Periscope moving the goalposts in online fan engagement?

Periscope moving the goalposts in online fan engagement?

The emergence and meteoric rise of social networking sites like Twitter and Vine have completely changed the way in which sports fans consume sport.

The latest news, views, fan opinion and updates are available to us 24/7. But Twitter’s newest offering in social media innovation – though it’s predominantly a rival to live streaming app Meerkat – might just have completely moved the goalposts when it comes to fan engagement.

Periscope allows Twitter users to broadcast live events to their followers, which in turn opens up a whole new avenue of opportunities for both your average Joe on the street and professional organizations and sports teams.

The Premier League is the most watched football league in the world. It is broadcast in over 212 countries to 643 million homes and a TV audience of around 4.7 billion. It’s big business, which is clearly reflected by the recent announcement that Sky and BT Sport have paid a whopping £5.1billion for the rights to broadcast Premier League football for the next three seasons.

But while Periscope is potentially a way for fans to beam live football to their followers directly from the stadium, it’s highly likely that the Premier League, Sky and BT Sport would be very quick in putting measures in place to ensure their investment and rights are not breached.

But what Periscope does offer fans and clubs alike is unprecedented access to behind the scenes coverage on a daily basis. Fans of clubs are always looking for ways to feel closer to their favourite club, and will deservedly want something worthwhile in return for their hard earned cash each and every week, particularly if you’re like me and support West Ham and have to put up with Sam Allardyce.

Talking of West Ham, they have already jumped on the Persicope bandwagon and regularly invite fans to watch the players training live. This is by far a much better way for fans to feel closer to their favourite players, and is a preferable alternative to simply watching a six second vine on loop, for example. You can’t interact with a vine like you can with a Periscope – questions and comments are real time and can be answered in real time. It’s like a whole new pocket TV channel for the masses.

Away from football clubs themselves, even presenters and pundits are giving fans a more detailed insight in to their jobs behind the scenes.

Last week, BT Sport’s Jake Humphrey Periscoped his morning run, where he not only showed his followers the lovely Norfolk, but also a chance to discuss the major talking points from Liverpool’s FA Cup win over Blackburn the night before. Jake answered questions from fans and genuinely made it an engaging chat between himself and those who were remotely interested in seeing Jake answering questions while out of breatch.

It ultimately offered us a chance to have a ‘real’ conversation with someone we wouldn’t normally have the chance to communicate with.

The success of Jack Humphrey’s Periscope’s will undoubtedly stretch to Premier League footballers themselves. There are already so many who engage with fans on a daily basis via Twitter, so it’s only a matter of time before players and clubs start doing Q+A style broadcasts to the masses.

Real time engagement with clubs and players, when they have previously been closed off from the public (to a certain extent), is already proving to be a game changer within the sporting industry.

Live streaming matches, or even just team talks, may never happen due to the financial muscle pumped in to the sport by the likes of Sky and BT Sport. But in an age where the general public crave 24/7 information and entertainment, Persicope really has moved the goalposts when it comes to making previously exclusive content open to absolutely everyone.

By James Jones, Assistant Editor of Football FanCast