1. Rugby Union, crosses the line in the USA
The USA's first ever professional Rugby Union competition will kick off later this month, with a new five team competition launching on April 17.
Teams from San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Denver and Obetz have all recruited a handful of international stars to inject some excitement and experience into the competition, whilst hoping it will be a conversation starter. Among the signings is All Black centurion Mils Muliaina who will play for San Francisco, and Melbourne born dual national, Wallabies (Union) and Kangaroos (League) star Timana Tahu who will represent Denver.
ProRugby is relying heavily on social media to break through a crowded US sports market, launching the competition on social with a competition allowing fans to vote for team names. Social media will also be used to explain the game to fans, create intrigue and make followers feel part of the journey.
There are currently limited major sponsors signed across ProRugby and the individual teams, so we will be watching with interest as the sport attempts to seep through the cracks in the US.
2. The Stream Team
Social media is continuing to transform the way we consume and talk about sports. One of the biggest developments in the relationship between sports and social media is the explosion of live streaming in 2016. Teams and leagues have been finding innovative ways to give fans a new insight into game day, while landmark deals are transforming sports broadcasting.
Facebook and the NCAA
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has worked with Facebook to go ‘LIVE’. As part of Facebook’s push to bring live sports to its followers, 23 teams in the national basketball competition provided fans with unique streams of behind the scenes, preparation, locker rooms access and even virtual reality streaming through Oculus technology. More than 100 live streams have been created in total.
Yahoo and MLB
After making a mega dent in their debut live stream of the season opening NFL clash between the Bills and the Jaguars (15.2 million unique viewers to be exact), Yahoo Sports have just announced that they will be broadcasting a Major League Baseball game every day for the rest of the season. That’s right, 180 days of straight MLB free for every internet user.
Twitter and NFL
And finally, Twitter has just signed a 10-game agreement with the rights to stream and broadcast every Thursday night match of the upcoming NFL season narrowly outbidding Amazon, Verizon and Yahoo! And it’s cheap as chips! Twitter paid $10 million for an entire 10-game package.
“Twitter is where live events unfold and is the right partner for the NFL as we take the latest step in serving fans around the world live NFL football”, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
3. Sponsors jump on board with women's sports
In a double win for wins sport and sponsorship this week, the ARU Women’s 7’s team signed first ever women’s-only sponsor Sydney Airport, becoming the major partner for the team heading into the Rugby 7’s Tournament.
And, in AFL, the Sydney Swans have sold front of jersey spot for their women’s squad to Australian haircare brand De Lorenzo.
4. Four n Twenty Pie Stand
In news that's making us hungry, Four n Twenty have commissioned 7,000 of the 50,000 seats at Etihad to be drenched in yellow and black, becoming the first brand to execute a branded zone within the stadium.
The ‘Pie Zone’ will feature a ‘Scratch and Win’ activation during ‘Pie Time’ allowing fans the chance win a pie between the 20 and 24 min mark, if a goal is scored. The pies not claimed will be donated to the Father Bod McGuire Foundation.
5. Facebook's blind ambition
Facebook has announced it will introduce a new feature allowing the blind to experience the platform. The feature, titled Automatic Alternative Text, allows those using a screen reader on any iOS device to hear a list of items a photo may contain using object recognition technology, as they swipe through photos that fill up the daily news feed. Please do yourself a favour and watch the video here.