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These Clubs Own Instagram

Being a leading football club means having a great social following today. We look at the top 7 sides, when it comes to Instagram. And it’s the Champions League, really.



Instagram has become the go-to platform for users these days. And football fans will show their digital support there – or on Facebook or Twitter. But Instagram really gives the clubs the opportunity to let fans immerse in the world that their favorite club means to them. Various formats, especially stories, and features make that platform an experience to spend a good amount of time on. That strengthens not only social support worldwide, but should be worth while eventually. Here are the teams that really own Instagram and we recognise: nothing succeeds like success.

The top 3 clubs on Instagram: Made of titles, stars and marketing

Instagram is the place to be for any brand or marketer. Especially since stories started their rise. If clubs are doing well in Social Media, that’s a good way to keep existing fans engaged and gain new followers also. To be amongst the top clubs on Instagram, you need people who work on strategies for the numerous channels everyday. Ben Ladkin, general manager of the Arsenal London Media Group, explained on last year’s Spielmacher Conference that clubs need to be diverse and global in terms of Social Media. Not just Facebook, Instagram or Twitter are important, Sina Weibo or Tencent in China, VKontakte in Russia or GIPHY are also quite relevant these days, that are so digitalised.

Arsenal are very active on GIPHY, screenshot GIP

The right content, on the right platform, at the right moment,

thats Ladkin’s motto. Instagram is the right platform for football clubs right now – people are just consuming so much there. More than a billion users seem to accentuate that, 400 million of them use stories daily. The platform could be used as a retail driver since it offers so many marketing options like shopping in stories. Stories are great anyway, because they offer the chance to show galleries of goals, saves, training pictures or what have you. As fans from all over the world go to Instagram to watch their favourite teams or the ones they like, those media sections of clubs mustn’t be complacent. Updates are expected daily, rather by the hour.

We have a look at the top three football clubs on Instagram measured by the number of followers. It’s probably little surprise that those are teams who remain in the Champions League knock-out stages and have won countless titles. Real Madrid, the Champions League holders and record winners, not only of that competition, have most fans, an astonishing 67,7 million. Their former superstar Cristiano Ronaldo – who has a staggering 151! million followers – may have helped them as much as their recent success in the European competition or their very legendary status. Their account isn’t too extravagant, though – surprisingly. Yet, he post that followed Luka Modric’s win of the Ballon d’Or was class.

Their fierce rivals from Spain, FC Barcelona are a close second with 64,4 million. The catalans have become a marketing powerhouse, reporting an income of 914 million euro last year and were the first football club to pass the billion dollar mark with that. They may have lost Neymar, but still have Lionel Messi as an engagement driver. Both of them have over a hundred million followers, too. And they have shown their Instagram credentials by referring to the new most-liked post of an egg, when they celebrated Messi’s 400th LaLiga goal.

They do post a bit more often than Real and with a bit more wit, it seems. So they might just overtake their rivals here – as they have done in LaLiga this season.

Third on this list is Manchester United. This club epitomises marketing and Social Media. Not only because they have players under contract who are real Instagram kings, like Paul Pogba or Jesse Lingard. United also, like most top clubs, have players from various nations and continents, they post with high frequency, were the first club with their own branded YouTube channel as well and have been renowned for stardom ever since the days of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. 25,7 million people follow them on Instagram. A good mix of videos, stories and behind-the-scenes pictures keep interest levels high. They have participated in the recent #10yearchallenge and shown Pogba back then in the youth team and as the top player he is today.

View this post on Instagram

#10YearChallenge: #MUFC player edition 😁

A post shared by Manchester United (@manchesterunited) on

But there are a few clubs hot on the heels of United right now.

Another 4 clubs that surge on Instagram: Signing top players certainly helps

As mentioned before, Cristiano Ronaldo is a Social Media phenomenon. He certainly breathes Instagram, mixing his social with his professional life there.

His new club Juventus may have benfitted from his arrival in terms of shirts sold and goals scored, but his impact on Instagram is big, too. Juve have 21,2 million followers now. And they had about 14 to 15 million in the summer. Showing their trophies, very recently the Supercoppa Italiana, seems to work as well as their flasback videos that generate millions of views.

Not far behind The Old Lady is a club, which has only risen to the top in the last decade or so. PSG have 18,5 million followers and probably have Zlatan and Beckham to thank for their popularity everywhere, like they now bank on the world’s darlings Mbappé and Neymar. Edinson Cavani has 6 million followers himself, but Mbappé has nearly 26 and Neymar has a breathtaking 109 million followers. He even eclipsed Messi lately.

Should they be able to keep hold of their prized assets and maybe go on a winning run in the Champions League, they might overtake Manchester United rather sooner than later. How fitting that they meet on the pitch soon. That’s where it counts first of all.

The nex club in line has 15 million followers: FC Bayern Munich. The name stands for success. Record champions and cup winners in Germany, a squad with stars and a lot of German internationals, big wins in Europe’s elite competition and remembered for names like Müller (Gerd and Thomas), Beckenbauer, Matthäus, Kahn. They don’t come across as glittering as Real or PSG on their social channels, but have more than twice the amount of followers than rivals Borussia Dortmund and have an eye for the fancy post.

The top seven are completed by London club FC Chelsea. 14,6 million followers are counted there. Winning league and cup titles aplenty as well as the Europa League and the Champions League a few years back will have helped their cause on the social network. But they always had some proper fans and as a club representing one of the most famous cities, they do themselves justice whenever they come to Wembley and win.

View this post on Instagram

2018 FA CUP WINNERS! 🏆🍾 #CFC #Chelsea

A post shared by Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) on

Honourable mentions: AS Roma are social crazy

Teams that have not made our list, but are worth mentioning are Arsenal London or AS Roma for different reasons. As mentioned above, Arsenal have really set the tone when it comes to Social Media presence all around. Their Media Group has more than 30 employees. The Gunners’ Instagram account has 13,2 million followers. And what better than a derby win for the fans to feast their eyes on.

Arsenal and Chelsea are the only teams here that don’t play in the Champions League this season, but that is an exception. Another side that is still in the competition is AS Roma. And boy, are they good in terms of Social Media. Yes, their Instagram account is somewhat lagging behind. It only has 2,2 million followers. But still they know what their fans want.

