Publishing is dead, long live the publisher

With domestic European football set to return and the traditionally difficult international break done and dusted for another few months, publishers are preparing for an upturn in traffic once more. But, in a traditionally competitive industry, just how can publishers and rights holders stand out from the crowd in the long term?

Sportradar’s Customer Director for Sports Media, Jonathan Earle, has a few ideas.

Publishing is dead. The Grim Reaper is standing over an industry that is centuries old and that hasn’t adapted to changing market forces.

It’s perhaps an exaggeration but even the most optimistic in the media landscape would struggle to argue against the fact that times have rarely been more difficult and the battle for eyeballs fiercer.

There are new entrants flexing their muscles – whether that be Google, Amazon, Instagram, YouTube, Apple, Twitter, Twitch or Netflix – who are all spending big money and developing new content that is incredibly compelling.

On the other side, there’s the FIFA generation who aren’t watching live sports or consuming sports content via traditional means – instead pushing their own memes and clips via social media platforms, thereby becoming mini publishers in their own right.

To this ‘Instagram generation’, the smartphone is the equivalent of a broadcast truck and an array of pitchside cameras.

All of this, alongside recent front-page headlines in the US regarding job losses in the publishing space, gives the impression that this is but the tip of the iceberg.

Here in Europe, football’s recent international break perhaps encapsulates the difficulties many publishers face in trying to grab attention in the crowded social media space, as well as engage readers once they’re on websites and apps before ultimately monetising that click or visit.

While exacerbated in the absence of domestic top-tier football such as the Premier League and elite level European competition like the Champions League, the struggle for online attention and engagement remains a constant on publishers’ to-do lists.

There is clearly consolidation across the industry and a ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality but publishers remain in a unique position and one that they can exploit with the help of various tools, like those in Sportradar’s media portfolio.

Publishers have to save money and tighten belts but they have a distribution network; they have journalists; they have access to content and they have the tools to consistently reach the different audiences.

With GameBeats, organisations can drive social media interest and extend their brand as far and as wide as is possible, then when the fans are on the page – InHabit keeps them there for longer with bespoke stats, video and gamification, while ad:s allows for a streamlined monetisation process with relevant advertising and sponsorship.

The publisher industry is going through a very tough period but for savvy, innovative and, most importantly in the era of fake news and clickbait, credible publishers, there are new opportunities to make money, leverage assets and work with sports data to provide the modern fan with what they want.

They think publishing’s all over? Not just yet.

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