Detroit Red Wings Soothe Fan Longings for Sports With Digital Content, Community Togetherness
Original Six NHL franchise coordinates with MLB’s Tigers on content strategy during COVID-19 crisis
In a period unprecedented in the modern era, professional sports teams have shuttered their venues in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. As the nation yearns for any sign of live sports action, teams are weathering the storm by producing content from behind closed doors. In Detroit, the Red Wings and Tigers are bringing their fanbases together, along with the entire metropolitan area, by distributing community-driven and nostalgic content on the clubs’ social-media platforms.
“Detroit is one of the greatest sports towns in the country,” says Peter Skorich, VP, entertainment services and broadcasting, Olympia Entertainment, “and our fans have a way of rallying together during uncertain times. These are unprecedented circumstances, and, while there is a lot of uncertainty, we also view it as an opportunity to engage our fans in new and innovative ways. We’ve been collaborating with the Tigers on a content strategy built on bringing our community together and highlighting some of the historic moments that Detroit sports fans are so proud of.”
Feeding Fans’ Appetite: Social Content, Classic Games Replace Televised Sports
While Red Wings and Tigers players are scattered across the country at their respective homes, Skorich and his team are hard at work despite the obstacle of working remotely. To bridge the gap, the staff is tapping into a model that many teams are using: 21st century technology.
“Our staff has embraced working remotely and are approaching it with a great deal of enthusiasm,” Skorich says. “We’re in contact multiple times per day through a variety of mediums and are able to access our servers from home. I’ve challenged our team to be as creative as possible during this time. Live sports aren’t a reality right now. Let’s give our fans new, entertaining ways to consume Red Wings hockey and Tigers baseball without the ability to watch the games live. And let’s try to bring a smile to everyone’s faces.
“And, while our players are displaced,” he continues, “they’ve been great. We’ve seen Red Wings and Tigers players and coaches create very engaging content that our social-media team has done a great job amplifying on our channels. It’s a team effort and one we are continuing to embrace.”
Daily brainstorming by the internal content and social-media teams has produced multiple ideas that are capturing the attention of digital-centric fans. Fun concepts include what the players are binge-watching on television, interactive challenges that leverage fan-submitted videos, and players reading children’s books to kids before bedtime on Facebook Live.
The #DBossChallenge ‼️
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 23, 2020
Digital platforms aren’t the only destination for Red Wings faithful. On linear television, Skorich and his team are collaborating with Fox Sports Detroit, the Red Wings’ and Tigers’ television partner, to re-air nostalgic material of the past.
“We’re listening to, and measuring, what our fans would most like to see during this time away from hockey and baseball,” says Skorich. “It’s no surprise that they have a longing to relive some of the great moments in Red Wings and Tigers history. Whether it’s Justin Verlander’s no-hitter in 2007 or the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup run in 1997, Fox Sports Detroit has been great in helping us bring that content to our fans on linear TV. It’s a great arrangement for the teams, along with our television partner.”
#TogetherDetroit: Red Wings, Tigers Unite for Community Outreach
The Red Wings and Tigers are harnessing the power of sports and entertainment to connect with and unify Detroiters during this unprecedented experience. #TogetherDetroit was trending on social media upon its unveiling, which encouraged Detroit sports fans to walk outside and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to celebrate the originally scheduled start of the Tigers season. Hundreds of fans posted their own videos, which were also shared on the Tigers’ social-media channels. Both teams continue to leverage the rallying cry as the primary driver of their coordinated content strategy.
“Our hope was that #TogetherDetroit creates a sense of community and belonging,” Skorich says. “The response has been tremendous.”
— PAWS (@PAWSDetroit) March 21, 2020
Planning Goes On in the Hope of an Eventual Return to Action
While we all wait to hear about the future of the 2020 NHL and MLB seasons, Skorich and his team are brainstorming ideas and putting plans in motion for when Little Caesars Arena reopens for business. But, until that time comes, the Red Wings and Tigers are urging the community to do their part in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Like everyone else, we’re closely monitoring the situation and listening to the advice of professionals,” Skorich says. “In the meantime, we’re eagerly preparing for when we can welcome fans back into our venues and begin creating great memories together again.”