News Corp Australia scores reader engagement with Commonwealth Games coverage

By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, USA


Every four years, the Commonwealth Games brings together athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations to celebrate and compete in a range of sporting events.

The most recent games were held in Birmingham, England, from July 28 to August 8, 2022, and brought together athletes from 72 nations to compete in 280 events. It was the largest number of participants in the history of the games, and it attracted more than 5,000 athletes.

As the 2022 games approached, News Corp Australia wanted to find a way to increase audience engagement and drive more users to the far-reaching coverage and analysis it would provide throughout the games. It offered multiple ways for users to access the coverage, including an app, a special digital edition, the online games hub, and the daily subscriber-exclusive Commonwealth Games newsletters.

While the coverage was impressive, the company knew it required more than great content to reach its goals; it would require editorial and marketing to work together to create awareness of the content and drive strong reader engagement.

Exclusives such as the 20-page daily digital print edition and an app helped drive digital engagement.
Exclusives such as the 20-page daily digital print edition and an app helped drive digital engagement.

The editorial game plan

News Corp Australia assigned 17 of its best journalists and digital experts to cover the games for all its mastheads: Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Advertiser, Courier Mail, NT News, and Mercury.

The size of the team allowed the company to provide in-depth around-the-clock coverage. Then, by leveraging every available format, News Corp Australia invited users to consume the content through video, audio, digital, and print. To build the excitement as the games approached, it released a 28-page print and digital preview guide.

Once the games began, it released a 20-page digital print edition, “The Games,” at 8:30 every morning. Available exclusively to digital subscribers, it reported the winners from the day before and provided complete commentary, news, analysis, and photos. A daily eight-page lift-out section appeared in the print version as well.

Then, thanks to the Comm Games Hub, users could find up-to-date coverage of moments both on and off the field. A daily newsletter featuring expert analysis from Australian swimmer and former Olympian James “The Missile” Magnussen ensured subscribers didn’t miss a moment of the day’s action. And, to further augment the coverage, breaking news alerts appeared throughout the day.   

Marketing efforts ensured that readers knew what content to look for and how to access it.
Marketing efforts ensured that readers knew what content to look for and how to access it.

The marketing playbook

With so many entry points to the great content, it was up to the marketing department to ensure that readers not only knew what types of coverage were out there for them but that they knew where and how to access it. All the editorial teams across the country received a toolkit that was designed to be used in print, online, and on social platforms during key moments of the games.

The toolkits included pointers for readers to take such actions as downloading the app, finding the games hub, discovering the daily digital print edition, and promoting subscriber-exclusive daily newsletters. The tools were also used before the games began to encourage users to be ready for the games so they wouldn’t miss a single moment of action.

Scoring across the board

The campaign proved to be immensely popular, with above-average traffic hitting the platforms. More than 4.5 million total pageviews — 3.4 million of which came from subscribers — were recorded and levels of engagement also were high. The daily digital print edition generated 269,000 pageviews, and the app was downloaded more than 7,315 times throughout the campaign.  

The Games newsletters also were a hit, enjoying an average unique open rate of 41% — nearly twice the industry average. 

About Paula Felps

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