Super Bowl 2017 Coverage Strategies for Non-Game Carrying Stations

If you don’t have the Super Bowl, what options do you have against such a ratings juggernaut?

Ignore or Attack
Your team can decide if you are simply going to ignore this planned breaking news event that is of such a magnitude, it changes the spending patterns and the waistlines of many of your viewers, or you can decide how to be part of the coverage and conversations and attack across all screens.  There are four phases that your team can compete around.  

Obviously, if your team is in the Super Bowl your planning will operate on a magnitude not spoken to in this post.  For ideas on how to cover your local NFL team if you are not carrying the game, speak to your SmithGeiger consultant.)

1. Before The Game
The lead up to the game is a weeklong plus set of breaking news stories.  You can use them to enhance the reputation of your station for owning breaking news and for your sports talent being the leading sports voices in your region.  You can also position yourself as the local breaking news leader in general and in particular with weather should that be a factor in your area in the hours leading up to the game.   If there is any weather in the region, be aware of the opportunities to do a live news cut in on air and on social/digital since the station carrying the pre-game will be reluctant to break in all day due to the advertising dollars that could be lost.  Attack by staffing so that you can do extended local news cut-ins if local breaking news or weather merits it.

2. During The Game
The good news is that people are watching live local TV.   This means that people are home and have the TVs on… and that you are one click away should the game become boring and/or a blowout.  Position yourself to do plenty of social and digital outreach, particularly during each and every commercial break. As social and search trends develop, your team can leverage the conversations around those topics for three purposes.   You might have better content that you could use to win the social and digital second screen war you are fighting during the game.  You might have a bigger social media voice and can drown out the Fox station’s social media.  You might have hot zips that you specifically want to speak about to encourage after the game channel changing.

3. During Half Time
Planning half time social and digital the moment it begins can also be a solid strategy.  You know that millions will be looking at their smart phones as the break before half time starts.  You can create better content around themes like the half time show and other moments and draw people to your digital platforms.  The viewers can express what they thought of the half time show on your social as well as any other social voice out there.  The engagement you have around an article or post that you do around the Super Bowl can provide people with a reason to watch your air that night or the next morning. 

You can be fully engaged across all social platforms with engaging posts for your local viewers on Twitter (do several tweets in the first five minutes of the half time break), on Facebook (do a paid post targeting fans of the Fox station), on Instagram (which last year was used more vs. Twitter during the game according to one measurement), YouTube (people go there to watch the ads), and on Snapchat (where you can snap a local news update).  If your sports team wants to be particularly aggressive, they can do a Facebook live breakdown of the game so far or you could do your own streaming special coverage of fans from restaurants and bars around the region.

4. After The Game
The moment the game ends, the viewer is free for other viewing choices particularly given the long break structure as the game ends and sometimes meaningless post game analysis and interviews.  You have to decide if you are going to attack the moment the game ends and encourage the channel change.  There are three opportunities the moment the coaches shake hands.

We recommend that you have several posts for social congratulating the winning team, congratulating the other team, the MVP, the winning coach, and any local players or coaches who might be on the teams involved.  You can become the best place for people to share their feelings about the game that just concluded and with that effort, speak to them about what you have of value on air that night and the next morning. 

We also recommend that you have a set of local news and weather posts ready to saturate the second screens during the minutes following the game. This plan can include a strategy of breaking news coverage on all screens immediately following the final moments, or it could be a strategy of specific pointing to your newscasts.   You can do a Facebook Live and a possible special end of Super Bowl local newscast to intercept audiences, particularly if there is any breaking news or weather in the region.

You can also continue to take advantage of all of the trending topics and big game moments.  As the game ends, you are free to be the owners of the big stories around the game as you no longer risk creating any tune (if your station is worried about such).   The best and worst ads, the biggest moments of the game, the half time performance reaction, and the behavior of the winning and losing fans all become your stations story to own on all screens.  Your team can commit to owning the Super Bowl from that moment on and use that content to outperform the Fox station in social, digital and on air.

Finally, your morning news should be ready with a plan to intercept all of the viewers who had the TV on.  This means a concentrated effort in social and digital to remind people to watch your station and a quality newscast that recognizes that most of your viewers were watching TV for much of Sunday. 

We hope that this three part battle tested cross platform SmithGeiger strategy helps your team consider how to win when any big game is not on your air.