2020 NFL draft: Virtual fan engagement soars with remote draft parties
As the virtual NFL draft gets underway, franchises are getting creative with remote fan engagement.
The 2020 NFL draft got underway last night, but not like it ever has done before. With social distancing measures in place across the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic, everything was done remotely.
For the first time, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell presented the event in a studio by himself. Franchise war rooms were online video conferences, and every player was at home, undoubtedly with their eyes glued to their phone, willing for it to ring.
However, the draft isn’t just about the players. The league, and several of its franchises, needed to craft creative ways to promote virtual fan engagement during the draft.
The challenge is to take the usual draft party experience and host it online. It needs to be focused on the community, it needs to be highly interactive, and most importantly it needs to be live.
Watch-a-long parties from home
Individual franchisees took remote steps to engage fans across digital platforms during the draft.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals hosted host remote draft watch parties on social media.
Broadcasting from their own homes, these teams were able to add value for their fans watching the draft while creating a more specific forum for fans to discuss their side.
The 49ers delivered its live party in partnership with Levis, featuring a live DJ set, player interviews and immediate reaction as they drafted Defensive Tackle Javon Kinlaw.
The whole broadcast was optimized for fans across digital platforms, bringing in fan content from Instagram and running live polls to give fans a chance to participate. The 49ers also used branded graphics to promote season ticket sales. The most successful live social content is created with fans at its heart, and let them drive the conversation as much as possible.
Across all three franchises, fans flocked to the comments sections to give their opinions and discuss the draft with each other. While most of the world is staying at home, NFL teams have been able to bring fans together to celebrate football.
NFL draft-a-thon drives virtual fan engagement
The NFL recognized the opportunity to drive virtual fan engagement by supplementing its coverage with live analysis and reaction from celebrity fans and NFL personalities.
The league is hosting a live draft-a-thon every day for the duration of the draft. The draft-a-thon is broadcast to YouTube and the NFL website in conjunction with the draft, aiming to drive donations for COVID-19 relief efforts in the US.
Guests appear remotely via a Zoom call, and discuss their opinions on picks and hopes for their team during the draft. The broadcast is hosted by Rich Eisen and Deion Sanders, and day one guests included Tom Brady, Kevin Hart and DJ Khaled.
Much like a live NFL game, fans will take to social media want to share their opinion and discuss the action with the wider community in real time. By providing a platform that also includes famous faces and trusted analysis, the NFL was able to deliver a broadcast that added real value to the draft experience for its fans. The league ensured the broadcast was highly accessible, and included a level of interactivity that kept fans watching.
As the NFL and its teams find their feet in this new draft format, we’re likely to see more quality content for fans to enjoy over the next two days. The opportunities for virtual fan engagement have never been higher, while its importance has never been greater. Just ask the Arizona Cardinals how it’s done!
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