Video, audio and social media content have – according to Shane Anderson, Senior Director of broadcasting at Better Collective – played an integral role in engaging with punters on a multi-platform level.
Ahead of this year’s Cheltenham Festival, which will take place without spectators, Anderson believes that Better Collective’s Jump To It show can help deliver engaging insights for racing fans while also ‘reigniting the passion’ for sports.
SBC: First of all, what was the thought process behind establishing a Broadcasting Unit within Better Collective?
SA: Video, audio and social media is really at the heart of the content journey, whether you are looking at editorial or branded content. Audiences want more of it. Additionally, our partners want more of it. We need to be active on the platforms that people choose, developing a multi-platform content strategy to reach as big an audience as possible for our brands.
Aside from our sites, that means being active across social media platforms, with video and audio content right at the heart of it. We are seeing a continual shift by consumers, especially younger people – true digital natives, wanting video and audio content that is authentic, entertaining and informative. We are now establishing a team that allows us to create significantly more of that type of content.
SBC: What is the vision for this unit, what does it hope to achieve?
SA: This is a long-term strategy and we are keen to continue to build trust with our audience and engage with them in a truly authentic way. This will include the continued development of a variety of content, whether VOD, podcast or live streaming, matched to a social media strategy, that targets the markets that our brands are active in. We believe in the community element of our brands and want to create more opportunities for our audience to be involved, from goal-setting to content creation. This will create new ways to connect with them.
SBC: How is this broadcasting unit taking your content production to the next level?
SA: It adds a further dimension to our content production as it really allows us to be multi-platform in our relationship with our audience. Whether we are creating content that is editorial, educational or branded, there are more ways than ever for our content to be consumed. It also allows our content to be shared and become a part of the conversation in real time. Whether the content is recorded or live, we will be able to really create a voice and personality attachment to our brands which is exciting especially with major sporting events coming up this year.
SBC: Can you tell us a little bit about your Jump To It show, what does it involve?
SA: ‘Jump To It’ is an informative and entertaining program focussed on the Cheltenham Festival, that provides insights from some outstanding racing tipsters, commentators and special guests. We have created a program that allows for cross brand promotion, working across two of our key brand sites of bettingexpert.com and irishracing.com.
The format is one that we know works – discussion on news that is relevant, interviews with key participants, some really smart racing analysis and tips. We want our audience to get to the end of a program and feel that they have gained some knowledge and had some fun along the way.
SBC: And how is the show helping to build engagement with racing fans ahead of the upcoming Cheltenham Festival?
SA: It is a combination of the knowledge that our panel of experts can bring as well as looking at ways of how we can involve our audience, which is the key. Gone are the days where audiences were satisfied with being served with one-way communication, nowadays they have an appetite to be involved in the discussion as it is relevant and happening.
Sometimes they will agree with you, plenty of times they won’t. But it is important to have the audience involved. As much as we get the tips and views from our experts Stephen Harris, Ed Quigley and Paddy Flood, or the trainers that we interview, we always ask for the audience to send in comments on our YouTube channel or other social media platforms. Building platforms that allow for two-way communications is paramount when it comes to creating an engaged community of fans.
SBC: COVID has obviously meant that racing fans have had to watch racing from the comfort of their own homes. Has this had any effects on engagement at all? Or are you finding that fans are more excited to engage with new forms of content?
SA: I think all sports and media are realising that COVID has reignited passion amongst fans. If people can’t attend an event in person, they want the best coverage that they can get from broadcast, digital and social media platforms. There is a real hunger now for all involved to lift their game when it comes to coverage and I think we will see a further push around innovation in this space.
SBC: Looking at the longer term effects on engagement that COVID has had, will it go back to normal once fans are allowed back in? Are there lasting changes to how the ‘average punter’ engages?
SA: It is not just the impact of COVID to consider, I think we are seeing an evolution as Generation Z is now becoming a major economic contributor. That 23 year old and under age group are true digital natives, they live and breathe content in a different way than older generations do and I think their influence combined with the ‘new normal’ that COVID restrictions have created will see many changes to the way the average punter engages with racing and other sports.
I think it will be the sports and betting opportunities that act fast, embrace the new opportunities and don’t resist will be the ones that come out on top and remain attractive to fans.