Sporza's Winning Strategy, Engaging New Audiences Through Fantasy Sports
The Flemish public broadcaster, VRT, consolidates all its sports programming under the brand name Sporza. Holding the television rights to premier sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, cycling classics, the Olympics, and tennis Grand Slams, Sporza has established itself as Belgium’s preeminent sports platform through its website, Sporza.be.
Since the 2018 World Cup, Sporza has collaborated with Fan Arena to offer fantasy sports games. Among these, Sporza’s Cycling Manager has gained exceptional popularity, especially during major soccer tournaments like the European and World Cups.
Sporza excels in delivering live coverage and crafting compelling sports content, with a primary focus on soccer and cycling.
However, the broadcaster faces a challenge in attracting younger audiences, who are less inclined to spend extended periods watching live matches on TV. Sporza’s editorial team sought innovative ways to engage this demographic while also maximizing the value of their acquired TV rights by presenting sports from diverse perspectives.
Responding to this need, Sporza introduced fantasy sports games on its website in 2018, beginning with a classic fantasy game for the World Cup held in Russia. The initiative was so successful that Sporza expanded its offerings to include games for spring cycling classics, Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.
Sporza leverages its robust online presence and social media channels to disseminate fantasy-specific content. The brand even hosts ‘Kopman’, a podcast dedicated entirely to Sporza’s Cycling Manager, featuring tips, previews, and interviews with professional cyclists. Numerous high-profile athletes and cyclists actively participate, creating their own fantasy teams and sharing insights on their selections.
Participation in Sporza’s fantasy games is entirely free; the only requirement is a VRT account. A key driver of the games’ success is the option to create private leagues, allowing players to compete against friends, family, or colleagues, thereby attracting additional participants.
Sporza’s Cycling Manager, known as Sporza Wielermanager, has emerged as one of the world’s largest fantasy cycling games, despite operating in a niche market like Flanders. The game enjoys a fervent following among cycling aficionados and even within the professional peloton. Websites like De Lead-Out contribute to the game’s popularity by offering strategies, tips, and previews, and also collaborate on the Kopman podcast.
Year after year, Sporza celebrates a consistent uptick in participant numbers. The fantasy games have become an integral component of Sporza’s multimedia offerings, receiving coverage on their late-night talk show ‘Vive le Vélo’ on VRT One, as well as during live TV and radio broadcasts.
The games’ extensive reach and targeted audience have also attracted major brand sponsorships. Companies like Shimano, Betfirst, and Skoda have already served as principal sponsors, further solidifying the games’ success.