We’ve seen some top clubs here that just own Instagram, at least when it comes to football. Success might be the platform to be great in Social Media, too. As there’s always room for creative content, though, one could certainly use Instagram and its stories to promote special clubs which may not be amongst the most successful on the pitch. Just be up to date with recent trends and take the best as an example. If an egg can defeat Kylie Jenner, so a small club could gain unexpected awareness there. All that’s needed is a unique approach. And that can be be valuable in a variety of ways. Remember, Instagram is good for reach; the more you reach, the more you monetise.

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Streaming Services Offer Clubs a Route to Fans’ Ears and Hearts

The BVB have teamed up with Deezer and join the likes of ManUtd or Barça, while Boca Juniors and Co. partner with Spotify. Streaming Services grow in importance for any club, especially with podcasts in mind.



Multi media are a modern standard for any user. And so do football fans not only follow their beloved clubs via one channel, but use various opportunities to get ever more content concerning their club. With this in mind, it is no wonder a lot of clubs are teaming up with streaming services like Spotify and Deezer to create club branded channels and playlists in order to lure the supporters to the respective platforms. That very move also makes for a great foundation if clubs consider embracing the growing podcast market in the future.

Deezer deals aplenty for clubs

Borussia Dortmund just launched their very own Deezer account where not only playlists for the matchday will appear, but also curated ones from selected players like Marco Reus or Jacob Bruun Larsen.

Carsten Cramer, BVB director for sales, marketing & digitalisation, explained that the club could get closer to its fans via such a streaming service:

We’re very happy to partner up with Deezer. Music like football has the power to unite people. With Deezer we have the ideal partner to get closer to our fans thanks with music.

Ralph Pighin, VP Central & Eastern Europe at Deezer said that Deezer would accompany happenings at one of Europe’s biggest clubs with relevant audio content.

Deezer offers club branded playlists, © Deezer

Referring to the founding year of the BVB, Deezer offers fans its family service for 19,09 euro in the next three months. This special offer, meant to make individualised listening for all family members – up to six profiles – easier, will be available in the BVB app.

The French streaming service Deezer is also the official music partner for media giants Manchester United or the FC Barcelona.

ManUtd put it nicely by claiming the streaming service offers a passage to clubs’ hidden hearts:

Deezer’s partnership with Manchester United is an exclusive backstage pass for fans to the club’s hidden heart. With football and music content you won’t find anywhere else, from player’s playlists to what’s playing in the stadium at Old Trafford before a match, Deezer is the best place to listen to Manchester United’s Flow.

Clubs are banking on different streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify

Not only Deezer is helping teams around the globe reach their diverse fanbases. Argentinian powerhouse Boca Juniors for example have recently partnered with Spotify, as SportsPro Media report. As part of the deal the club will create a playlist with a title like Way to the Bombonera. The Swedish streaming giants had already teamed up with the three famous clubs from São Paulo: Corinthians, Palmeiras and São Paulo FC. On São Paulo FC’s Spotify channel there are playlists with hits from the years 1992, 1993 an 2005 – as in each of those years the club won the famed Copa Libertadores. The partnership even saw Spotify give caricature paintings as well as co-branded headphones to the players.

Now, that’s what you call visible branding.

Various clubs from all over the world have their own channel on Spotify by now. Borussia Mönchengladbach or West Ham United are examples for that.

And Spanish La Liga does have its own channel, too.

Apart from Deezer and Spotify, big clubs like Arsenal London or Bayern Munich have partnerships with different streaming services in place. The German record champions have an exclusive deal with Apple Music and are furthermore equipped with Dr. Dre headphones, a division from Apple. Arsenal London, on the other hand, have a started a partnership with streaming platform TIDAL. This rather unique deal emphasises Arsenal’s conviction of developing young talent. Arsenal chief commercial officer Vinai Venkatesham said:

Football and music are great passions of so many of our global supporters. This partnership combines these two passions in a unique way and will give our members access to some fantastic benefits. It is also a celebration of our shared belief in young talent, and will create opportunities to bring together our players with TIDAL’s rising artists.

Here, some Arsenal stars tell you what they listen to before matches.

The big potential in deals with audio streaming platforms

As of January 2019, Deezer had seven million paying subscribers, according to Statista. Spotify have 87 million paying users and 200 monthly unique visitors, though. And Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO and founder, wants to turn the audio market into a success like the video market. For he says that people tend to spend as much time with audio these days as with video content.

With the world focused on trying to reduce screen time, it opens up a massive audio opportunity.

And audio does not just mean music. Podcasts are a content format which has been well adopted in the US. According to the IAB (International Advertising Bureau), ad revenue from podcasts was estimated at 314 million US dollar for 2017. To take it into perspective, that signals an 86 per cent increase year-over-year. And estimations from PwC see it surpass the one billion mark by 2020, growing to 1,6 billion dollar in 2022.

Podcast revenue growth expectations in the US, © PwC

So there’s a whole marketable market there for the taking – and sports clubs should be aware of this potential. Especially, since in Europe the podcast market hasn’t been swamped with too much content, yet. And listeners are even earger to spend a lot of time and are not afraid of native advertising as well.

To partner with streaming services like Spotify, where the users are for a good part anyway, is a shrewd idea. Because Spotify just acquired podcast specialist platforms Anchor and Gimlet Media for nearly 340 million US dollar to strengthen their own podcast department.

St. Pauli, a cult club from Germany with fans everywhere, has already offered its fans the opportunity to listen to podcasts via Deezer. These are only fan podcasts, but clubs could integrate their own content, too. If it is exclusive, it would surely lure even more people. And that would also be great for the streaming service. The FC St. Pauli also promote songs from their remarkable FC St. Pauli Music School by Levi’s® via Deezer, an insitution at the Millerntor stadium for everyone who can’t afford music lessons. Branding and fan generating go hand in hand for them with the help of the streaming service. Those are great marketing prospects for any club in the world, since audio and football have long been closely related – and a revival, albeit way more digital and immersive, seems to be on the cards.

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UEFA to Launch Own OTT Platform



The disruption of traditional football coverage takes another step. European football’s administrative body, the UEFA, will launch an own OTT streaming service over the next six months. That was confirmed by Aleksander Čeferin, rigth after his re-election as the body’s president. But the development won’t stop there. Partnerships with big companies are in the pipeline, yet, the European football shall stand for unity.

