When we showed up at my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, my uncle already had the TV tuned to Fox for the game between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears — because, you know, that’s what uncles do.
But then a funny thing happened.
As he went to check on the turkey, Fox cut to a Major League Soccer game between the Colorado Rapids and the Portland Timbers. It was the first time MLS had ever broadcast a match on Thanksgiving Day, and standing there, holding my toddler and a glass of wine, I got sucked into the game. For 10 solid minutes, I got to revel in tense, nervy playoff soccer.
Eventually, though, the baby needed a new diaper. I changed him, hugged some cousins, and put my cranberry dish in the oven to warm it back up. By the time I got back to the television, my uncle had switched the channel back to the American football on CBS. I didn’t get to see another minute of my game, but it was totally fine.
With two small kids, my viewing experience has often been interrupted. But it’s never felt incomplete because I always know that the highlights will find me.
When a team I care about scores a goal, my Apple Watch buzzes the instant the ball hits the back of the net. Moments later, the broadcaster will share a clip of the moment on Twitter, and I’ll get to watch the action. A few hours after the match concludes, more often than not, there’s a full highlight package on YouTube.
So on Thanksgiving Day, when Larrys Mabiala scored a 90th minute match winner to send Portland through to the next round of the playoffs, I saw the video before we sat down for dinner. I felt connected to the action even though I was anything but.
That moment is indicative of one of the content realities for professional sports in 2021. To thrive as an entertainment enterprise, they have to meet their fans where they are. It’s not about broadcasting the big game through some sort of immersive, augmented reality experience accessible to only a handful of people. It’s about creating a cross-channel pipeline of connectivity between fans and the action.
And as campaigners and organizers, we should internalize that same idea.
We’re at the time of the year when everyone wants to talk about what’s next. We’re five minutes away from an onslaught of “trends to watch for 2022” stories, and my inbox is currently filled with emails from vendors trying to pitch crypto strategies for nonprofit fundraisers or whatever.
Maybe some of that newness will catch on. But until it does, all the shiny stuff is additive.
What matters is getting your message in front of people consistently enough that they know your story. What’s important is creating an experience for your activists, supporters, and donors that fits within the rhythms of their daily lives.
So as you begin making plans for the year to come — and setting priorities for your work — start with whatever pathway gives you the most reach. Do great work on the platforms where you can find the greatest concentration of your people.
And if you still have a few hours left in your day after that, maybe then you can set aside a little time to figure out exactly how NFTs work.
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