TMR spoke with Nick Lawson about a passion point of his: sports teams are missing out on no doubt opportunities on social media.
Lawson is the co-founder of Portland, Ore.-based SQWAD, a digital sponsorship sales and activation company that works with numerous NFL clubs as well as teams across the NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and NCAA. A lightly edited account of our Q&A is below.
Team Marketing Report: You’ve called the lack of sports teams’ activation on YouTube “possibly the direst item in sports today.” How so?
Nick Lawson: When I see the low YouTube following, I see three big points including these two:
1) Considering that YouTube is the most-watched platform for sports highlights (see infographic, left), the fact that it is dead last on following is terrifying per team is terrifying. Imagine you couldn’t watch NFL games on any channel in the U.S….You had to bootleg it online. You would create a lot of bootleggers.
2) Where there is attention, there is an opportunity to pirate. Here are just three YouTube accounts that cover the NFL and football topics that absolutely destroy NFL teams on followers:
Say you search the term “NFL Catches” (see screenshot, below right) and little Ding Productions outperforms the NFL in the search. That should never happen.
TMR: Why not?
NL: These channels have 1/100,000 of the resources of the NFL teams have…Yet, they all have at least 6X the subscribers.
TMR: How are brands approaching YouTube in particular?
NL: Good question — that’s my third big point: Brands spent $7.2 billion on YouTube ads in Q3 of 2021 alone! As you watch channels such as Deestroying, notice that the same brands that spend with NFL teams also run pre-roll ads on these non-NFL team or league channels.
Simply put, YouTube is the number one platform to consume sports highlights on. It is how kids learn about sports, it is where they are introduced to the game, it is where they choose their allegiances…when it comes to attention in our sport, it is the pinnacle of fandom today.
As brands spend more and more on YouTube pre-roll ads, they will become comfortable with the platform and results. From there, if you don’t have a way to offer a similar reach on this platform, they may look at shifting money from your sponsorship package and over to pre-roll ads on other channels. Less spend on signs, more spend on videos. This means lost revenue for teams in the sponsorship department.
TMR: Where does a team start?
NL: There’s an easy solution for teams to grow their YouTube audience and therefore subscribers. It’s all based on keywords and content.
I dove into the “easy formula” for teams to follow, including answering the question “Why does YouTube mattter for us in sponsorship?” in a recent blog post. If any team started implementing more of these YouTube basics, they would 10X their reach and subscribers.
TMR: We have the power to make you Team President. What do you do first around social media and content?
NL: If I was put in charge of an NFL team, the first thing I would do is hire a YouTube influencer to build my following there. The individual team that does this will sell more tickets, sponsorship and ultimately become the most valuable team in the world.
That may seem like a huge jump, but I think a huge shift has change with team valuations. However, in the past, sports team values essentially came from adding stadium size plus cost.
I fully believe future sports team value is going to be heavily based on YouTube following.
TMR: Teams need to drive sponsorship sales, or fuel ROI and make renewals easier once they’re on board as a sponsor. To a front office person still scoffing at investing in YouTube and social media, what would you tell them?
NL: Simply put, YouTube is the number one platform to consume sports highlights on. It is how kids learn about sports, it is where they are introduced to the game, it is where they choose their allegiances. Other social media platforms are critical as well, but when it comes to attention in our sport, it is the pinnacle of fandom today.
Like it or not, you should be putting resources here. Time to understand how the system works, what fans search for, and how to make sure your content is at the top of those searches. If your team hired front office employees to only focus on that, not all your social platforms, you can build a massive audience that your team can tap into week in and week out.
Frisco, Texas-based Dude Perfect (shown in YouTube clip above) has a net worth of roughly $80 million, and that includes an estimated annual income between $12 and $15 million. Their YouTube channel posts roughly one video a week, and that video usually gets several million views within a week of being posted.
My question back to teams: Could your team use an extra $12 million in revenue a year?
TMR: We all know the answer to that one.
To view more TMR Q&As, click here.