UEFA has big plans: An OTT platform to start with

There’s always something to talk about with the UEFA involved. A few days back, Aleksander Čeferin has been unanimously re-elected UEFA president until 2023. The body’s strategy circles around four pillars:

  • keeping football first
  • building trust
  • ensuring competitiveness
  • increasing prosperity

Another, yet rather dubios, person involved in the UEFA’s fate is Nasser Al-Khelaifi, debatable president of PSG. He is now the ECA representative of the UEFA Executive Committee.

I look forward to working alongside members of the UEFA Executive Committee to enhance and develop European football, whilst ensuring that the interests of clubs, are represented in the decision making process,

he said. Some will surely doubt that he is going to support really every club’s desires.

Aleksander Čeferin and Nasser Al-Khelaifi in talks, screenshot YouTube, © UEFA

However, the UEFA wants to make European football more accessible via digital platforms to anyone – and is therefore planning to launch their own OTT service.

This is why I am pleased to announce that UEFA will be launching its OTT platform in the next six months. We are fully aware that a revolution is under way, and are in the process of agreeing historic partnerships with the world’s leading companies in this field. We have already started to move in this direction thanks to a sponsorship deal with the Alibaba Group. This partnership is more than a simple sponsorship deal. It’s a first agreement that opens up new horizons, such as the creation of a centre of excellence in new football technologies or joint e-commerce projects,

said Čeferin following his re-election. While the OTT platform will start showing women’s and youth games first – since rights for the European competitions like the Champions League are allocated for another few years –, partnerships with big companies like Alibaba will only help grow the brand UEFA. How that helps a “society racked with doubt“, as Čeferin calls it, remains to be seen. There might surely be hope, that the UEFA will make it easier to access games under their patronage and provide fans with a great and holistic digital experience in the future. Yet, the UEFA earn more money every single season – and deals with the likes of Alibaba will surely accelerate the process. That money mainly returns to those participating in the Champions League and Europa League: clubs, that are quite rich anyway. And with Čeferin and Al-Khelaifi on the board, the thought of a more economic growth management is never far away. Maybe, beside all this talk of development in the football ecosystem, the UEFA should harden their stance on the Financial Fairplay first.

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OTT Darling DAZN – What’s Next After Multi Screen and Ads?

DAZN is turning into the most appealing option to stream football. While ads might not be appreciated that much, the new multi screen feature certainly is.



DAZN has come into the market knowing just what fans needed: an easy way to stream their favourite sports from wherever they are. The OTT service now offers several top leagues concerning football – Champions League and Premier League included – and also makes sure the supporters can watch NFL or MLB action. Some fans could have been upset, when they heard about the service’s advertising plans. But since DAZN offers good value and is more convenient than other options, it shouldn’t deter many viewers. Especially not now that one can watch several streams at once via multi screen.

DAZN: leagues offered
DAZN offers various sports on its platform, live and on demand, © DAZN

DAZN tells people about advertising partners

Well, DAZN just informed people in Germany about their advertsing partners, meaning there will be ads integrated into the streaming experience. Yet, there was no backlash. People seem to be happy to consume a bit of advertising, as long as it’s suitable, if that means the service isn’t up for a price hike.

DAZN even confirmed that no fan would miss a second of live sports during streaming. What the update means, though, is that quite a few brands could reach even more possible customers, now they might cooperate with DAZN. Some viewers would rather pay more in order to get away from ads they have to endure on Social Media and TV. But probably the majority will vote against a pricier service, even if that goes hand in hand with more adverts.

Anyway, DAZN, which belongs to the Perform Group, is on its way to the top. The numbers speak for itself. Only starting in 2016, the service has millions of subscribers already. It launches in Brazil and Spain this year to make it available in nine markets now. The most important market expansion might have been that to the USA in 2018. Astonishingly, the OTT service is aiming to be available in 20 markets by 2020. Important for the growth of DAZN were announcements made concerning the opportunity for US fans to watch MLB games live from 2019 on, or the deal with Golden Boy Promotions, a boxing promoter, which will see eleven fights from Saul “Canelo” Alvarez being streamed on the platform.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
“Canelo“ will be boxing on DAZN, © DAZN

DAZN’s growth is aided by development structures

The will to grow is obvious everywhere. For example, a new office in Leeds has just been moved into. It shall help the service grow in the UK and worldwide, surely.

Apart from that, Ben King was appointed SVP Global Distribution and Business Development in January. He joined from tech giants Apple, and was warmly welcomed:

His global experience and insight-driven approach will enable DAZN to grow faster and stronger as we extend our business deeper into both existing and new markets. We are delighted to get him onboard.

King himself was sure to make DAZN an even more interesting alternative in our evolving digitalised world:

Live sport may be the last holdout of the digital media revolution, but I have no doubt about the benefits of bringing fans closer to their favourite teams and sport stars through a more user-friendly, convenient and affordable service. The potential is staggering, and I could not be more excited about joining DAZN to help realise it.

A great example for the exploitation of such potential is the new multi screen available to first users.

A multi screen makes for individual viewing close to today’s habits

DAZN is often referred to as the Netflix of sports. That’s mainly due to their rapid growth in an on demand digital media environment – but also closely connected to their rather cheap offering. Chief Product Officer Ben Lavender even mentioned Netflix himself:

Netflix has set the bar in that people expect to consume content online. We’ve got great rights, we’ve got to make sure the content is easy to consume.

He as well states that DAZN wants to be available on every device possible; they’re on 95 per cent now. You can watch it on your smartphone, tablet, PC or PlayStation 4 and on an Apple TV, too. Now, on that Apple TV, users can even experience a multi screen viewing. Multi view is only available to Apple TV users right now, but should be coming to other devices soon. User Matthias Gindorf liked it a lot.

Fans can watch several games at a time. Furthermore, they can decide which games to see, not like it was a scheduled conference. And they could even tune in to different sports, such as baseball, football or boxing – simultaneously. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been an update from DAZN in terms of when the feature will come to other devices. It shouldn’t take too long, though, if it turns out to be a hit among users. Which it shoul, because it certainly has the right makings, for it strikes the viewers’ interest in absorbing as much content as possible in a digital space. That very aspect correlates with the development of second and third screen (or even tab) usage these days.

