How Sky is pushing beyond TV with more branded social video

Football clubs are rethinking live-video strategies.

Sky is pushing further into social video after snapping up content-production company Diagonal View.

With the deal, Sky can reach younger audiences and increase its social video branded-content capabilities, starting with Sky Sports. Previously, the broadcaster has run high-production value, branded-content campaigns across TV, with supplementary elements on digital platforms. While running one of these a month could bring in approximately £1 million ($1.3 million), with Diagonal View, which runs social channels including “Football Daily,” Sky can produce 10 or more social media campaigns a month.

“Doing more at a lower level and with a faster turn around, it becomes a volume versus scale point,” said Jamie West, Sky’s group director of advanced advertising. “We can respond to briefs from agencies that aren’t such high-ticket sponsorship deals. The opportunity is there to work with brands in an agile, fast turnaround, possibly less-high-production way. This end of the spectrum has been the missing piece of the puzzle.”

Of Sky’s annual turnover, a relatively small percentage comes from branded content. “But it’s a growing part of the market that we need to operate in,” he said. It’s clear why: Recent forecasts predict social video ad spend will double in 2017 to over $4 billion (£3.2 billion).

Diagonal View creates 30 videos a week across entertainment, music and football, and has around 100 employees based in its central London offices. The group won’t be moving to sit under the same roof as Sky, but the broadcaster instantly benefits from the increase in creative resource and access to Diagonal View’s network of content creators. Each company will be keeping its own clients and continue to sell their existing properties but will cross-pollinate when it comes to future sales.

Previous cross-platform campaigns for Sky Sports include Budweiser’s “Dream Goal,” where the broadcaster ran a competition to find the best amateur goal scored. On Facebook, video footage of the winning goal had 295,000 views, on YouTube the same video has had nearly 400,000 views.

Another cross-platform, long-running campaign, Carling’s “In Off The Bar,” a post-football match analysis with celebrity guests and pundits, regularly gets around 20,000 views on YouTube. West said these resonate on digital, but is gunning for more growth.

Diagonal View’s channel Football Daily, with 1 million YouTube subscribers, has honed content that flies with viewers. It produces regular series of about 15 minutes long, like “Top 10 football clubs that were saved by fans,” led by static images and graphics, and “Winners and Losers,” where two presenters discuss player transfers between clubs. Views consistently reach several hundred thousand.

Sky Sports still has a sizable social following. On Facebook, Sky Sports had 42 million video views on February, according to Tubular Labs. Sky Sports is also in the top quarter of U.K. publishers for repeat audience on Snapchat Discover. On YouTube, Sky Sports’ main channel, Soccer AM, has 400,000 subscribers.

“It’s about sharing best practice,” said West. “We want to learn how they have been so successful in growing their user base from a standing start to 15 million regular subscribers. When we sat down with Matt [Heiman, founder of Diagonal View] and the team, they were always very adept at understanding what is resonating with the audience, where they will update a piece of content or create something new to drive engagement.”

Image: courtesy of Sky Sports, via Facebook.

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