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Sports fans are driving the digital media revolution

The Power of Passion

BIRGing and CORFing might sound like embarrassing bodily functions, but they're actually psychological insights of sports fan culture. Basking In Reflected Glory (BIRG) and Cutting Off Reflected Failure (CORF) are just two of the behaviours associated with sports fan psyche revealing the deeper human urges that drive the multi billion pound sports industry.  

Without BIRGing you wouldn't have that wonderful community spirit that unites sports fans throughout the year and regardless of the team's successes or failures. Susan Krauss Whitbourne PHD explains BIRG on Psychology Today:

 "When your team is doing well, you feel great. Research shows that on the day after a team's win, people feel better about themselves." 

Sports psychology professor Daniel Wann told The Huffington Post that being a sports fan can lead to higher levels of well-being and happiness, lowering levels of loneliness and alienation. The author of the book Sport Fans: The Psychology And Social Impact Of Spectators insists that:

people are looking for ways to identify with something, to feel a sense of belonging-ness with a group of like-minded individuals.” 

Sports industries are always looking for better ways to harness the power of fandom. The Sports Technology Awards categories reflect the importance of fan engagement, favouring recognition for technological advances in audience engagement (Best App, Best Fan Engagement Tech, Best Tech to Promote Participation) over the sector of performance enhancement.

The biggest innovations are happening in video technologies and digital media, the two areas with the most potential for fan engagement. Televised broadcasting is still the most popular format, far outweighing mobile and social media platforms. While streaming and on-demand platforms have impacted the television industry, live sports continues to buck this trend thanks to the dedication of fans. Sporttechie.com reveals that Premier League rights were sold to Sky and BT Sport for over £5bn and the most recent NBA deal with Turner set new records at $23bn over ten years.

Paul Ringsell, Director at Beyond, says "simply watching the action on TV is not enough anymore." Media aggregators are finding ways to improve engagement and increase revenue opportunities, "For real-time engagement and information, Twitter is the first place that people turn for updates"  says Gareth Capon of Grabyo. He believes that "rights holders want to develop a global fan base which means content needs to be accessible to fans; the best way to do this is to provide access to content where fans already spend their time."

The Drum reports that Sky Sports is incorporating fan content into their advertising campaigns for the first time for the 2016 Ashes. Again, it's the community of fans and their true passion for their team that make these campaigns work, the head of Sky sports marketing Catherine Parsons explains “It will bring us all together and our Sky Sports campaign is about capturing that mood of the nation". 

Business media company The Innovation Enterprise is holding a sports panel session called Leveraging Loyalty: Fan Engagement as a Strategic Advantage, where they aim to share intel about  "Creating and maintaining a culture of fandom is an essential challenge facing all clubs, leagues and sports". 

"This culture already exists" says Paul, "fans have been doing their thing for eons without the help of aggregators, agencies and executives. The simple human desire to belong is what lies beneath this glorious and idiosyncratic culture of sports fandom. Tapping into that wealth of passion and strength of feeling is the exciting part."