What else is in the pipeline?

Therefore, DAZN is cementing its place as the modern users’ go-to platform for sports streaming. As they open up for advertising, brands should consider a suitable and lasting partnership with the service. For it could be a more than valuable investment. That is to say, if DAZN is sports’ Netflix, there’s much more to come from it. We can assume it is going to become a much more global brand. And that’s inevitably good news for any advertiser, league or association banking on the streaming opportunities provided by the service.

Consequently, there will be new features and new deals. And they should all make for a better viewing and generate more fans. So a transition from even more fans, mostly younger ones, to DAZN looks more than just an assumption. We’ll see, but multi screen options and adverts are a good start to merge sports coverage and technology with on demand requirements and global brands’ interests. Most importantly these steps establish the service as possibly the future main source for live streamed football.

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No More TV – Next Generation of Fans is Social

Two-thirds of fans prefer Social Media to TV coverage of football and check Instagram daily for sports content. Fan channels are particularly popular.



The days of gathering in front of a TV to watch football might be over sooner rather than later. Gone are the times, when you had to buy football magazines or the newspapers to finally get the content you crave concerning football teams in other countries or even on other continents. In a digitalised world, reception standards are changing rapidly. Younger fans consume football in another way: they aren’t dependant on TV, check social platforms for the most recent content. To reach them it needs exclusivity but ever more important is to provide news, stories and certainly highlights as soon as possible. The next generations of fans are Digital Natives – and used to nothing but a rich digital experience.

TV as football’s main channel is only hanging on

DAZN, YouTube or Facebook, digital offers from broadcasters: they are the go-to services for a good part of fans, mostly younger ones, these days. As big digital players are overpowering traditional media outlets in terms of income and eventually relevance, football will probably never be experienced like it was in the days before the internet took over. A look at Britain’s society certainly underlines that. The BBC reported last year, that for the first time children aged five to 16 would rather consume programmes and videos on devices such as laptops, smartphones or tablets than on TV, according to the annual Childwise report.

Related to football, a new and extensive study from Media Chain shows how strongly the fans in football’s homeland are tied to digital services. Out of 1.600 fans that have been surveyed, 52 percent said sports news on Social Media is more engaging than traditional TV. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) do prefer Social Media sports coverage over any traditional channel – like TV or newspapers. It shows, when you look at YouTube usage stats. 86 percent check the video platform at least a few times a week for sports content. Especially highlights are of great interest. That’s why DAZN shows game highlights there quickly and club’s and fan channels come up with content like behind-the-scenes material, great goals, talks or press conferences. The Emirates FA Cup does it, too.

49 percent check YouTube even more than once a day. And if you just take people under 24 years of age into account, 72 percent go to the platform at least daily and look for new content.

YouTube is the go-to video channel for fans today, © Media Chain

Interestingly, three-quarters of younger fans (77 percent) follow fan channels on YouTube, such as The Football Republic.

The Football Republic is quite popular amongst football fans on YouTube, screenshot YouTube

But what are the most important other platforms for clubs, players, partners and brands to get to the user’s attention?

Second screen: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter offer a broader experience

Whilst watching football, most fans have their tablet or smartphone at hand. And quite a lot of them are on Social Media during the coverage to get even more information and sports content. 41 percent are on Instagram during games, while 25 percent go to Twitter and 23 percent use Facebook. Notably, fans aged 24 years or younger are 151 percent more likely to be scrolling through stories or their feed on Instagram on a second screen.

Instagram is indeed the new darling amongst the Social Media. 29 percent use it as their main source of football news, and 64 percent check the platform for just that at least once a day. Just 44 percent check Twitter at least once a day for sports news, although the service is much more made for up to the minute highlights and updates. Stories are the most important feature for fans on Social Media these days; 28 percent watch them before even scrolling down their feed.

The Instagram importance cannot be overlooked, © Media Chain

After all, 58 percent of fans go to Facebook everyday as well to consume sports content. And they’d rather watch live football there than on Twitter or Instagram. 90 percent of the younger fan group (up to 24 years) are on Facebook regularly to get some sports content as they are mostly interested in highlights (77 percent), sports news (68 percent) but also in memes or funny content (61 percent).

Popular content types regarding sports on Facebook, © Media Chain

The club’s media teams should be aware of that and provide popular content on these platforms. But they have to supply it rather quickly or the fans will look elsewhere. 57 percent of them prefer to be able to see goals and highlights immediately and not wait for them to appear in broadcast quality later. So promptness even beats quality demands there. If you can offer both, you have a good chance of keeping the fans tied to your channels. And the younger the fans, the more they demand swiftness from media outlets. Apart from that, anything has to be responsive or mobile friendly; apps are a part of the jigsaw as well.

Learning from the study, © Media Chain

Clubs could learn a thing or two from fan channels

Fan channels do have more followers and views than official club channels on YouTube. SPORF, AFTV, Full Time Devils or The Football Republic are very successful on the platform. And clubs are only starting to catch up now. In direct comparison, the top 20 creators from both sections differ strongly in typical month views. Club channels generate 30,3 million, while they have 7,4 million fans. By contrast, the fan channels have 15,8 million followers and generate 91,1 million views in a typical month.

Fan channels have more audience than club channels, for now, © Media Chain

Should the clubs augment their channels, though, and continue to offer a lot of content by the hour nearly, they will surely outpace the fan channels soon as they have the greater appeal eventually. Manchester United have done well there, updating their channel on YouTube very often; and they have assembled 1,4 million followers already. To offer a lot, mainly around matchdays, and provide it quickly is one important factor for keeping the young Social Media-loving audience engaged. But they are always looking for content they can’t get elsewhere. And that’s an important learning for brands and sponsors, too.

How can brands leverage Social Media reception of sports?

For partners and brands Social Media are a great environment to get fans interested. The WWE for example, who own the world’s biggest sports channel on YouTube (39 million followers), are great at partnering with other clubs and gaining exposure on Instagram or Facebook.

The WWE are good at partnering with clubs in Social Media, screenshot Instagram (Arsenal London)

This example from Arsenal’s story could be regarded as content you can’t get elsewhere – or maybe it makes people laugh or at least smile. Fans want just that from any brand. 66 percent expect exlusive content to engage with a brand, while 65 percent want relevant sports offers or benefits.

