How Teams Can Use Social Video Franchises to Tell Unique Stories

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In the sports world, the first instinct when the phrase “new franchise” gets mentioned is to think of an expansion team. But within the movie and television production world — which is starting to bear more and more resemblance to your typical #SMSports operation all the time — the word “franchise” is used, in many cases, to refer to serialized content.

Within the past year or so, sports teams at the collegiate and professional ranks have been exploring this concept with interesting results.

Joe Centeno, art director at Team Infographics, has seen these results firsthand with some of the social media teams that he and TI have worked with in the recent past.

“Fans want access. The more behind-the-scenes action teams can provide, the better,” Centeno said. “It brings them closer and gives them an even closer connection to the team, players, and coaches. Teams also create an opportunity to gain new fans and exposure by these videos easily being shared on all social channels.”

SEE MORE: How Live Video Is Helping Sports Leagues Reach New Audiences

With the rise of shows like HBO’s “Hard Knocks” and Netflix’s “Last Chance U,” the market for serialized behind-the-scenes content has especially shown itself. Following suit, teams are producing their own versions of this, giving fans insight into what it takes to physically prepare for a season of their favorite sport.

A great and recent example of this has been New Mexico State football’s “Uncharted” mini-series which followed the team through training camp and through its first game of the year.

On top of the fantastic visual quality and production value of the show, “Uncharted” has given college football fans some perspective on how the expectations for the program have changed following the team’s first bowl win in decades at the end of last season and becoming an FBS independent. The four-episode series can also be found on New Mexico State football’s Facebook page.

“We’ve seen other departments leverage that emotional connection that fans have with their team,” said NMSU Assistant Director of Marketing Nicole Sack. “This year, we had a really exceptional story to capitalize on.”

NMSU community partner LNG Creative led production of the series with fantastic results. “The ‘Uncharted’ name comes from how we’re figuring out where to go next as a program.”

Meanwhile, Assistant AD for Marketing and Promotions DJ Downs further explained the inspiration for the series’ concept by saying, “We felt like the bowl win last year was really emotional, and that it was something that we could play off to build excitement for this year. The storyline is so natural, and we thought that highlighting where we go next really lent itself to that goal.”

New Mexico State isn’t the only program celebrating a program transition with serial behind-the-scenes content. Oregon State has embraced “The Return” of new head coach Jonathan Smith, who is back in Corvallis after he spent his playing days there and several years as an assistant coach.

The first two episodes have generated a combined 20,000 views on Twitter with more episodes planned throughout the rest of the season.

In addition, the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars have fully embraced this concept by exploring a number of different social video franchises. A look through their YouTube channel will show that they have “Off The Field,”Under The Helmet,” “Mic’DD Up” (sponsored by Dunkin Donuts), and many more that give fans an inside look at the team.

With this content strategy, it’s clear that the Jaguars social and digital media department understand Centeno’s point: The more behind-the-scenes action that teams can provide, the better.

Seasoned social media professionals will tell you that consistency is one of the fastest ways to build an audience. Social video franchises allow teams to do that both from a timing, distribution and content perspective; it’s very similar to how primetime television gets scheduled.

With that in mind, it only makes sense that many organizations are reaping the benefits of altering their programming practices for the future.