How the NHL, WNBA and WWE changed digital strategy on the fly to meet COVID-19 demands

Sports leagues have been at the forefront of meeting new consumer demands stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, a health crisis that has upended seasonal schedules and marketing plans since last March. This has often meant rolling out fresh forms of digital content on new platforms to engage fans who haven't been allowed at arenas and stadiums but are still seeking entertainment and connection with their favorite teams. Three executives at major sports leagues detailed how their organizations have met the moment during a Tuesday session at the Consumer Electronics Show, which is all-virtual for the first time this year due to COVID-19. "A crisis tends to accelerate and deepen issues that existed before the crisis, but it's also an opportunity to fix those weaknesses and to do some innovation," said Cathy Engelbert, commissioner of the WNBA. Avoiding an 'existential' crisis in the WNBA The WNBA had not begun its 2020 season when the pandemic hit, and forgoing the entire season would have been an "existential" issue for the league, Engelbert said. To head off the disruption, the league held its first virtual draft, which included augmented reality (AR) activations via Snapchat and Google lenses.

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