Interestingly, eight out of ten fans would be open to more sponsorships – and there’s certainly a lot of inventory still to be used in Social Media. But the thought is married to proper offers. Because 44 percent of fans said that brands send them irrelevant offers, 35 percent feel misunderstood and 25 percent think brands are unauthentic. So brands really have to come up with a good performance on Social Media, as fans of the Gen Z and Millenials are 61 percent more likely to share poor experiences with them online.

Brands need to be aware of the challenges on Social Media, © Media Chain

For clubs, this means they should try to integrate partners that fit the club. Hertha BSC from Berlin have had problems with main sponsor TEDI, a discounter without the best image, because people didn’t like the look on the shirt, there were no or relatively few merchandising articles in TEDI stores and the connection seems rather odd.

Finally, the report from Media Chain offers many more statistics concerning fans in the UK. But these habits are surely not too different in other countries like Germany or even the US. The steps brands and clubs should take are also part of the study, which in full might be an interesting read for anyone in the footbal ecosystem. For this ecosystem will have to acknowledge Social Media as the most important environment for its public image. That offers challenges and opportunities alike. And the more the fans can benefit and still their hunger for content, the more the companies – be it a football club or a main sponsor – can capitalise on it.

Watching football on TV is already declining. The next generation(s) of fans are social and definitely demanding.

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Free Streaming to Promise Market Growth? Now Fans Worldwide Benefit

La Liga Segunda will be streamed for free in various markets, while DAZN offers free streams for the Ligue 1 and Coppa Italia in South America. Will it pay off?



You’ll take what you can get for free. With growing opportunities for football fans around the globe to access any game or follow any league or competition they like, there are certainly some kind of openings for football associations and streaming services to generate broader interest in specific competitions. Trying to get more global reach, the Spanish second division as well as games from the Coppa Italia or Ligue 1 will be available for free on YouTube or DAZN’s social channels.

DAZN wants more customers – and offer Brazilians a taste of free streaming

OTT service DAZN has really established itself as a go-to option for viewing football anywhere. Since the company is going to stream games from Italy and France in Brazil for the next few years, it wants to build up its audience in certain markets. That’s why it offered free streams via their social channels for fans in Brazil. Those supporters could therefore follow Coppa Italia clashes or Ligue 1 encounters featuring PSG or Thierry Henry’s AS Monaco, as SporsPro report. Facebook and YouTube were the platforms to provide those games.

But Facebook itself is trying to gain or at least keep users by offering free coverage of Champions League matches in Latin America. From 2018 to 2021 they have free-to-air rights to 32 live matches every season, including the final and UEFA Super Cup. Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA Events SA Director of Marketing, commented:

We look forward to the launch of this new partnership that will ensure the large community of local football fans is reached in a highly innovative and accessible manner.

This very innovative and accessible manner is also a springboard for augmenting the global reach for leagues of arguably less interest; especially if they can be watched for free.

YouTube provides free coverage of second Spanish divison in over 155 countries

The Spanish LaLiga has just announced that nearly everyone in the world will from now on be able to view any game from the second Spanish tier, LaLiga Segunda, live and for free on YouTube. In more than 155 countries fans can follow teams like former champions Deportivo La Coruña or the
FC Málaga. While fans in Spain will have to turn to the official broadcasters and pay, those in Germany, the UK, France, India, New Zealand, Australia and so many others can get free access. The option to follow the games is even more inviting as commentary is in English.

The Spanish second division is free to watch for nearly everyone on YouTube, screenshot YouTube

Apart from the live matches, the official LaLiga 1|2|3 YouTube account will also stream highlight shows. Melcior Soler, director of the LaLiga Audiovisual department, said:

The way we consume live sports is being changed by a new generation of online broadcasters, and we are committed to using such channels to extend the appeal of our competitions. This move will strengthen the LaLiga 1|2|3 by bringing it to an entirely new global audience, in a format that we think will really appeal to the viewer.

Live match on YouTube from the Segunda División, screenshot YouTube

To consume football on a big screen, or even in a stadium, is probably still the most intriguing prospect for fans. But we’re in the age of mobile devices and people get their news and information on their smartphones or tablets, via apps mainly. That very aspect of modern day media usage favours DAZN for example, which has also been strengthened by Japanese marketing giants Dentsu, that have bought stakes at the Perform Group and have given some notable financing.

When everyone is on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, the football associations will need to present their competitions there as well. And free streaming is the best way to get into the fans’ heads and on their phones. Fans who might be convinced to become paying customers sooner rather than later.

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Bundesliga And WSC Sports Partner to Create Customised Content for Fans Abroad

As the first European football league, the Bundesliga will work with AI platform WSC Sports to generate extremely specific highlight clips in real-time.



WSC Sports’ AI technology is able to create intriguing match highlights automatically, in real-time and with reference to specific players. That option makes the service quite interesting for the digital internationalisation strategies of clubs and leagues. The MLB or the MLS are already using it, now the German Bundesliga will take advantage of the opportunities to further strengthen their presence in foreign markets – which will be more important with every seasons passing by.

WSC Sports’ solutions are made for Social Media

Since clubs and Leagues are brands these days, they have to discover new markets abroad and give fans around the world the chance to get experience games or content as easily as possible. Social Media have the advantages of being platforms that are designed for broad distribution and direct contact between players, clubs, leagues and the fans. Twitter is especially useful for updates to the minute. That’s why the FA use the platform to distribute short highlight clips to fans outside the UK, even during the game.

Fans don’t just need the availability of games, they want behind-the-scenes material, updates in the blink of an eye – particularly during the transfer windows – and certainly like customised content. The Bundesliga hold close ties with China for example, hoping to grow a fan base there. So the fans from China would probably be delighted if they got content compilations of Chinese or Asian players. As there are no Chinese players regularly playing in the Bundesliga right now, interest from Asia could circle around South Korean Stars such as Ja-cheol Koo from Augsburg or Hee-chan Hwang, playing for the HSV in the second German tier (2. Bundesliga).

Ja-cheol Koo has been in the Bundesliga for some time, © FC Augsburg

US fans however could be more interested in Christian Pulisic’s performances, although he is going to leave for Chelsea in the summer. English fans might be allured to follow the progress of prodigies such as Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson. So, the Bundesliga will try to reach fans everywhere in the word. The Israeli company WSC Sports will help them from now on, it was confirmed by both parties.

