Optimising for mobile should have been on everybody’s to-do list for at least the past 5 years.  But in 2017, it’s more important than ever.  A mobile-first approach is now necessary for sports rights holders looking to grow and maintain their audience.

If you’re not already thinking mobile, here are 3 reasons why you need to start…

1.  Mobile is where your audience is

Mobile surpassed desktop in internet traffic back in 2014.  Now, two years later, that trend has skyrocketed and looks set to continue on an upwards trajectory.  According to comScore’s 2016 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus report, 61% of consumer traffic to leading U.S. sports websites is now from mobile devices.

Having a strong and dynamic presence on social media is important for any sports rights holder looking to connect with their audience.  In 2016, a whopping 80% of social media time was spent on mobile and mobile users are nearly twice as likely to share content on social networks as desktop users.
How your audience consumes content has changed.  Ooyala’s 2016 Global Video Index states that for video that’s less than five minutes long mobile (52%) is the device of choice as viewers still watch sports highlights, news, events and content designed specifically for the smallest screen.  Desktops (43%), tablets (40%) and connected TVs (7%) follow.

Sports rights holders are beginning to cater for this trend.  The NBA’s ‘Mobile View’ for its popular NBA LEAGUE PASS and FIFA’s new e-game ‘FIFA Mobile’ are two major examples.
The data give us a clear message – it’s no longer a question of the importance of mobile, it’s now a question of how you’re going to put it first.

2.  Mobile is where your audience is going to be

If Millennials aren’t currently the largest demographic in your country, you can bet they soon will be.  They are now the largest living generation in the United States.  It has become essential for sports rights holders to understand this generation and their behaviour – future engagement and revenue depend on it.

One behaviour in particular has become apparent to us – Millennials are overwhelmingly mobile.  In a late 2014 study of smartphone and tablet-owning millennials by Survey Sampling International, nearly 50% of them said they use the mobile internet for four hours every weekday.  What’s more extraordinary is the portion of this generation that is mobile-onlyin 2016.  20% of Millennials, that’s 1 in 5, use only a smartphone to access the internet.

Remember, this generation has been digitally wired since childhood.  Millennials will continue to become a greater percentage of your audience, and you’re going to connect with them on mobile.

3.  Because Google said so

The biggest player in digital is now pushing a mobile-first agenda with both hands.  This means you should be too.  Google recently announced ‘mobile-first indexing’, an algorithm that makes its search engine results pages prioritise mobile-friendly content.  In their own words…

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first…our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site.”

If you haven’t given much thought to prioritising mobile, don’t hit the panic button just yet.  Whilst being a clear pointer to where we’re heading in the digital space, Google’s mobile-first indexing project is still in its infancy.  As long as your digital presence is mobile-friendly there’s no need to put your strategy through the shredder.  Their words again…

“If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.”        

But if you’re reading this and you don’t have a responsive, mobile-friendly site with mobile-friendly content, then now is a good time to make the change and adopt a mobile-first strategy.

If you want to stand a chance in the coming years of growing your audience then make sure you start to eat*, think and dream mobile.  It’s no longer enough for your strategy to be mobile friendly, it needs to be mobile first.  Check out How to make your strategy mobile first in 2017 to learn how you can do it…

* please don’t eat your mobile phone