Sports Snapshot [Part 1/4]: Benchmarking Success 

By Henley Worthen · June 06, 2024

Sports Snapshot [Part 1/4]: Benchmarking Success 

In this four-part Sports Snapshot series, we will explore the latest content strategies and audience insights that we identified in Tubular’s latest report: Sports Snapshots: The 2024 Social Media Scoreboard

Tubular’s social media insights give you the upper hand on the competition with comprehensive leaderboards across categories and social platforms. Keeping tabs on top performers in your category can help refine your own content strategy. 

For the sports category, monitoring engagement matters because loyal fans are those who comment, like, and share content with their friends. Below, you’ll find that some of sports’ most engaged social creators are not exclusively posting gaming highlights. Instead, they are leveraging sports-adjacent content that often features cultural elements around sports. 

In Part 1 of our four-part Sports Snapshot series, we’ll discuss how to measure engagement against views, what content drives the highest engagement, and what strategies new, social-first sports broadcasters have used to get ahead.


ESPN Taps into the Sports Community with SportsNation

SportsNation is ESPN’s on-site
forum center where fans can share their opinions in chat rooms and polls.

While SportsNation’s television slot was taken off air in 2018, the channel has found success on social media. Their YouTube strategy includes posting #Shorts that feature athletic moments from everyday people. 

As a forum center, ESPN has made community the center of the SportsNation social channels. Rather than posting professional game highlights and athlete interviews, they more often show moments from backyard baseball, highschool pingpong, and motocross. They’ve also chosen to make YouTube #Shorts the primary content format of their channel. Since its origination, #Shorts have been a great way for channels to increase reach on YouTube. 

This YouTube #shorts video of a 3 year old scoring a bowling strike earned 28.2 million views from February-April 2024. 

SportsNation is a great example of how a company like ESPN can use it’s smaller channels to tap into niche communities and find success. 

Takeaway: 

In addition to game highlights and athlete interviews, sports broadcasters can also incorporate user-generated content to feature their wider communities and reach a larger audience.


Engaging Die-Hard Fans on Social

433 is a social-first broadcaster and the self-proclaimed “home of football.”

With more than 73 million Instagram followers, they not only have more engagements than any other sports broadcaster, but they also have the most engagements per video. 

While views are great for grabbing attention, engagements point to loyal fans and returning audiences. With 433 at the top of this list, it goes to show how social-first sports creators are actually outpacing some of the legacy sports broadcasters that predate the social media era. To achieve success on social, some of these legacy broadcasters can look to social-savvy creators for inspiration. 

Takeaway: 

Focus on engagement! Those who are truly loyal to the sport and to your brand are most likely to comment, like, and share content with their friends.


Culturally Relevant Content Drives More Engagements

While WWE consistently ranks at the top of YouTube leaderboards, other leagues and teams rank higher for average engagement per video.

WWE has a massive online audience that is difficult for anyone to compete with. While their engagements per video are high, they’re not quite as impressive as the Mumbai Indians. 

When looking at the Mumbai Indians YouTube channel, they don’t actually post many game highlights, Their core content types include an animated cricket series based on their team, interviews of their athletes, and features of Mumbai culture like cuisine and music. 

In order to conjure more engagement, the Mumbai Indians are leaning into their community and culture and it’s paying off big time.

Takeaway: 

While game highlights and interviews might score the most views, culturally relevant content drives more engagement.


Competitor Analysis Unlocks Winning Strategies

While the NFL comes in at the #1 most viewed league on TikTok this year, the UEFA Champions League and Real Madrid earn the most engagements per video. AS a sport, it’s hard to beat the die-hard dedication of soccer fans around the world. This is evident in their engagement levels across platforms.

The Brooklyn Nets is the only basketball team that appears within the top ten with a good amount of engagements per video. The NBA league has high viewership but relatively low engagements per video. In order to level up, the NBA could analyze highly engaged leagues like the NFL, or basketball teams like the Brooklyn Nets, to understand highly engaged content strategies. 

Takeaway: 

Understanding what your competitors are doing on social in imperative to refining your own content strategy to get ahead.


Benchmarking success and keeping tabs on competitors is essential in the saturated category of sports broadcasting. Luckily, there are a multitude of strategies that supersede game highlights! Sports social channels are finding success in innovative ways. 

By analyzing who is winning the most views vs. engagements can help you understand what tactics nurture loyalty vs. which tactics drive audience reach.

Benchmarking Success Key Takeaways: 

  1. Engagements matter — they indicate fan loyalty. Some sports leagues and teams are achieving higher levels engagement by posting cultural content over sports highlights. 
  2. Larger broadcasters can use their smaller channels to post community-centric content  that resonates with social audiences and drives reach.
  3.  Social-first sports broadcasters are native to social platforms. Legacy broadcasters should watch these channels closely to observe their content strategies.

Thanks for joining us on Part 1 of this four part series.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing: 

  • Benchmarking success
  • Strategizing a win
  • Diversifying sports audiences
  • Preparing for global games

Can’t wait? Click here to download the full report now. 

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the age of video.