Dear the RFL,
As we begin to close the 2017 season, the press and fans are focused on ‘what we can do to improve Rugby League’ and the inevitable answer from the fans is Marketing which leads onto TV advertising.
I disagree, I think we can do other things to help market the game that doesn’t involve TV advertising and would fit within a small < £100,000 marketing budget.
Like any marketing proposal, it needs a clear goal, I’d like us to have a larger and younger viewing audience.
Cultivate an online audience
TV Advertising is the biggest response to the question ‘what can we do when it comes to marketing’ but when, where and why? a 30-second spot in the middle of X-Factor can cost £200,000 and what exactly are you selling in those 30 seconds? Rugby League, Super League, the Challenge Cup?
The season opener advert with Jonny Vegas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAqZxQIqu1g) is a good advert, but it’s a good advert for fans of the sport already.
My suggestion is in three parts;
We look at a selection of sports that have either a similar game structure (grass field, ball, teams, concept of goal) or passionate and large fan base;
- Rugby Union
- American Football
- Ice Hockey
We produce a 2 minute youtube video for each sport that starts with some of the best clips we’ve got from the last few years and explains the similarities between the sports and how certain positions match up, this could be interlaced with video clips of tries, cheering fans, beautiful fans and hits so hard you can hear them in the cheap seats.
This video will run as a video on the end of videos of the specific sports, so after I’ve just watched “rugby union best tries” it’s followed up by an introduction to Rugby League for Rugby Union fans which opens Ryan Hall’s try at Huddersfield for instance.
Upon clicking the video the visitor is taken to a rugby league resource dedicated to the new fan.
Help with introductions to the sport
The first result in google for Rugby League explained is http://www.rugby-league.com/the_rfl/rules, that’s not very helpful.
We need an official area for new fans, introducing basic concepts of the game and answering questions with both text and videos
- What is a fullback / halfback / winger
- What is a 40 20
- What is the Challenge Cup
One of the best explainer videos produced by the RFL has been the Introduction to the Super 8’s – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7bRG_Tg9aI (I go back to every now and then just to remind myself how it works!) but the domain name linked to on that has expired and so there is no follow on to help with further questions.
Make one game regularly available for free
We need a legal way for new fans to be able to see quality full game content without resorting to piracy, it’s too much to ask someone to take out a Sky or Premier sports subscription who isn’t fully sold on the game.
The BBC does an excellent job with the rights they have but that’s less than 10 games a year in most cases and after 30 days that content is never seen again.
I’m not suggesting live streaming of a game for free (at the moment) but is there a deal to be had with Sky for them to have one of the games available for free on a sky sports branded page (with links to buy sky sports of course) from the previous week or two (whereas that game would have little value for them)
Having a match with full high-quality coverage available to the public without a subscription can provide an easy to reach taste of what rugby league is.
This is part one of a small collection of ideas I have that I believe can be practically achieved with a small to medium budget.
Obviously, this post is written without any deep knowledge of budgets and long term partnership contracts
But Money in the sport is limited and to get the level of sponsorship we’d like, our base needs to become wider, the sponsors look at viewership numbers, demographics, and probable ROI, there is a reason that the Rugby Union is sponsored by Land Rover and 02 whilst Rugby League is sponsored by Dacia and Mushy Peas.