How Periscope could transform motorsport

Live streaming video content has already won the prize for social media innovation of the year, with millions of users flocking to try out this new approach.

Twitter’s official app, Periscope, offers a world of new potential for connecting with motorsport fans and overcoming declining TV viewing figures, providing teams and organisers are brave and innovative in its use.

Both the Trulli Formula E and ABT Formula E teams have announced their intention to use the tool at the Monaco ePrix, and here is why other motorsport teams and categories must follow in their footsteps.

By fans, for fans

Periscope comes with a considerable pedigree. With Twitter’s backing and 302 million active monthly users ready to consume its content, the app is showing all the signs of following in the footsteps of Vine – which now boasts over 40 million users.

Its application in sport has already proved divisive. This weekend alone it caused a major media stir when the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight was streamed for free on the app, infuriating traditional broadcasters who were charging upwards of £59 ($99).

As such, many broadcasters are feeling threatened by this potential new rival. However, they should perceive the likes of Periscope as an ideal opportunity to supplement their traditional broadcasts with new perspectives and content. With social media users hungry for more, Periscope satisfies a need for additional insights that they can share and comment on.

Social media is in the midst of ‘Generation C’ – users known for being connected, creative and curators. They want to produce their own content and share it widely with their own followers – this treads a new line between broadcasting and narrowcasting, with social media influencers acting as the hosts and celebrities, not the brands.

Cutting costs, increasing accessibility

It is likely that the considerable desire from the public for sporting events on the likes of Periscope has, in part, been generated by the growing cost of being a fan.

Take F1 as an example. When SkyF1 gained the exclusive rights to broadcast live races in the UK in 2012, the cost for a British F1 fan to watch every race rose from £0 to £363 over the winter break. In the three years since, the annual cost has risen by 55% to £562 – or £763 for hi-definition. This pay TV trend has mirrored in other nations, at a time when global viewing figures fell by 10% in 2014.

Motorsport isn’t alone in this issue. Now that live broadcasting for Premier League matches is shared between Sky and BT Sport, the average cost for English football fans per year is upwards of £720. That’s 57% of the average UK dual fuel bill, and as such is beyond the reach of many fans.

If anything, sport is about passion and dedication. So is it any wonder that people who can’t afford steadily increasing prices are turning to a free and readily accessible alternative?

Open to the opportunities

Ultimately as other sports, such as the NHL, look to ban use of the app at live events, those that are seen to actively embrace it are likely to win over both new and existing fans.

I have previously praised Formula E for its open and active attitude towards social media, and its teams have been quick to adopt the live video streaming format. The FanBoost concept has been one of the main driving factors in this, and Periscope offers the potential to draw in new fans and gain additional votes for teams.

In its most simple form, Periscope offers teams the opportunity to:

  • Host live Q&As, with fans providing greater input and being rewarded with greater accessibility to teams and drivers
  • Make live updates and announcements, for example a comment on car issues from the pitwall
  • Or more importantly to issue an immediate statement on a breaking crisis, offering the potential to control the messages being shared and stem the likelihood of misinformation that could be damaging to the team and its sponsors
  • Host votes to gain fan’s perspectives on the latest debates, rule changes and race outcomes
  • Increase their reach to a younger and more engaged audience

But for those who are more creative there are a wealth of new opportunities.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Manish Tripathi, Emory University marketing professor and founder of Emory Sports Marketing commented: “These apps will be viewed as ancillary to the actual broadcasts. In fact, you could see teams and league using fan generated content from these apps as marketing opportunities to enhance their marketing”.

In short, while Periscope will always just be another tool in the marketing mix for teams, it is an important one that all teams and racing categories should look to embrace as soon as possible to maximise support and income.

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