How to Cover Sports Games with Real-Time Video

Posted by Bradley Popkin on Nov 30, 2016 10:14:10 AM

Topics: A Word from the Wibbitz Editors


Wibbitz's in-house editorial team creates daily Top Story news videos using our text-to-video Control Room platform. In his guest post, Wibbitz Editor Bradley explains why real-time video coverage is critical for sports publishers - and which video practices work best for each type of sports story.

To say it’s a busy time for the sports industry is an understatement. In North America alone, there are 260 regular season games between three of the primary sports leagues, all happening at once. From the announcement of the starting lineup to the game-winning catch in crunch time, sports publishers are responsible for covering every important aspect of every game that their audiences want to know about, as soon as possible. Even before the final game buzzer is heard, sports fans will already be checking their phones, looking for valuable news content about their favorite players and teams. And what’s the most desirable type of content for sports fans? Video, of course.

Video offers publishers the opportunity to tell stories of triumph and sadness, two emotions synonymous with sports, in ways an article can’t. According to a 2014 study from Sporting News Media, 31% of sports fans watch video highlights online, and 45% use their mobile device as a "second screen". Bleacher Report has more than doubled their Instagram following since January around their real-time, short-form sports video coverage. Their steady increase in popularity on Instagram and other millennial-friendly platforms has allowed the publisher to compete with the ranks of legacy giants like ESPN.

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Now that you know why real-time video is critical for reaching and building a solid fan base, I’ll let you in on some of my own best practices for creating top-performing game coverage. Whether it’s a heart-stopping play, or a recap of a game, style is just as important as substance when it comes to producing a high-quality sports video. And the style will change according to the purpose of your story – the way you showcase a powerful dunk should not be the same way you package a video on statistics.

The following tips will help you master three of the most popular types of sports videos: stats, recaps, and rankings. With these best practices in mind, you’ll be able to cover every game with engaging, digestible videos that will satisfy even the most avid sports fans – and keep them coming back for more.

Player Stats: Let the numbers do the talking

According to a study by Ispos Public Affairs, the number of fantasy sports players grew to 57.4 million in 2016 – and 60% of these players saw their sports news consumption increase once they became involved in their leagues. Fantasy players are clearly making up a large percentage of your fan base, so you should be creating video content that caters to them–with lots and lots of STATS–so they can make important decisions for their upcoming matchup.

When creating videos covering player stats, it’s best to make your numbers pop. I find it helpful to place somewhat transparent footage of the star player in the background, and center large, colorful digits and captions in the foreground. The Wibbitz Control Room’s Text Card feature lets you automatically format your frame in this way, so you can fully emphasize each stat. Check out how I used the Text Card at the 0:27 mark to give Ezekiel Elliott's impressive stats the attention they deserve:


Game Recaps: Ready-set-go

Just like in sports, a few seconds may be all the time you have to score a game-winning goal – or in your case, hold a viewer’s attention. By packaging the most exciting team or player-specific highlights into a post-game recap video, you’ll be able to pique the interest of any sports fan, whether or not they already watched the game live.

For these types of videos, finding the best media is key. It’s also important to find the perfect balance of exciting transitions and text overlays – your main goal should be to entertain and not overwhelm. Set the tone of your video with a clip of the most important player or exciting moment from your featured game. From there, sprinkle in different videos and photos that show off various moments of the game – just make sure you’re switching up the angles. For example, if I’m covering a New England Patriots victory, I won’t show Tom Brady throwing a pass to his right back-to-back. Instead, I would juxtapose his pass with a clip of the team celebrating.

It goes without saying that sports media footage is difficult to obtain for many publishers. That is, unless you have access to the Wibbitz Control Room, where Getty’s and Reuters’ entire media library is at your fingertips. Each of our provider partners have an extensive database filled with up-to-date images and video of players and teams from a multitude of global sports. Check out this Seahawks v. Patriots recap video that I packaged with top-quality Getty and Reuters media, directly from the Wibbitz Control Room:


League Rankings: Stack ‘em up in style

When each round of games comes to a close, rankings are great way to illustrate how teams and players stack up against each other – and list videos are a great way to illustrate rankings. List-style headlines, articles, and videos have proven to drive the most clicks and shares. And by ordering players and teams into a list of rankings, you can successfully repackage content to be opinionated (The 5 Greatest NBA Players of All Time), or statistical (The 5 Most Accurate Shooters in the NBA Right Now).

To make your list video as dynamic and interesting as possible, the media used should invoke emotion, be it nostalgia or excitement. It also must be specific. You can’t truly reminisce about how great New York Giants’ wide receiver David Tyree’s catch was from Super Bowl 42 if you don’t have footage of the exact moment. Here’s a great example of a list-style rankings video I created to lay out this NBA season’s most important talking points:



CASE STUDY: How the Wibbitz Widget Supports USA TODAY Sports Media Group's Video Expansion