Bangladesh is a country teeming with sports fanatics. The people here have embedded their emotions with the thrill and despair that comes with every game for decades. Be it football or cricket, the crowd is there in factions or in masses. The pandemic was perhaps a turning point for the sports scenario in Bangladesh. With avid sports fans in dearth of interesting content, there has been the rise of online sports journalism like never before.
This is where self-made content creators, driven by their love for the game, came in. With easy access to the audience via social media and with adequate analysis from both secondary and primary sources, people now enjoy an interesting concoction of sports content and journalistic takes online.
Keeping aside the mainstream path, they've introduced individual journalism in sports without the backing of mainstream media houses. This has primarily been possible through Facebook pages and the easy availability of content creation resources.
Having seen such an exciting prospect in the avenue of sports journalism, attempts were made to look into the nitty-gritty details of this newly found avenue. Shihab Hasan Neyon, Saif Ahmed Chowdhury, and ‘Plaantik’-- a few household names in the booming arena of online sports journalism -- were interviewed.
Neyon and on: Shihab Hasan Neyon burst onto the scene with his energetic videos with colloquial delivery that was massively appreciated by the sports fans. His late-night ‘Noob Football Discussion’ series garnered whooping responses as he delved into the EUROS and COPA America events with apt analysis and post-match reactions. This scribe talked to Neyon regarding his take on the whole sports content creation industry.
"After every match, we, fans, feel some adrenaline rush that we want to show somewhere and I believe 'Neyon & On' is the platform for that. I always try to portray the emotions fans go through during every moment of the season. Sports content creation is something that we should promote more in our country."
Consistency is the key in this field of creation, believes Neyon. He shared an instance from the time when EURO and COPA happened simultaneously.
"I remember one example, when I fell asleep during the match and Fahim had to call more than 20 times to wake me up. Zawad, on the other hand, always kept pushing me whenever I felt lazy to upload videos. Sports content creation is a team game and I believe the Neyon & On team is doing its best to serve the sports lovers."
Stories with Saif: Saif Ahmed Chowdhury, best known for his in-depth cricket analysis and well-thought-out opinions, started off with a Facebook page and his group Sportsfeed. Being equally informed in the matters of cricket and sports his engagement with the audience has been of exchanging opinions and open-ended analysis. Upon meeting up with Saif about his journey, he had to add, "It was just a month before the 2019 World Cup when I felt it's time to start my own personal page where there will be solely my views about the beautiful game. They say it takes time to make friends, but it takes only a minute the moment you start talking about sports with each other."
"I've never been someone who is highly skilled in analysing the game. I just try to interpret the emotions of the fans through my platform and this is one of the best decisions I have taken in life. What I started just for the sake of passion turned into a brand. My name Saif turned into 'Stories with Saif' and this platform gave me amazing people, passionate followers of the game, and my dream job," remarked the young sportswriter.
"It is beautiful to see how almost every day new content creators with different niches are growing in Bangladesh now. To the people, who have creative ideas in their mind and want to start content creation, but hesitate to start something of their own, I have only one message for you -- the future is now. Make the most out of it."
Plaantik: Plaantik set out on their journey 10 years ago with a view to providing the football-loving crowd of Bangladesh with crisp football news, discussions, and eventually content. Plaantik has seen steady growth since its inception. Plaantik even got coverage on ESPN Sportscenter and has been actively involved in curating Bangladeshi football's digital landscape.
Plaantik started at a time when very few outlets understood the power of sports on social media. "We were one of the first ones to curate and create original football content in the digital space - not just in Bangladesh - but in the world," said Tawsif B Akkas, CEO of Plaantik.
Being one of the first movers set Plaantik apart and the platform built credibility through the years with a few strategic partnerships and collaborations. At the end of the day, as the CEO continues, "We saw a gap in the market, jumped right in, and built a solid community that has stuck with us for over a decade now. We'd like to believe we were way ahead of the game when it came to innovative ways of engaging with an online crowd -- some of which are still being adopted by the market."
"Working with football in the digital sphere in Bangladesh is a pretty unique challenge especially when you consider the overall sporting landscape of the country," said Ahnaf Ahmed, COO of Plaantik.
"But our strength is our organic connection with our audience and that allows us to explore innovative revenue streams which have made us sustainable," affirmed the avid sports lover regarding their journey as a unit.
"Over the years we collaborated with local and international names that not only positioned our brand in a unique way in the football media landscape, it also created a durable connection with the audience we seek to serve."