• Rasmus Hallbäck

The Second Screen Experience During Live Sport - Facebook and Twitter

Did you know that approximately 70% of people watching TV simultaneously use a second screen to keep themselves occupied/entertained? And if you count desktops, laptops, and tablets as well, over 91 percent of internet users are expected to use a second screen while watching TV this year. From a statistical point of view, you are more than likely to be one of the people browsing their phone or tablet whilst watching TV than one just focusing on one screen. Maybe you’re looking up information on the thing you just heard on TV, checking your emails or just playing some mobile game to keep yourself occupied in-between commercial breaks – regardless of the reason, what you are experiencing is the so called second screen.


In today’s smartphone and tablet age, it’s hardly a secret that companies around the world are doing their best to reach their existing customers as well as potential new ones online through various social media channels. Sports teams are naturally no different and, as stated in this blog many many times, sport teams constantly jostle for position to stand out from the continuous flood of content that is social media. Be it Facebook or Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, much like companies from any other sector, sports teams are highly dependent on successfully reaching and engaging their fans across the various social media channels.


Whatever the reason or case for involving a second (or even third) screen to your viewing experience, for many, this has become the norm when consuming entertainment on our TVs. Naturally, the second screen has also had an impact towards how sport fans consume live sports – so, without further ado, let’s take a quick look and discuss the use of Facebook and Twitter, as companions to add to the experience of watching live sports – the so called second screen experience.

Live Sports and Social Media

For many fans, Twitter has become the go-to social media platform for people using a second screen to enhance the experience. That being said, Facebook is still in many ways a highly relevant channel (just look at the picture below and the amount of potential people the clubs have the potential to reach).

Not that long ago, it was even beginning to look like Facebook, would become a major player in the live sports broadcasting, but as it turned out, this was not to be – at least for the time being. With reports coming in that Facebook is pulling back its focus on investing in live sports, it’s completely possible that the social media giant noticed the investment needed wasn’t aligned with how the sporting community was willing to change its viewing habits. As it turns out, most fans felt that their respective teams’ social media feeds were sufficient and weren’t interested in pivoting from TV to sport streamed on social media (naturally, this still exists.).


For the time being, it looks like the Facebooks and Twitters of the world are better suited to act as companions to live sports (broadcasters and rights holders included), rather than being the end destination. In other words, sports teams and their social media channels have the power to improve the viewing experience of the fans and that in itself, makes it highly relevant for sport teams and advertisers respective marketing efforts.

Differences Between Facebook and Twitter as Companions

So, what is the key difference of Facebook and Twitter when using them as a second screen companion to live sports? Well, and this might be quite obvious, it’s the ways the algorithms work. While Twitter is best suited for quick, real time updates, Facebook posts tend to have a somewhat longer shelf life due to how the system works. This has led to the one key difference, namely that Twitter has become the social media platform where people log on during live entertainment and larger sporting events. This is evident by the numbers, which sees Twitter having an over 4% increase in visitors whilst other social media platforms don’t.


As second screen experience for most sports fans means having a smartphone at the ready whilst watching a game – the second screen experience can mean a bunch of different things. Instantly watching a highlight or getting up to date stats from the latest shift by one’s favourite player – the second screen experience should be varied enough to cater to a relatively wide audience, which naturally opens up both possibilities but also certain expectations towards the type and quality of content. This can be difficult and time consuming without a plan. That being said, knowing your fanbase and being flexible enough to change and adapt certainly goes a long way.


Having a good relationship with your fans on social media enables you to engage your audience in ways that actually matter. Naturally, this requires interacting with your fans on not only a regular basis, but by also asking questions and responding to comments, across all of your sports teams’ social media platforms.

Make a Game Plan for Increasing Engagement During Games

For sports teams with a limited budget or a smaller team in charge of social media communication (if there even is a team), focusing on providing live content as a companion to live games might feel like a daunting task. In Anchor’s view, it doesn’t have to be like that. Like most things in life, a little planning goes a long way. Below are a couple of short and cost-efficient tips to help you get started.


1. Go Live

With Facebook, you can go live at any time. This means that you have the power to engage your fans on their second screen by giving them something “extra” By leveraging the limited time content features on social media (stories) sports teams can give fans behind the scenes content, such as short interviews from players and staff, or videos capturing the atmosphere from the bench.


2. Fan / Player Takeovers

Sure, this can be done at any point of time and doesn’t need a game to work, but there is definitely value in using some players who aren’t dressed during the game to add some extra flavour to your social media feeds and provide their real time commentary from the game.

The same goes for fans. Why not give a lucky fan the possibility to take over the team’s social media feed for a brief time? (you might want to monitor this closely though…)


3. Feature Fans

Goes without saying, but make sure to follow your hashtags during the game and pick up on relevant tweets about the game. This is basically free content and keeps your fanbase engaged. Also, try to stay as active as possible during game time and


4. Contests and Polls

Why not arrange contests mid-game on Facebook or Twitter? Ask who’s going to score the next goal or perhaps ask fans to vote for the man of the match. Regardless – these types of small and engaging types of content brings fans closer to the team and is popular across all age groups.

COVID-19 and Live Sports

The global pandemic has forced the hand of many organisations and made them innovate. Trying new things on social media to keep the fanbase happy and engaged during a time when for many teams having actual fans in the stands is heavily reduced, if not completely impossible, is almost a given. With games being played at empty stadiums, the second screen experience can dramatically enhance the viewing experience and, for sports teams and sponsors looking to earn back some of the lost revenue, new revenue models will most likely emerge. This effectively means that sports teams now, more than ever, have the opportunity to build and enhance their direct connections with their fanbase online while pushing the envelope as to what live sports can entail.


As an example, during most current Premier League games, a lot of stadiums feature giant screens visible to the TV-cameras. These screens feature up to 16 supporters selected from each club to be part of a live video fan wall in the stadium during a game. The NHL went a similar route during their playoffs. During the NHL playoffs, fans were able to send in videos of them celebrating on their couch while watching the game – and by that making the second screen experience an interactive one.


For more detailed tips on social media in sport, be sure to check out our guide to content marketing.


Anchor is a boutique sports business advisory firm focused on increasing the organisational competitiveness of sport clubs, organisations, and federations. Contact us today to take your first step towards a more competitive future.


Anchor Sport Business Advisors AB | Koronakatu 5 A 4, 02210 Espoo, Finland | Telephone +358 40 502 5132 | contact@anchorsportadvisors.com 

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