Data gets analysed, specific clips are created promptly

The AI platform from WSC sports offers real-time analysis to recognise important plays and then creates highlight clips for those, which can also be customised. Galit Shiri, WSC’s marketing manager, told us:

WSC Sports’ platform generates personalised sports videos for every digital platform and every sports fan – automatically and in real-time. Currently being used by leading media rights owners such as Turner Sports, NBA, MLS, FIBA, PGA Tour and others, WSC Sports’ platform utilizes advanced AI and Machine Learning technologies to analyse live sports broadcasts, identify each and every event that occurs in the game, create customised short-form video content and publish to any digital destination. This enables partners to instantly generate and distribute professionally edited personalised clips and videos on a large scale, to engage audiences and maximise video monetisation opportunities.

If a certain audience shall be reached, a content director could set the AI platform up to create clips for certain players or certain teams. The AI is able to curate analysed content from live matches and produce valuable video content for further distribution instantaneously. That means content teams can generate various different clips and content pieces without spending too much time on it. Intros, outros, overlays or graphics could still be integrated to potentially emphasise a performance or put it into perspective. All that is interesting to those fans on Social Media, if it is provided in the context of a game or matchday.

Take Sancho as an example, WSC Sports’ technology will use an algorithm to check on the audio feed from matches and whenever Sancho gets mentioned, there will be content taken into consideration. If it’s from a noticeable scene, it might end up in the curated content. For the Bundesliga, media partner will have access to highlight packages after they’ve been curated by an editor.

An editor […] examines each highlights package at the start of the week before media partners can access the clips – created in-house by DFL subsidiary DFL Digital Sports – via the Bundesliga’s B2B-Portal. In the near future, potentially interested licensees will have the chance to gain direct access to the system and establish their own localised clip guidelines.

The machine learning skills from WSC Sports are that mature, even Digiday honoured them as Best Use of AI, while SportTecchie named them winners for their award for Outstanding Sports Technology.

The Europa League and Champions League will see highlight clips created via WSC Sports’ technology on behalf of their partner Bleacher Report who are official streaming partners for the UEFA competitions in the US. The Bundesliga is the first European league to use the advantages of the AI-based technology. They might see an increase in engagement in markets around the globe. And generating awareness for the Bundesliga, with its claim: “Football how its’ meant to be“, has to one of the main goals for a Social Media-perceived world and sports business. AI might bring the international fans the highlight clips of players they want to see; but it takes real people’s decisions to make that possible. Getting the best out of such technology is a decision that should pay off in the future.

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The FA – Tweeting Their Way to Foreign Fans’ Hearts

Twitter will send fans outside the UK FA Cup highlights in Direct Messages via Bot. The service is also going to broadcast AS Roma games and interviews exclusively.



Football is about the moment. In the blink of an eye a match can totally change its direction. That’s what makes it so brilliant, thrilling and what keeps it interesting. There’s always the chance for an upset due to a moment of magic or sheer luck. And nowhere more so than in the FA Cup, the world’s oldest professional cup competition. To align these preconditions with a modern day fan’s reception of football, Twitter have partnered with the FA to provide fans outside the UK with automated highlights of top games via Direct Messages. So there’s no delay in distributing relevant updates. The Emirates FA Cup Twitter feed will provide highlight packages, too. And Twitter keeps on giving to football fans who can follow AS Roma games live on the platform now.

Twitter is a real-time update provider primed for football

The news and social networking platform Twitter is destined for additional information and updates in a sports environment. The platform just answered the users’ calls for more options regarding the timeline or feed. So a button has started to roll out, which allows users to switch between latest and top Tweets.

Moreover, Twitter has experimented with sections for the timeline, a feature that is available in the US only right now.

As there’s a sports section, that very funtion might be quite valuable for football brands in the future.

Twitter has established itself as the ideal platform for discussions during the game, sharing your frustration or enthusiasm, for pundits’ opinions or just spreading useful and sometimes odd facts – as OptaJoe’s account illustrates.

Opta have really found their channel there and the Emirates FA Cup, England’s old and pride – yet somehow slightly disregarded – cup competition, is trying to get global fans on board with the help of the service. As various papers report, users in ten markets like India, the US, Egypt, Brazil etc. will have the opportunity to get live highlights from the Cup sent via Twitter’s Direct Message system. The feature will be available for games played by Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur and the fans will receive eight 30-second clips during the game, a two-minute highlight video from midnight on and ten-minute highlight footage from midday the following day. Fans will just have to register to get the action right on their mobile device (or on desktop) within minutes.

The partnership with Twitter is vital to ensure the competition remains at the forefront of fan engagement and ensures that fans across the world have live access to some of the biggest fixtures, regardless of their daily schedule or location. This approach fits within our overriding strategy to be innovative in delivering experiences in line with how modern fans are consuming sports media and want to engage with the competition in the future,

says Georgina Lewis, the FA’s head of marketing. Broadcast production partner Input Media and content media agency Social Chain will help edit and distribute the highlight clips.

Fans can register to get FA Cup updates via Twitter, © The Drum

The official account of the Emirates FA Cup will also tweet to keep fans following their feeds informed with highlight packages after matches and content like Goal of the Round.

There’s nothing like an old-fashioned cup tie,

that’s what the FA say about the competition. It’s true when you look back at the unlikely 2008 final between Portsmouth and Cardiff or Wigan Athletic’s unexpected win in 2013 – when they were relegated. So Twitter might just be the right channel to spread the FA Cup’s old-fashioned magic to users worldwide, in a digitalised and ever more fast-moving world. The Premier League has 18,7 million followers on Twitter, the FA Cup only 206k; and the Bundesliga 2,12 million.

Opportunities to get fans engaged

Twitter is fast becoming a preferred option for clubs, leagues, brands and those connected to the football business. Tweets and Direct Messages enable them to get fans not only informed but also engaged with sponsors or club values.

European top club AS Roma have even secured a first-of-a-kind deal with the company, which makes exclusive content and live games available to followers of AS Roma’s 15 Twitter accounts. Training sessions and interviews will also be shown after a test in this year’s pre-season was deemed successful.

