Yet, it can be hard to keep up as streaming platforms become increasingly more expensive and busy schedules are jam-packed with one game tournament after the other. As a result, many sports enthusiasts turn to play-by-play coverage – interactive, written commentary put on by sports journalists for events and games.

Live play-by-play coverage allows fans to keep track of, stay engaged with and follow their favorite sports and teams easily and affordably. In many ways, live coverage enables fans to mass consume sports.

Live coverage is a golden opportunity for newspapers to reach sports enthusiasts

To stand out and make the sport experience as immersive and engaging as possible, live coverage may include chat features, commenting, and direct links to social profiles.

A recent study shows that 58% of Gen Z and 49% of millennials follow athletes on social media, and 43% of viewers in both demographics follow league social accounts. This makes the younger audiences more likely to keep up with multiple teams and players simultaneously. 

Other readers, such as those working shifts or long days, prefer to consume match reports through live play-by-play coverage when life gets in between watching a game.

From a news media perspective, the interactive experience of live coverage advances the following:

1) Live commenting to enable fan engagement: Commenting and live chats enable fans to connect, boosting team spirit and camaraderie. The opportunity to engage with other supporters allows sports fans to immerse deeper into the reading experience, recreating a comparable feeling and atmosphere as when going to watch a game live, regardless of where readers are located.

Above: Commenting Fuels Team-Spirit. Powered by Live Center

2) Real-time updates influence last-minute decision-making: The Rikstoto case study, featuring Norway’s leading licensed bookmaker for horse racing, is a perfect example. Rikstoto saw that content published ahead of big betting events using a live publication approach delivered higher revenue per customer and increased overall engagement with upcoming horse races.

Above: Live Coverage by Rikstoto. Powered by Live Center

3) Interactions to capture first-party data and create fan-driven universes: Live coverage for pre-game, in-game, and post-game moments create a microsite of actively engaged users. Every opportunity to interact with comments, polls, chats, or trending content creates streams of first-party data – data that may be used to create more personalized experiences for fan readers, thereby driving even higher engagement.

Exclusive real-time sports content to fuel readership, engagement, and subscriptions

Live coverage is a clean sweep for media companies, enabling journalists to react to events in real-time with both written and multimedia content. Due to their highly engaging nature, sporting events in particular provide a golden opportunity for journalists to get in front of the eyes of millions of fans and drive traffic to the news website. Playing a part in building new reader habits, real-time live coverage ultimately helps to establish a solid and recurring readership, higher engagement, and more subscriptions. Here’s how:

1) Coverage with UGC from social media drives higher engagement: User generated content (UGC) can help drive higher engagement rates as it allows for authentic connections that fuel the passion for a game. In fact, 60% of audiences believe UGC content is the most authentic. This allows sports fans worldwide to feel connected with the live experience, increasing the likelihood that they’ll return to that particular news site.

2) Live blogging in real-time captures immediacy and relevance: There is incredible value in being first-to-market, and live content captures that immediacy. It offers an outlet for breaking stories about athletes or team standings that become trending articles. Journalists can also share links to relevant exclusive content when breaking the news to encourage readers on their journey to subscription.

3) Exclusive live feed content to drive fan subscription: Hard-core sports fans seek access to exclusive, in-the-moment updates during a big game, but they need to know whom they can turn to to provide it to them. Sharing live content helps build your journalists’ authority, credibility, and reputation.

Build out fan communities and earn affiliate revenue with live coverage

By adopting live play-by-play coverage, news outlets can build stronger relationships with their audience and foster strategic revenue generation as well as affiliate marketing. 

At the same time, converting fans from live coverage into paying subscribers increases publications’ leverage and helps them to identify trends, patterns, and commonalities in what types of updates earn the most engagement, CTRs, and conversions.

The first-party data acquired from live coverage can also be used as leverage when dialoguing with affiliates, as it provides data-driven evidence of viewership, interactions, and subscription rates, all of which are highly valuable insights to potential advertisers. 

All in all, live coverage is yet another strategy for newspapers that elevates fan spirits and enables communities while generating potential advertising revenue for publishers. Are you ready to live-blog the next sporting event?

This article was authored by the team at Live Center.

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