A Race for a Younger Audience: What Greyhound Racing Needs
With no offence intended, our sports audience is aging, and one of the key pieces of infrastructure we are lacking is the ability to appeal to a much wider and younger audience.
Watching Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, address the Sport Accord conference in 2018, my ear and eye was drawn. He used his annual talk to discuss the power of marketing and sponsorship, and how to get digitally native youngsters hooked.
“We have to go where the people are, and the people are leading digital lives.” he told the some 2,000 attendees.
He brought out FACTS that hit home on a number of accounts when I view greyhound racing from afar. Some 77% of social media users are under 35, he tells the audience, so why as a sport, are the vast majority of us not digging in to this market?
So it was, that the year’s Sport Accord conference came to be dominated by discussions about picking the right influencers, the merits of user-generated content – and whether millennials have short attention spans or just can’t stand rubbish content. I highlight that because it's a factor I noticed immediately when becoming a fan of the sport back in late 2016.
Driving this obsession is falling TV audience numbers for sporting events, or in our case, the complete loss of Sky Sports racing, and the dwindling track-side audiences.That means looking online, and different sports set out their different approaches.
Spain’s La Liga, also along with F1, are looking to engage new fans through fantasy games which have proven so popular for the likes of the NFL and English football. A lot of us across the UK & Ireland have seen how popular Wayne Allen's 'Pick Me A Winner' tipping competition becomes on Facebook, not only during each countries respective Derby's, but throughout the year.
La Liga also has an aggressive social media platform strategy, including using Telegram to access the football-mad under-30s among Iran’s 70 million-strong population. Could we use a similar strategy to tap in to the US market following their loss of racing in Florida?
The International Hockey Federation wants to put data at the heart of its social media offering, having found its fans love stats almost as much as cricket supporters. Stats certainly have a place in our sport. Greyhound Stats bring us a lot of key data that a lot aren't aware of in regards to trainers, tracks, and individual greyhounds.
On to influencer marketing and it's a key factor we need to be looking in to. There was an acknowledgment from International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre on this issue during the conference, that the need to have others telling your story to be successful is nothing new. Or as he put it: “When Jesus discovered he was going to die he went out and found 12 influencers – and that went pretty well.” A bit extreme in this instance but nonetheless, an example.
Marketing also needs to be socially responsible if we're to reach a new audience. Not only because current fans of racing have increasingly come to expect it, but it also provides opportunities to reach new audiences and find new and exciting ways to partner with brands. So whilst you may be sick and tired of hearing the hosts of RPGTV talk about welfare, or may be dissapointed that the extra £3 million received from the bookmakers will primarily go towards re-homing and not prize-money, think about the bigger picture and the effect this has on the growth of greyhound racing.
You've just read an article stating a number of methods that our sport needs to access if we're to prosper. This isn't just the job of the governing body, or sources of media. The use of online platforms & social media needs to be adopted by ALL trainers, ALL tracks, and ALL businesses in our sport. It's time to get to work!