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Senior Tech Publicist
James Paasche

Playing the Social Game: How Pro Sports Leagues Manage Content

There’s a hotly contested competition on social media channels and video platforms between the established U.S. professional sports leagues. The NFL, MLB, and NBA are vying for sports fans’ attention, formulating unique game plans when it comes to social video, and trying every move from takedowns to local channel ownership to viral-ready highlights. 


Pex, the video analytics specialists who use fingerprinting to catch super-short snippets of video and audio across social media platforms, have taken a close look at the leagues’ content and how it travels and spreads--and what this says about the sport, its management, and the fans who love it. 


MLB content appears most prevalent on short-form platforms like Instagram and Twitter, likely because highlights are a favorite way to enjoy key moments in a game. MLB has shown more openness and flexibility when it comes to shares, taking down only 7.33% of league content. “MLB has given teams and individual players lots of leeway and opportunities to share video,” Wilson Hays of Pex notes. “With content owners encouraging user-generated uploads, it enables more opportunities for fan interaction and higher engagement as a result.” 


Takedowns don’t necessarily disable the spread of popular videos. The NFL leads in takedowns, slapping notices on 21.09% of videos featuring its content. The NBA ranks a fairly close second, with a 14.33% takedown rate. That said, short sports videos are everywhere; the footprint and reach that the NFL & NBA have drive 3x as many views and 8x as many derivative  videos (a view of any copy of an original video upload) in comparison to MLB based on the top content from each of the sports leagues so far in 2019. “Sharing videos is a currency of fan culture, and each sport league has a distinct perspective on this relationship with their audience,” reflects Hays. 


There’s also a generational factor suggested by where derivative video appears, the general demographic trends of each social platform. Facebook, where many older fans are active, is a popular re-upload destination for baseball and football fans, hosting 34.89% of MLB views from derivative videos and 40.57% of the NFL’s derivative video views. Most of the derivative video views for basketball happen on YouTube. “This is an important dynamic to keep in mind,” Hays says. “The volume of re-uploaded videos doesn’t always correlate with view counts. Content owners need to embrace audience trends for each platform and interact accordingly.” 


Sports-related videos prove popular across all big social and video platforms, without dominating any of them, unlike the love affair between music and YouTube, for example. Fans have yet to find their go-to platform to watch or share or reupload, making it an exploratory time for content owners to act strategically with each platform based on their audience’s intent. Hays concludes, “Focusing on your owned and operated content or a single platform only gives you a narrow perspective of the data narrative. To truly understand any video’s reach, you have to follow the sprawling threads of uploads across all platforms to make informed decisions about managing your social content and interacting appropriately with your audience.”


About Pex

Pex delivers independent video and music analytics and rights management services to enable creators, rights holders and marketers to find, measure, and leverage the value of content across the Web. It can find snippets as short as 0.5 seconds across dozens of platforms worldwide. Clients include major music companies, video rights holders, and other key content producers and administrators. For more information, please visit