Over my past 5 years at SoCast I've spent a lot of time both building websites and looking at terrible ones. One of the biggest trends I've noticed is how easily website creators skip over the most basic needs of their visitors. Sports Radio is in an extremely unique position in that it has the opportunity to be a one stop shop for local sports as well as provide in-depth coverage and analysis on major sports news.
Here are 5 basic elements that I look for on every Sports Radio Website:
1. Sports Scores
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many websites, especially in the smaller markets don't have sports scores prominently displayed or even at all. There are many score widgets you can pay for, but within 5 minutes I was able to successfully create an account and create multiple score widgets with Score Stream. Not only was Score Stream easy to use, but it also allowed me to create multiple score widgets for different teams and types of sport. It also offered US Highschool basketball, football etc, as well as popular European and UK teams like Manchester United. All I had to do after filling in the parameters was embed the iframe code onto my site.
2. Top Headlines
Your visitors are coming to find out more about the story, play or injury. They've seen the headlines, and now they're trusting that you're going to have up-to-date, reliable information. If you don't have a full-time dedicated sports writer on your staff, one great way around this is to embed an RSS feed. Doing a quick search, I found multiple public RSS feeds for various sports, teams and major sports outlets that you could add to your site. Another option is micro-blogging by creating blogs with a short paragraph and/or image and then linking to the original source or trending article. This saves you time, but also ensures that you continue to be source for up-to-date information. Here at SoCast we also offer a custom tool called an Activity Stream that brings content and conversation together, by allowing you to combine multiple social channels and listener submitted photos and comments. If you're not one of our clients, you can create a more basic version of this by embedding whole Twitter feeds (i.e. ESPN's feed) onto your site for a constant stream of fresh, instant content.
3. Rich Media
Now that you've got your sports scores and headlines, you're going to want to provide your visitors with bonus material. I think of this as 'Watch' and 'Listen'. Do you have material for your visitors to watch? This could include Facebook live videos, Instagram videos, local sports footage, in studio interviews, play-by-plays etc. If you don't have the time or the skills to create your own content, you can find a library of professionally shot footage on YouTube provided by major sports outlets like ESPN. Most of these outlets update their YouTube channels at least once a day, or every hour with highlights, behind the scenes and more. For most CMS providers, you'll just need to copy and paste the YouTube link or use the embed code to add the videos to your site. For 'Listen' material, there are a host of clips, podcasts, interviews etc. publicly available on Soundcloud, iHeart Radio, Fox Sports etc. Again, you just need to grab the shareable embed code and voila! you now have listenable content. Something else that I haven't looked too far into yet, but that I know is coming is more publicly accessible live feeds. Facebook just signed a deal with the MLB to live stream 25 games this year, and Twitter also frequently live streams NFL, so we'll want to keep an eye on that as potential bonus content.
4. Local Sports
This is a big one. As a small or medium market (even as a large market) you can't compete with websites like ESPN for major sports coverage. However, where you can shine is local sports. Become a hub for your community by promoting and sharing sports content for your Province or State teams and then work your way down to local Elementary, High School, College/University etc. Content can include sports scores, but also in-depth pieces and interviews with local sports celebrities, weekly or monthly features (i.e. Coach Of The Week, play of the week), local sports history, fundraisers or charity events etc.
5. Dedicated Sport/Team Sections
Most sports fans are not only dedicated to a type of sport, but to a team, and want to be able to easily access news, media and coverage specific to who they're interested in. So, if you have the time and skills, a great asset to your website would be dedicated sections. You could divide the sections either by sport (MLB, NFL, NBA etc.) or even further by team. If you're based out of Toronto for example, then you may want to have dedicated sections to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, and Toronto Blue Jays. These sections could then include draft news, deals, game information, special local events, polls, etc. specific to that home team, and separate from the rest of your site.
By implementing some or all of the above tips and using trial and error to determine what your listeners and website visitors want, you'll be able to create a better digital experience for them, as well as determine more specific monetization options for your website and mobile app moving forward.
With that in mind, are you doing everything that you can to grow your radio stations in digital in 2018? You need to be taking advantage of all the digital channels and audience engagement opportunities and more if you expect to connect with your audiences in digital and increase digital revenue at your stations. Talk to a SoCast Specialist today to learn how you can grow your brands in digital.