SVG Sit-Down: How Yahoo Sports’ Sarah Crennan Tackles Short-Form Sports Video, Content Discovery
Oath property launched update show ‘The Rush’ last month
In the wake of noted success in 2017, Yahoo Sports has turned on the creative hose, developing more original sports content for its various platforms, including its popular mobile app. On that new lineup of programming is a short-form show called “The Rush,” which debuted early last month.
Hosted by former football player and comedian Jared Quay, “The Rush” is typically no more than three minutes long. Its goal is to bring the latest — and most culturally relevant — sports news to fans via the Yahoo Sports app as efficiently and in as entertaining a way as possible.
We caught up with Yahoo Sports Senior Director, Programming, Sarah Crennan, one of the brains behind the new show. In 2017, Yahoo Sports and its parent company, Oath, saw a 1,304% year-over-year increase in mobile views, with 76% of those views coming on mobile devices. So, naturally, 2018 has been a year full of experimenting with mobile for Crennan and her team.
What’s your thought on how things have gone in the first few weeks here?
We’re really happy with how it’s gone. The interesting thing about creating a show that’s meant to be between two and three minutes is the discipline every day of deciding what goes in the show. We work really hard to decide what the top things are that sports fans should know about and engage with and here’s what’s hitting the cutting-room floor and why. As a production team, I think we are getting better at that, but, generally speaking, I’m pretty pleased with how we have been serving sports fans’ needs first thing in the morning on a mobile device.
Has there been a lesson or two learned, any growing pains? Has anything you’ve experienced made you rethink things since the launch?
We did a lot of user testing before we even launched the show, and it tested really, really well for the younger demos that we were really excited to serve. One of the surprises was that the feedback was maybe that the speed of it and the pace of it was too fast. So we’ve paid a lot of attention to delivery because, initially, we were thinking how can we get all of the information a sports fan would want in our show in an exciting way. What we’ve learned and what we’ve optimized is that pacing still matters, and, while we want to make sure we move really quickly, we also want to work on iterating the delivery. I think Jared Quay, our host, has done an amazing job of that. We’ve handled really funny topics and very sensitive topics, and he’s been able to transition very well within the time parameter.
And from that testing, you decided that morning was where you wanted to be with this?
Yes, but it’s also not just the mornings; it’s the length of our show. I think one of the things I have paid a lot of attention to is that a user’s capacity to engage with a piece of content has shifted and the whole world has a proclivity to shift their attention if they are not entertained or not getting value from what they’re engaged in. I think that can be attributed to mobile devices, so I think that serves the morning habit, but we don’t want you to wait for the core information that you actually want. We open the show and get right into it.
As someone who oversees all Yahoo Sports programming, how do you feel this show fits into the overall content plans for your brand?
One of the big things that I’m focused on is discovery and how we can assist discovery and lead users into our app. While we are hosting the show in our app, we’re paying specific attention to how we use social to drive awareness, how we leverage notifications to engage a user. There are many other outlets and opportunities that we have for letting users know that “The Rush” exists.