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How Gamification Enhances Sports Storytelling

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Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: How do all of these interactive elements, these gamification elements, work to enhance the storytelling that is always going to be part of what you all do? The game is the story, perhaps, but how do these enhancements help with the storytelling without--and maybe my asking this just shows that I'm old--without distracting from the story?

Aaron Nagler: It's funny you say that, because I struggled with that for quite a while, when we first started making CheeseheadTV a real concern, the idea of, "The game is the story, right? The players are the story. Why would anyone be interested in anything having to do with CheeseheadTV, myself, what have you" But it's there, man. I can't remember who said it, but someone mentioned a younger audience, that kind of a divide in where you find people maybe are reclining in their La-z-Boys and just watching the game. But there is a whole generation that just doesn't even know that existence. And that was kind of the a-ha moment for me. And I'm sure Patrick finds this a lot in the sense of, "There's a whole generation that wants their hands in the pie and yeah, those guys are playing a game and I'm really excited about it, but there's so much more there." It's such a wide palate as far as engagement and storytelling and things that can augment the game and viewers' and fans' experience of the game in a way that, when I was growing up, journalists stood on the side and they weren't part of the story and they just told what happened and blah, blah, blah. That is so blown out of the water at this point. Like I said, I struggled with it. I still do in the sense of, people want to know ... Anything that happens with the Packers, they want my take on it. It's like, "I don't know, the guy's a fifth-string running back. I don't care." And they're like, "No, but he could really challenge and blah blah blah." But that's because they have a connection to me. And that, again, is a really hard thing to work your head around, but it is very real and it is very generational.

Patrick Dees: I've been on a webinar with you for 45 minutes. And I feel like I have a connection to you here.

Aaron Nagler: There you go. That's what I'm talking about. Hearts and minds, one at a time, Patrick. That's what I do.

Patrick Dees: For me, I think we saw a couple different things. I think it doesn't distract from the story. If anything, it augments and then creates new ones. So we did this thing where we had camps and combines to find players. And then we did a casting call with a casting pass. We hired a casting agent to find the guys with the biggest personalities that lit up when a camera turned on, that wanted to create content outside of game day and engage with fans. And then we saw this virtuous circle. As they're out there creating content on Twitch and being active on social and playing Madden with their fans and those types of things, we saw their number get called more on game day. So the story changes. They're actually getting more reps on game day because they've built a relationship with a fan in a way that never existed before.

And then, if you fast forward this, something we're anticipating, we've got leaderboards by teams. So if you play the tape forward two or three or four years, you can say, "Look, I want to get that Pam. She's killing it." And you're seeing not only players getting recruited to other teams but fans, because she's been number one on the leaderboard for three seasons and we need to get her and have her be part of our fandom. And so I think it creates new storylines and new opportunities for experiences.

Kristen Scott: It's also like we're, we're dealing with a different audience these days. We're dealing with a distracted audience. They're scrolling through Twitter while they're watching the game, they're doing other things while they're watching the game. If you're not taking a slice of that pie, you're losing. So you have to create a more interesting experience for them in order to grab that attention. If you're just providing them a base level experience, they're going to look elsewhere for additive experiences. And I mentioned earlier, I think some of the storytelling that comes from these questions that fans are asking of our talent and our star power guests, that's the stuff that goes well beyond that live window. And the story that Joe Montana told about calling ... he used to call his wife when he would get nervous on the sidelines, during games from phones that are not even supposed to dial out. That story continues to accrue views and engagement and lives on forever on our platforms. I think that's super valuable for us.

Pamela Duckworth: It's cool because I feel like that made him real, right? Everyone thought he was Joe Cool, but he got nervous and called his wife? That's freaking amazing.

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