College sports is the home of burgeoning athletes from a variety of disciplines. Their talent? Unquestionable. Their potential? Unparalleled. Their future? Unknown. NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) is becoming increasingly relevant as athletes and their colleges look to elevate their brands. Just like with global superstars, college athletes can no longer just rely on their talent: but they still need to showcase this talent to broadcast their brand.
Despite the popularity of college sports, a mere 2% of students athletes eventually go professional. Furthermore, the majority of NIL deals that are acquired in college are for less than a $100, with only 0.4% worth more than $10,000. INFLCR, a popular NIL platform reported an average of $1,306 but a median of only $51.19, with over 60% of deals going to American Football players, and the rest to men’s and women’s basketball.
High-valued deals favour certain sports and established micro-influencers, with leading student brands promoted, but those looking to build left behind. It falls on the students to organically grow their following in the hope they can secure deals. So how do you help all your student athletes (revenue generating and non-revenue generating)? There’s been a disappointing reality for student athletes: most do not see endorsement deals because an essential variable is missing, media content.
Digital content is an equaliser. The top activity that attracts NIL compensation is posting content and yet, most colleges miss out on the opportunity to set their athletes up for long term digital success. Many athletes either don’t have access to their photos or videos or they are asked to pay. The missing piece in the current college ecosystem is clear. No matter what sport they play or how large their following is, if they are able to produce consistent content, your student athletes can market themselves and foster their unique brand image.
Athlete brands are essential in 2023. INFLCR and Opendorse offer platforms that connect certain athletes with NIL deals but have severe limitations when it comes to media asset management. Some athletes get their content via these tools, but because each tool is built on deal-making, most media asset management features take a back seat. At scale, this causes many issues. An unused media asset manager platform means old content and wasted resources, but distributing content to athletes at scale can positively impact both student athletes and team accounts.
Much like professional sports organisations, the aggregated following of a college roster, are almost always bigger than the team’s account. In the sporting world, clubs take advantage of this to leverage athlete nationalities and followings, to grow their own. The same could be done for colleges, as despite their relative smaller size, the leveraging of the micro-influencer student accounts at their disposable (by providing them with content) can amplify their own brand.
For example, UConn, University of South Carolina and Stanford’s combined women’s basketball team accounts have 376,000 thousand followers. The combined followers of all players on those teams is 7 times more with 2.6 million followers. There is a clear opportunity for teams to expand their reach and tap into new demographics by leveraging their players following. The need is obvious, colleges need a tool that gives their student athletes readily available assets to build their brand.
The college sports space is a wild west filled with young and talented individuals. Colleges can put their athletes on a level playing field no matter their discipline and grow their brand and college reputation simultaneously. Digital branding principles remain the same whether you’re a college or a professional sports organisation, and both require the right tool.
ScorePlay offers an asset management tool that goes far beyond the media distribution capabilities of INFLCR or Opendorse. Optimising digital workflows will mean fewer athletes waiting in vain for the content they require, and more online activity, beneficial to both athlete and college. It’s clear universities need a strong digital strategy to survive in the modern era. As departments level up, so should their tools. The Miami Immortals 7v7s (elite youth football association) partnered with ScorePlay in hope of providing their players with the assets they need to create their brand before they set off to college, to be in a better position for NIL deals. Now it's your turn.