NFL adds audio app Clubhouse to social media lineup for draft

Dive Brief:

  • The NFL partnered with social audio app Clubhouse to offer exclusive live programming throughout the week of the NFL Draft, per an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive. Starting on April 26, the league began hosting a series of rooms in the invite-only app to give fans a preview of what to expect during the draft, which will be held April 29-May 1.
  • The live audio sessions include a conversation with alumni from the University of Alabama football team, a fan mock draft and an evaluation of expected top picks. During the draft, fans can drop into the NFL’s live audio rooms to hear team picks as they’re announced and listen to discussions from athletes, coaches and broadcast personalities.
  • The addition of Clubhouse to its social media lineup comes as the NFL also partners with photo-messaging app Snapchat for the sixth straight year on draft-related programming, underscoring how the league is leveraging mobile to engage sports fans. The content includes an augmented reality (AR) experience that features all 32 NFL teams and music by singer Machine Gun Kelly, who performs live on the draft’s third night, Snap announced.

Dive Insight:

The NFL aims to recapture the magic of last year’s draft, which was reformatted as a virtual event during the pandemic and saw record TV ratings. Sports fans had sought out the event amid a dearth in live sports programming as professional and college leagues canceled games or suspended their seasons. This year, the NFL draft is competing with other leagues for viewer attention as the sports calendar gets back to normal. With its lineup of live programming on Clubhouse and interactive content on Snapchat, the NFL can engage fans and younger consumers who are heavy users of social media.

Clubhouse has gained attention as the hottest new social media app, and this month closed a funding round that valued the startup at a reported $4 billion. Clubhouse is the leading app in the budding category of social audio apps with 16.4 million lifetime installs, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. However, Clubhouse’s policy of limiting new users to people who have received an invitation to join has limited its distribution compared with other apps like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram that still dominate the rankings of downloads.

Clubhouse downloads jumped to 9.6 million in February, but fell 72% the following month to 2.7 million as some of the buzz wore off, Sensor Tower data show. Clubhouse’s exclusive programming with the NFL may help to drum up interest in the app, which faces growing competition from rivals like Facebook, Spotify and Twitter, which are expanding into social audio.

The NFL’s original content for Snapchat, whose North American user base grew 5% from a year earlier to 93 million in Q1, includes a variety of interactive content to engage football fans. In addition to the AR experience for every team, the league for the first time will have a branded segment in Snapchat’s Cameo Stories. The feature lets users put a selfie into a previously created video and send it to friends. The NFL also is producing three episodes of the show “NFL Extra Point” and two “Highlights” episodes for the draft. Most Snapchat users (93%) said they’re looking forward to the upcoming NFL season, while 85% plan to use the app during the draft, per information from Snapchat.

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