Twitch invasion

At various points during reading this you’ll probably think that I’m a massive nerd.  That’s fine, I accepted it long ago.  I’m comfortable with it.  So with that out of the way….

I was watching a documentary about professional video gamers the other day.  It was interesting and bewildering in equal measure – a secret other realm in which people don’t finish games of Call of Duty with a 1 kill, 22 deaths score (I was tired, sitting at a funny angle to the TV and I think the batteries in my controller were dying).

During this documentary (which is still on iPlayer by the way), there was a fascinating section on the video game streaming service Twitch.  Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with Twitch, you need to start getting familiar with it.  Especially if you work in or around (cc Andy Townsend) digital media.

Check out these stats and you’ll see what I mean.

So whether you think streaming and watching people playing video games is weird or not is irrelevant.  It’s massive, and getting bigger.

And the big thing for me here is how it essentially cuts out the middle man.  The content creators become the broadcasters and the viewers completely and totally pick their own schedules.  It’s time-shifted viewing on steriods.

Just think of how this model could affect the landscape of all broadcast media in future, and of sport in particular.  Will the traditional broadcasters still hold all of the cards, still control the access to the viewer and will the rights deals of the future still look the same?  How will the balance of power shift?  And how will this differ down the “tiers” of sports properties – including sports, leagues and individual clubs (or even athletes)?

I don’t know.  Stop asking me.  All I do know is that anyone who isn’t at least thinking of this new future should be feeling, well, twitchy.

Corp Blimey

Sport isn’t getting any less important.  I’ve talked about this before.

Soon, every bit of media people consume will be on their own time.  TV schedules will mean nothing and the importance of channels will diminish as your Sky Planner (or whatever) becomes your channel.

So the fact that sport means people all want to watch the same thing at the same time will provide something fairly unique for advertisers.  And its importance will grow and grow.

So the mega-bucks gazillionaire corporations are going to continue to be drawn to it.  To own it.  They start with one or two clubs as you see now with organisations like Fenway Sports Group owning the Red Sox and Liverpool.  Then they’ll pluck a basketball team here, and an American Football team there.

Or, like the owners of Man City, they’ll hoover up a few clubs of the same sport in different countries.

So where does this end up?  I think it will end with the entirety of global top level sport being owned and controlled by 25-50 companies, all owning dozens of clubs across multiple sports – sharing brand and resource of all kinds.

I think we’ll also see the first pan-sport superstar as soon as he can be crafted in some lab somewhere.  A bit like when Hulk Hogan tried boxing in Rocky 3.


Stop trying to make me speak to actual people

There is an ideological divide in B2b Marketing between those who let their information roam free and those who lock it in a cage, only to be released on submission of a dozen data fields.

It’s my contention that the second approach, the “you want it, you give me your email address” is completely contrary to how modern B2b buyers want to buy things.

Using myself a focus group of one:

– If I’m researching vendors for a product or service I want to buy I want to read, study and view as much stuff as I can before even speaking to another person.

– When I’ve done this, I’ll form opinions about a few of them and create a shortlist.

– When I’m pretty damn knowledgeable about the whole subject, I’ll then engage with my preferred couple of vendors.

So, I’ve basically done most of the navigation of your “funnel” myself.  I’ve started as a lead, moved myself into being a prospect, and qualified myself – all without you even knowing I’m interested in that service.

Now imagine you’re a vendor at the initial stage of that process and you want me to fill in a form (for someone to get back to me…eek) at the start.  It’s an immediate no.  I’ve already moved on.  I’m not ready to be sold to by you yet.  And I’m not losing any sleep over not reading your sales documentation – I’m busy forming an attachment to your competitor by hoovering up all of their materials, following them on social media and generally learning about them.

So – create good marketing materials, in different formats that I can consume in different types across different media.  And do it about good products that you don’t have to apologise for, and that don’t have cracks that marketing needs to paper over.

And once you’ve done that, set them free.  No gateways, no data harvesting, nothing that you qualify as a lead but we all know isn’t anything of the sort.

And then wait for your prospects to be ready.  Then, sell.

Love you long time

It’s a pretty well established fact that people’s attention spans are shortening.

(Wait, come back)

Content is becoming more and more bite sized and these young whipper snappers are dotting from thing to thing, consuming different types of media at the same time on different devices.

But we’ve not yet seen this change in viewer habits translate to how sport is pitched as a product (other than cricket, which has gone from banquet-sized Test matches to 3-course-meal sized Twenty20).

In 20, 30, 50 years time, will sport still be asking people to sit down and watch it for two hours? Or will the winners in the next millennium in sport be the ones who shrink it to fit new audience habits?


Limited edition

Bizarrely, I’m sure there used to be more scarcity.

Things used to be a must-have or a must-attend or a must-watch by the sheer fact there wasn’t many of them.

A sold out gig or comedy tour will invariably add more dates.  A blockbuster film will now always be the start of a franchise. A video game’s launch will be followed weeks later by some extra downloadable content.  A University will add more degree programmes rather than reject students.  Christmas used to be one day, then one week, then one month, now it is a trade fair that lasts for a quarter of every year.  Even Halloween is something that now lasts for weeks rather than hours.

Nowadays, everyone always defaults to more.

Scale is more important than cool.

Cool takes discipline.  It takes saying no to the money.  It takes leaving some people locked out.  It takes leaving demand unfulfilled.  And that discipline, it seems, is getting harder and harder.


It’s hard these days for me to get to watch the football team I grew up supporting.

It’s a bit of a trek to get there, expensive to get in, and I have two young kids so can’t always get the sign off.  So the club isn’t getting the ticket dosh off me that it used to.

I’m in my late 30s so I’m not going to buying and wearing a replica shirt – doesn’t do much for me these days.  So the club isn’t getting the merchandise dosh it used to either.

But I still give a shit about the club and the team.  

I can’t watch the matches through an online season ticket because that facility isn’t available.  I would pay for that.  I can’t listen to the live match commentary on the local radio online because I don’t live in the area and that service is geo-locked.  I wouldn’t pay for that, but you can advertise to me if you want.

I can’t be alone in this.  I actively want more engagement with my club, and am happy to pay for it if the product is good enough.

So: how do clubs make money from people like me still giving a shit?

Rock, DJ

Having spent the last few years trapped in a tsunami of email, I recently read a book on workplace productivity.

I’ll tackle that subject on another day, but suffice to say it’s transformed my life.  The book is called How to be a Productivity Ninja, by a guy called Graham Alcott, if you’re interested.

A lot of the tips and techniques in that book have really helped me out but aside from that, there was one phrase in the book that I really liked.

Graham talks about using social media, notably Twitter as a way to short-cut your route to interesting and helpful information. He talks about it in terms of using other people to help you get to the stuff you want, without having to search and search through all the mountains of other stuff.

His approach – use Twitter for information in the same way that you used to use radio stations for music.

The people you follow become your “Information DJs” – you select them over time and they add value to your life by saving you time and connecting you with the relevant stuff from the world around you.

Lovely phrase that – Information DJs, totally nails it.