Roma’s innovative and award-winning social media strategy has been widely hailed as a ‘game-changer’ in the world of sport and we’re delighted to have become the first club in Italy to enter into this kind of commercial partnership with Twitter. The new deal will enable us to deliver an even more engaging experience to our fans and followers, bringing them even closer to the club, and also allow us to deliver increased exposure and value to new and existing sponsors.

said Francesco Calvo, Chief Revenue Officer at AS Roma. The club have a great Social Media strategy and use Twitter particularly well. Announcing Aleksandar Kolarov as a Roma player in hilarious fashion certainly shows their prowess.

Becoming popular on Twitter, maybe viral even, is a good achievement for a football brand. And that’s what the FA might hope for, albeit with another approach. Tweeting your way to the fans’ hearts is a new way to stay on their minds – and in their feeds.

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DFL And ProSiebenSat.1 Group Give eSports Prime Time Exposure

The DFL have struck a partnership with media outlet ProSiebenSat.1 to make sure that games from the German Virtual Bundesliga are made accesible to a bigger audience.



The Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) is responsible for all operational business concerning the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga. Together with EA Sports they have initiated the Virtual Bundesliga, sponsored by TAG Heuer, and its Club Championship will start in January next year with 22 clubs participating. Fans’s favorites like the HSV or Schalke 04 have their teams taking part and will certainly lure some viewers. To make sure the growing eSports section for FIFA 19 generates as much attention as possible, the DFL partner with ProSiebenSat.1, showing a Featured Match on free TV, per livestream and providing relevant news on their internet platforms each week.

A new eSports studio for the Featured Match

ProSiebenSat.1 will show one Featured Match from the Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship, which takes place between January and March 2019. The first of those will be SV Werder Bremen vs RB Leipzig. Werder’s duo, Michael “MegaBit“ Bittner und Mohammed “MoAuba“ Harkours is currently among the five best in the world, so they might be early favorites.

MoAuba and MegaBit are certainly a threat in the new VBL Club Championship, © Werder Bremen

Their first game will a special one in terms of coverage. A Featured Match consists of three games, two of them one-on-one, the final one two vs two. But on January 17th ProSiebenSat.1 will not only show that Featured Match live on ProSieben MAXX at Prime Time (20.15 or quarter past 8 PM in Germany), which is free TV, but also via livestream on ran.de and prosiebenmaxx.de. Apart from the actual game, there will be pre-match analyses, interviews, featured content and additional information for fans. Furthermore, the highlights and contextual news will appear on those websites, too.

Max Zielke will be a moderator, whereas changing commentators will give their voices to make the experience more entertaining. For the very entertainment part of it, ProSiebenSat.1 have even built a new genuine eSports studio.

More than the one Featured Match will be presented

Apart from the Featured Matches, similar to the Premier League’s Match of the Day, there will be selected scenes from various other matches that should give viewers more of a holistic perspective. For it is actually a real sports championship, the Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship, not a tiny gaming contest. That’s why the DFL had come to the fore to create the first cooperation of a professional football league with EA Sports and the very first EA Sports FIFA-integrated competition overall.

Now the DFL and ProSiebenSat.1 will give the ever growing number of eSports fans the opportunity to view the best FIFA 19 eSports stars in action for their respective clubs. 21 matchdays offer 693 single games in 231 matches.

You can download the full fixture list here.

The Virtual Bundesliga has already established itself, © DFL

Last season’s final was already shown live on free TV, brought to the audience by Sport1, and the fans could also turn to a livestream on sport1.de, to Facebook or YouTube Live. Nielsen Sports’ Lars Stegelmann had explained that football and eSports are a match not matter what.

Football and eSports are closely related, which interests of the fanbases show, © Nielsen Sports

The Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship promises to be exciting and will be able to transfer that excitement to many more fans and interested ones in Germany in particular. That exposure might help clubs and the league to generate more sponsors and more income. But football clubs and media brands like ProSiebenSat.1 do have the big opportunity to really catch on and make themselves a popular option for a young generation of fans and convince even more people of the entertainment factor that eSports possess. And as more people get curious, so the surroundings for extended marketing get strengthened. Germany and the DFL have set an example and other countries might follow. So we await the first Featured Match in January, when the Bundesliga restarts, too. Maybe one day the football/eSports fans will follow the Bundesliga and the Virtual Bundesliga in a similar manner: with passion and excitement and on the biggest channels, big time.

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Inter Milan Enter TikTok – Reaching Out to A New Generation of Fans

Inter Milan have appointed Giuseppe Marotta as CEO, yet their engagement on music app TikTok might be just as valuable for the club.



The appointment of Giuseppe Marotta, a former successful Juventus Turin executive, probably has the whole club of Inter Milan buzzing. The team around cult hero Mauro Icardi, managed by Luciano Spaletti, currently sit third in the Serie A. Signings such as Stefan de Vrij or Radja Nainggolan might be an indicator that Inter is once again close to rival the mighty Juve. While crashing out of the Champions League due to a draw with PSV hasn’t helped their cause, Inter do set the ball rolling when it comes to the expansion of commercial commitment and digital exposure.

TikTok is a popular app and clubs realise that, too

As Inter president Steven Zhang has put it when he referred to Marotta’s engagement:

This is an important change for the Club in line with our objective of becoming a winning football club and a successful company. As Inter, we want to win, entertain, inspire and connect people through football.

So not all of the club’s development is visible on the football field. Some of it rather takes place far from it. Inter have broken new grounds as they’ve created their very own account on the Chinese video portal TikTok. TikTok, better known as Douyin in China, is the heir to the popular app Musical.ly. A mostly young audience use this Social Media platform to create playback videos. TikTok is not only the biggest short video platform in China but was also the most downloaded app in the App Store in the first quarter of 2018. Today it has more than 500 million monthly users worldwide.

Now the Italian club want to strengthen their visibility in that very Social app, which offers exposure in 150 markets in the world – as it is available in 75 languages. Inter will use TikTok to offer fans and those who they’d like to become fans exclusive content such as behind-the-scenes material, special goal celebrations, match highlights, archive footage or some very special fan choreographies. Futhermore, there will be specific messages from stars of the team. Alessandro Antonello, who is FC Internazionale Milano’s CEO for Corporate, as Marotta is focused on the sports management, explains:

After opening a Douyin account focusing on the Chinese market a few months ago, we are happy to now have an international presence on TikTok, a platform that caters to a very young audience. This marks a new step which will help us to further expand our fanbase globally. It is a continuation of the path we’ve taken through Inter Media House as we look to create and share digital content relevant in various marketing contexts and to different age groups.

