Market Insight: Football on social and digital - what did Grabyo learn this season?

21 July 2017 |
“As well as new players and newly found optimism amongst fans, the new season, just weeks away now, will bring new trends and new approaches as clubs look to maximise the digital channels available to them. The 2016/17 football season showed that clubs need to embrace social and digital media to stay relevant. Clubs that find the best way to exploit their rights will lead the market in reach, engagement and most importantly...revenue.

The best performing clubs bring content to fans across multiple social platforms, drive increased commercial opportunities and activate campaigns for sponsors and partners. Live, in-play, real-time, near-live, mobile and archived video all play a role in the content-mix - finding a way to include them in a team's social content plan is key to success.

The market is changing. Sports audiences are failing to identify with linear sports programing and TV ratings are down for many major sports properties in Europe and North America. The reverse is true for digital. Grabyo and our partners have seen rapid and accelerating growth across social and digital this year. Football fans, like all consumers, face a myriad of choices for attention and it’s critical for clubs to build their presence on social platforms to maintain loyal audiences and increase levels of engagement.

Growing your digital audience: Southampton FC

Southampton FC has established itself as a leader in social video production - the success this season saw them nominated for a Cutting Edge Sport Award at the 2017 BT Sport Industry Awards. The club has embraced digital as a distribution channel and takes full advantage of media rights across all digital platforms to increase fan engagement and advocacy.

By choosing to embrace social media, Southampton FC partnered with Grabyo to create and nurture a digital ecosystem for its fans. By producing and sharing over 100 videos a month, a mix of live, on-demand and near-live content, the club offers fans more content and more access to the team and players than ever before.

Southampton utilises Twitter, Periscope and Facebook to provide a range of viewing experiences for fans. On Twitter, the Southampton team shares key moments - including all the goals and in-play highlights - from U23 and Academy matches in real time. The club also live streams press conferences, U-21 games and awards ceremonies on Facebook and Periscope. Grabyo worked with Southampton to simplify the workflow for live production, clip creation, publishing and streaming - expanding the scope of content for fans and creating new revenue streams for the club.

The Importance of Live Streaming - Real Madrid & Chelsea FC

Football clubs face restrictions when it comes to live streaming - the rights packages sold to broadcasters limit a club's ability broadcast to social and digital channels - specifically live game footage which commands multi-billion dollar media rights fees. Yet this season demonstrated the growing importance of live, offering an enhanced experience to fans around the match action.

Real Madrid uses Grabyo to take its TV service to Facebook Live, taking advantage of the content rights available which excludes LaLiga games. The Spanish club broadcasts training sessions, press conferences, player interviews, entire academy and youth team matches, pre-match warm ups and tunnel cams, giving their fans unprecedented access to the team. Their results are staggering, over seven million tuned into Facebook Live to watch the on-field celebrations as Los Merengues won their 33rd LaLiga title in 2017.

Premier League teams face the same rights restrictions as their LaLiga counterparts, but again this hasn’t stopped Chelsea, Everton and Southampton using live streaming across social media to their advantage. Chelsea FC took its Premier League 2 game against Manchester City to Facebook Live; the game was watched by an audience of 1.6 million. The demand from fans to watch live on social is there, yet clubs remain hesitant to embrace all the distribution options available.

Driving Revenue and Sponsor Activation - The FA and Real Madrid.

The proliferation of social channels means that football fans watch sports across a range of connected platforms and devices. This provides exciting opportunities for clubs to create digital sponsorship packages and find new buyers for social inventory. .

The social platforms themselves have created sponsorship and advertising options such as Facebook Branded Content and in-stream video ads, Twitter Amplify and Instagram Stories - but for most rights holders this value is tied up with current sponsorship agreements.

During this season's El Clásico match between Real Madrid and Barcelona, research specialist Nielsen Sports reported that activity across social media added $5.1million in media value for sponsors of both clubs, highlighting the value of social distribution and why football clubs should be communicating and valuing their media and content rights across multiple platforms - the returns to their sponsors could be much larger than anticipated.

Nielsen Sports

The analysis highlights the importance of social media for an away-team. Social media is a tool to generate value for sponsors when there is no possibility for exposure through traditional in-stadium advertising inventory (which is owned and sold by the home team)

As a Grabyo partner, The Football Association works with its principal sponsor Vauxhall, using video to activate its partnership on social media. The FA uses Grabyo to add Vauxhall branding to video shared across Facebook and Twitter, allowing the FA to integrate with Facebook’s branded content program and reinforce the partnership with the automotive brand. 

Last season showed us that rights holders are increasingly embracing the potential of social video to better engage fans, drive revenues and add value for their commercial partners. Undoubtedly there will be new technologies and new innovations this season that rights holders can benefit from and, at Grabyo, we are proud to continue supporting Real Madrid C.F., FC Barcelona, Southampton, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, The FA, the English Premier League and LaLiga as they continue to bring their fans and sponsors the best experience across digital and social.

Get in touch at [email protected] if you want to find out more.

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