“A lot of our planning from a content perspective was how do you give the feeling and the energy that it’s an exciting game if there are no fans there?” said Tyler Steinhardt, Director of Marketing at the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). It’s a challenge that nobody thought they would have to deal with a year ago, but it’s one that Steinhardt and the PLL faced head-on with tremendous success.
Averaging over 153,000 viewers across 14 combined broadcasts in the 2020 Championship Series, the PLL saw an increase in viewership of 33% over the 2019 inaugural season in large part because of their interactive programming tactics1.
Steinhardt sat down with us to talk about the keys to success in PLL’s programming on both the broadcast and social channels. The experience he gained and ideas he came away with is something that all producers and marketers can draw inspiration from.
On what fans responded to best:
“For us, we collectively were thinking from the get-go of how to create fun ways to get folks involved. So for example, we mic up our players on the field, and during the action, one of the best performing tweets was ‘hey, tweet your question, and you might have your question be asked to a player on the field’. And that was some of the fun interactivity that we had,” Steinhardt said.
On the response from fans to specific calls-to-action:
“The PLL audience and fanbase is really active and engaged...when we say ‘hey, snap a picture of your TV, or what’s your setup,’ people engage. And they often do so because we retweet, we like, and we share it on the broadcast. We were able to get a couple thousand tweets on TV over the course of the tournament, which creates a collective atmosphere like we’re watching together, which makes it a lot more enjoyable,” Steinhardt said.
“That’s probably the toughest thing that we’re missing without live sports, is that feeling of big moments or the shared collective energy of watching, and so when we do something like the #TwitterTailgates or the PLL watch party, it brings it together with everyone sort of collectively coming together and enjoying, talking, and watching PLL at the same time.”
The biggest piece of advice to give someone working in a bubble atmosphere:
“If there are technical issues and challenges you can’t account for, sometimes being stoic and not getting too low at any point is really important,” Steinhardt said. “We had some crazy things happen during our Championship Series. At one point, a fuse melted underground and the entire facility lost power, at one point there was a triple-overtime hockey game that pushed back our TV window. So I think that the patience, especially in today’s age when you’re short-staffed because of COVID-19, or there are social distancing issues, is really important.”
On tactics the PLL started this year that will carry on beyond 2020:
“I think there is more opportunity to bring fans into the program than we thought,” Steinhardt said. “With COVID-19, we were just pushing out content whenever we had it, and I think that’s something we’ll carry on in the future too since fans are always ravenous for more and more access.”
You can check out the full conversation below, but here are our biggest takeaways:
- Be deliberate in your call-to-action with a clear ask to your audience
- Reward your audience for engaging by liking, sharing, and incorporating their content in the programming
- Provide as much access as possible, whether that’s to the players in a game, or to the talent on screen
- Give your audience a voice and let them dictate the programming through polling or Q&A segments
Looking to collaborate on more interactive programming ideas? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @Tagboard!