TikTok’s partnership manager for Italy, Normanno Pisani, thinks TikTok is just the right channel to connect with a new kind of fan, internationalised and Social Media-loving:

As one of the biggest and most-loved football teams in the world, we’re excited to welcome Inter on to our platform. TikTok provides a great opportunity for Inter to connect with its millions of fans across the globe and we’re excited to follow all of the action.

The fact one can read those news in Italian, English, Japanese and Chinese shows how eager Inter Milan are to grow their global audience. Apart from those supporters based in Italy there have always been quite a lot foreign fans. So the club continues to live up to it’s meaningful name.

Inter have their own account on TikTok, Screenshot TikTok

Relationships with Asian companies

It’s probably no surprise that Inter have close relationships to Asia as their chairman Zhang originates from China. The club has announced LETOU as their first online gaming partner from Asia, based on the Philippines, back in August. Millions of fans in Asia will be targeted with that partnership. Beside engagements such as this, Inter have just had the success of having their academy in Hong Kong voted for Best Youth Academy as part of the city’s ‘Most Valuable Companies’.

Inter have excelled with their academy in Hong Kong, © Inter Milan

Now Steven Zhang only turns 27 this month. So he will know what a younger, tech-savvy and mediatised generation of users and fans who spend a great amount of time everyday in apps, and on Social Media in particular, expects from clubs or rather brands in football business. The combination of exclusivity and multi-media entertainment on the emergent and ever so well used app TikTok is certainly a step in the right direction to interact with fans abroad and at home. For the very young fans will rather turn to YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and what have you to get in touch with their team of bond – or choice. Other clubs could and should follow Inter Milan’s example to take advantage of TikTok’s rise.

TikTok sessions are on the rise since Musical.ly is part of it (click to enlarge), © Apptopia

New digital channels provide any football club with various opportunities. Time to explore them all, so a football brand will be made accessible and enjoyable, tailored really for any kind of fan group or audience in just the fitting manner.

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Blinkfire Analytics Augments Social Performance Measurements for Clubs and Brands



Stories on Instagram, real time data sharing of live action on Twitter or the obligatory post of a matchwinner’s celebration on Facebook. There is simply no way football clubs can keep away from a holistic Social Media strategy. Those platforms drive engagement, keep fans in contact and provoke interactions, which – for the ultimate goal in terms of the economy behind all that – might as well transform into conversions if certain CTA are included. But Social Media are not only for the club itself, but its various partners ever so important. They turn to clubs to get the attention and visibility they crave for their brand. And what better way is there to get just that than appearing on social platforms that are increasingly based on visual content and consumers’ interests? Blinkfire Analytics uses AI to rate a brand’s sponsoring success related to Social Media posts. And for that aim Blinkfire now measures WeChat posts, too, whereas a new Media Tab in the reporting section will offer insights into exposure gained through posts from other organisations.

Blinkfire tracks exposure on WeChat

WeChat is such a big platform, it’s just that it’s not commonly used in the Western world. Still, close to a billion users account for some audience and football clubs know that. They tend to have accounts on WeChat or Sina Weibo to bring their brand right to the Chinese football fans’ attention. That’s why Blinkfire Analytics, a company that offers measurement and thereby options for optimisation of Social Media performance, starts to support Tencents WeChat when they analyse how different club sponsors or partners are exposed in a variety of social posts.

WeChat follower and engagement numbers are private data, so only the owned and operated entity of that account will be able to see those numbers and rankings throughout the platform, including the homepage, Media Kit, and Daily Engagement.

Example post from West Ham United for WeChat, © Blinkfire Analytics

Blinkfire also supports Vkontakte, Russia’s leading social platform. That means the company does give its clients a broader look at their social impact, beyond the already established fan bases. And it’s those fans in China, Russia or maybe even the USA, that clubs and brands alike want to reach out to more in order to strengthen fan engagement and eventually income from those supporters.

Blinkfire allows clients like VfB Stuttgart, the Austrian Bundesliga, FC St.Pauli, LaLiga and Co. to get a detailed overview over Social Media analytics. There’s also the BrandSpotter, technology for brand detection that “finds brands and scenes in images and videos across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more.“

Blinkfire’s BrandSpotter for FC Barcelona, © Blinkfire

Furthermore it is possible to value social inventory in real time by comparing previous and current data and one check that value for different periods. Lastly Blinkfire also offers options to track OTT, VOD and Streaming services to make sure you keep an overview over brand exposure or engagement on those channels.

The new Media Tab informs about external posts

There’s actually more news from Blinkfire, that has set the sports industry alight by combining the importance of brands’ exposure with opportunities to track and measure just that in today’s parallel universe of Social Media, which is very much the bedrock for new branding campaigns.

As there are other posts than those that can be counted as owned content, the value of posts from the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga or rival teams can also drive value to sponsors who appear in them. Therefore Blinkfire Analytics has established a new Media Tab for their reporting. It does show the impact of posts from Sport Media Companies. But not just their posts are tracked, thanks to the rollout of “Other Entities“ rightholders can analyse the exposure generated by organisations, different clubs, federations or leagues as well.

If the Premier League or say Opta puts a post on Twitter that contains visuals of specific players in a shirt, exposure for the sponsors is surely generated there, too.

The Permier League showing Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Standard Chartererd, in a post, © Blinkfire

The social listening and measurement of social posts linking to brands is effectively augmented thanks to that new reporting feature. With Social Media being the most relevant cosmos for fans to follow their teams, live and throughout the week, clubs and brands will only reinforce their options to get in touch with them on those various platforms. And as those fans from China or India become more valuable for sports industries’ partnerships between a club brand and the brand of their sponsors, it is indeed increasingly important to appear on WeChat and stay active on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. So Blinkfire Analytics as well as other companies like Nielsen Sports offer ways to really estimate the performance of social posts in an evermore digital football universe, with a definite financial value to show for it. That might also help to recruit new sponsors. And that’s what football business is very much about these days, too.

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