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The CFL Used a Live Show on Facebook to Target Engaged Fans with Ticketing Spots

Winner Spotlight: CFL Game Time

How the CFL Leveraged Live & Scheduled Content on Facebook to Target Engaged Fans with Ticketing Spots
Winner Spotlight: CFL Game Time

The following interview with Kelly Shouldice, the Canadian Football League’s Vice President of Content, is part of our Campaign Spotlight series, which examines this year’s Hashtag Sports Award-winning work. CFL Game Time won for Outstanding Use of Facebook, which recognizes the most innovative and effective use of Facebook to engage an audience of connected fans & consumers and achieve platform-specific business objectives.


What unique objective or goals led to the creation of this content?

With a following of approximately 227K, the Canadian Football League has been actively engaging fans on Facebook with a variety of content including announcements, news, live and non-live shoulder programming. While it serves as a fantastic engagement tool, we wanted to uncover the possibilities of using the platform to further strategic business objectives. Our objective was to target engaged and lookalike audiences with ticketing spots. At the same time, we also needed to highlight the players, stories and news of our League in new creative ways. With this in mind, we created a new weekly show called “CFL Game Time.”

How was the content designed and produced with the modern sports fan in mind?

A priority for the start of the 2018 CFL season was to highlight the game day experience at our stadiums across the country. With this in mind and an interest in engaging fans with timely, exclusive CFL content each week, we launched CFL Game Time. CFL hosts Brodie Lawson and Davis Sanchez connected with fans live from Thursday Night Football tailgate parties in a new city each week. We literally created our set amid the locations that fans gather before games and made them part of the show. The show brought forth the latest headlines, player exclusives and interviews with bands playing at halftime.

In the fall, the weekly show moved from a live, to live-to-tape format, filmed at a variety of locations including the Facebook Canada HQ in Toronto. Conceived as a 30 minute format, the show was then redistributed in segments which were further leveraged on Instagram.

How did this work achieve effective engagement and what measurable outcomes were delivered?

CFL Game Time averaged 171,550 views per episode. The strongest performing segments derived from the show averaged 10,244 views per clip.

How and why did Facebook fit into your overall strategy for the show?

Our highest engaged social platform was Facebook. We wanted to test the live & scheduled products the platform offered. In the second half of the series, we opted to test out a pre-taped format for the show. Our learnings were constantly incorporated in to the evolution of the show.

What new benchmark(s) in fan engagement does this set? How will this work inspire and move the industry forward?

Avid, casual and new fans were given a regular delivery of timely & exclusive content featuring our League stories and stars. We solicited fan questions for guests ahead of time as well as during the live chat, integrated Instagram polls and peppered in social media commentary from players throughout the show. When we moved to the live-to-tape feature, we used the new Facebook “Premiere” feature to allow the viewers to interact with the show in real time. CFL Game Time provided an opportunity to speak directly to our fans through a platform that is intuitive and importantly the content we delivered was high quality. For the sports and entertainment industry this show allowed us to get real-time feedback on what viewers enjoyed and how long they were willing to stick around. Through polls and integrating comments we were able to drive engagement and get a window into specific topics that interested our audience. This real-time feedback that allows you to cater your content as you develop it will be important to the success of digital content.

The Canadian Football League was one of only 25 inaugural Hashtag Sports Award winners. What does this honor in engagement excellence mean for the league and CFL Gametime?

We’ve always known the capacity of our team to deliver engaging content to our fans but to be recognized by industry leaders is an honour. It proves that having a creative, nimble group willing to take risks has the capacity to evolve sports and entertainment content.

Learn more about the Hashtag Sports Awards which celebrate excellence in fan & consumer engagement, and sign up to be notified when entries for 2020 go live this fall.

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