Rugby league clubs told ‘don’t be middle lane hoggers’ in online world

RUGBY league teams have been told to avoid being ‘middle of the road’ by the media giant it has teamed up with.

The 13-a-side code has struck a 12-year partnership with IMG as it ‘re-imagines’ what is seen by many as an ailing product, especially on this side of the world.

IMG, through its Seven League arm, has spelled out what rugby league clubs should look at doing online

However, the figures from the recent World Cup – 2.8 million viewers watching England’s semi-final loss to Samoa, 40,000 crowds in Newcastle and London and four world record attendances as the hosts won the wheelchair tournament – have breathed new life into it

And clubs, as well as the competitions themselves – particularly Super League, have had the future spelled out to them through IMG’s Seven League’s digital trends report.

The same old, same old, just will not do. Taking a leaf from Manchester City’s book, albeit on a much smaller budget, may do.

It says: “Middle of the road may feel safe. It’s what your fans like. Or at least, what your core fans like. Or at least, what your core fans did like at one point.

“That comfortable spot in the middle is now shrinking beneath your feet.

“There are two main choices – go bigger or go different.

“Being different means giving your creative teams the freedom and permission to trial new ideas and collaborations.

“Going big means innovation, resource expansion, localising in new global markets and attracting new fans and partners.

“Avoid becoming trapped in the malaise of the shrinking middle. Archive video, press conference quotes, highlight clips and post-game 60-second shoutouts have served us well but in 2023, we may need to find another way.”

In forming that warning, Seven League looked at how things have worked this year, with one example from the Premier League standing out.

Manchester City’s online skit when it joined the ‘Greeters Guild’ by having an over-complimentary doorman surprising players with what he says, a video viewed more than three million times.

Manchester City’s skit showing the Greeter’s Guild and players is hailed as a shining exampleSWNS

Its report adds: “No review of 2022’s tech trends can ignore the ongoing rise of TikTok. Spearheaded by Gen Z users with a disdain for existing narratives and old media.

“Sports organisations have tried to ride this wave by embracing a new-found freedom in their content.

“From new ways of announcing news to recruiting comedians for individual skits, see Man City.

“What we’re seeing is the slow death of repetitive, dull content where a win equals a “good week” and a loss equals a “bad week” for content.

“There may not be much of an audience for that funny meme when you’ve lost four in a row, but equally, content planning is increasingly not dependent on results.”

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