FloSports found itself in a familiar position to many sports content providers last week – scrambling to find new ways to entertain fans after leagues around the world shut down over the coronavirus pandemic.
The company’s next marquee event was to be the Milano-San Remo cycling race in Italy, scheduled for March 21. But the one-day event was canceled earlier this month.
To make sure it still satisfies cycling fans, FloSports will partner with Zwift – maker of an indoor cycling gamification app – to rebroadcast the 2019 race on its FloBikes OTT channel. Subscribers are welcomed to join a virtual ride watch party where they will workout together, stream the race, and engage on Zwift’s app and FloSports’ social media accounts.
“It’s a way to bring people together around a sporting event that was canceled in the best way we can,” Amy Loesch, senior vice president of marketing at FloSports, said. “We’re looking at different ways like that to continue to bring new content to our audiences.”
Like most OTT streaming services, FloSports’ marketing team was concentrated on acquiring new subscribers before the coronavirus pandemic reached the U.S.
Now, with hardly any live sports to watch, the focus for the company has shifted towards ramping up original programming for its user base.
The company’s 60-person content team produces films, docuseries, athlete interviews, and studio shows – in addition, to live streams of niche sports from around the world,” Loesch said.
Production will continue during the current coronavirus outbreak, and in some cases, expand to air more frequently. New episodes of FloWrestling Radio Live – FloSports’ most popular live studio program covering college wrestling – will now be streamed five times per week instead of the normal three.
Other content plans include ramping up podcast production. In addition to churning out more episodes of existing shows, FloSports expects to launch new podcasts soon, beginning with a show dedicated to grassroots racing leagues on its platform this week. Archived films will also re-air on the platform with never-before-seen scenes, extended interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage.
“So far, the fan reaction has been good. We want to continue to bring them things that are new and different,” Loesch said. “We continue to provide content and let them know what’s available as part of the value of their subscription.”
Subscribers have remained steady even as most sports remain on hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak, Loesch said. In fact, FloSports witnessed an 11% increase in total minutes watched last week across all of its programming. More than 300,000 people have subscribed to the OTT service since launching in 2006.
“The majority of our subscribers are yearly,” Loesch said. “While, of course, we’re worried about churn as any business would be, it’s not something we’re seeing.”
The OTT service was coming off a record year in 2019. Consumption of FloSports content grew 170% year-over-year. More than 174 million minutes of video-on-demand content was also watched on the service. Livestreams additionally ballooned 70% to 309 million minutes watched across 200,000 different sporting events available to subscribers.
FloSports currently offers 25 different sports verticals to fans on its OTT service, including cycling, wrestling, softball, and several other competitions spanning professional, collegiate, and high school sports. Each package is sold individually at around $12.50 per month.
“I think everybody has rallied very quickly to kind of pivot in the new direction around our content,” Loesch said. “Being able to put that in the forefront for our consumers is something we’re focused on, in addition to looking at what else we can bring to the table.”