Future of sport on TV for Gen Z viewers

What is the future of live sports on TV for Gen Z viewers, it has always been that outlier in the disruption to traditional media.

Live sports has no substitute, the authenticity of live sport leaves no substitute but creates something unique, a connection.

The connection between the viewer and the athletes or teams is unparalleled in traditional media. When you think of live sports you imagine sitting in front of a tv screen but in the growing age of social media and instant forms of entertainment that is all about to change. 

Micheal Spirito sits down with Zack Weiner and Baron Davis on web summit to discuss TV sports rights, the industry and what the disruptors of over the top (OTT) platforms are doing to mix it up. 

Zack Weiner is the co-founder and president of Overtime. Overtime is a media network start-up, designed for the next generation of sports fans. 

Baron Davis, a twelve year NBA player, two times all-star. Successful entrepreneur and skilled investor also the founder of Slic. 

Weiner discusses the new generation, Gen Z. “The GenZ consumer is not consuming sports in the same way”. With the growing rise in social media and social media influencers, it’s paving a way past traditional media. Social media offers something that traditional media can’t. A personal view into their lives, you gain a connection with the player or his team. The personal view that social media creates is one of the reasons it’s so successful. The access is so easy and anyone can use social media. Everyone has the chance to be heard, it creates a voice for the viewers. Weiner states that “When I talk to kids about why they love over time  The number one piece of advice I get is that it sounds like their friends and I don’t think they would say that about any legacy media company.”

Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Tik Tok offer a sense of community to the Gen Z viewer. Deciding who you’re following, what you like or dislike or share gives the consumer a sense of control. That power or control feeds into the consumption and why the new generation is so involved in Social media platforms. Ultimately they decide their futures on these social media accounts. Weiner says “That is ultimately what disguises us from legacy media companies that this next generation feels like they are part of the community and that they have power over Overtime and that is why they watch the content.”

Weiner continues “ this translates into revenue this is why brands want to work with us and that’s why we are able to sell t-shirts and hoodies to our fans.” What Weiner is talking about relates to the topical boxing fight of YouTubers KSI vs Logan Paul 2. The first fight was streamed on YouTube and sold over a million pay per views on Youtube and sold out an entire arena in Manchester.

This was an amateur boxing fight, KSI and Logan Paul are entertainers, not boxers but the influence they have over their young fanbase is something that can’t be compared to traditional media. After the fight ended in a draw, a rematch was sparked. Eddie Hearn one of the biggest sports promoters got involved. He noticed the views and money these YouTubers were bringing in by just their names and their social media platforms.

The first fight went from YouTube to being a SkySports box office main event and being streamed on DZN which is one of the biggest streaming platforms in the world. This event is history-making not just for the fight but for the connection made between traditional media and social media. 

Sticking with the connection made between traditional media and social media, the topic of advertisements and sponsorship arises. When asked about the line blurring between traditional sponsorship and consumable media Weiner says “In the best case it’s blurring the best-sponsored content we see those engagement rates, those watch times are just as good as our normal content.” he continues “no one is saying anything negative, why did this brand appear, is because they feel the brand is bringing them an experience digitally and sometimes in real life.” (Weiner,2019). 

Baron Davis discusses his webpage Slic that allows athletes and celebrities to share their stories, “We look at this thing called digital premium, how can we make television series, documentaries and never past 15 minutes.” he continues “ Our consumer is just like the Overtime consumer, we want to graduate them into this new set of television, filmmaking and documentary making but give you enough snackable content”.

What Baron is discussing is the main difference between new age media and legacy media. New age media like Tik Tok or Instagram provides you with the short term content that satisfies you. You are in control of what media you are collecting and that media on these platforms tends to be fast, punchy content but its “snackable”. We are coming to an age where short term content is gradually overtaking long term as short term is more efficient. (Davis, 2019)

These sports websites such as Slic or Overtime provide you with personal stories that connect you to the athlete. You gain a connection that legacy media can’t give you. Will this affect or kill of TV sports I don’t think so.

Sitting down on your couch or going out to the pub to watch your team or favourite athlete perform is embedded in the sport itself. New age media will offer healthy competition and will stay unique to itself but with traditional media evolving like with the KSI vs Logan Paul fight you will see a balance between the generations when it comes to sports consumption. 


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