized fan experience. Live chat, custom feeds, in-app messaging, and other functionalities encourage viewers to participate, driving app stickiness which, in turn, helps your bottom line.
Don’t settle for being “just” a sports streaming app. Take advantage of the community that comes with a popular sport and give fans a way to connect and exchange stories through social features!