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Great Expectations: The Football Issue

Published on Tuesday, 10th October 2017, contributed by e3

A deep dive report into digital disruption in the football sector

Digital disruption in the football sector is changing the way ‘the beautiful game’ is both consumed and played. In this timely insight report we reveal the seven expectations gaps between consumers and sports brands and warn sponsors and the media to adopt a fan first strategy – or face permanent relegation.

Fans and young players are turning to digital channels in their millions. They love the 24/7 fix and engaging in authentic content generated for and by them. Global engagement in the game is exploding and its reach is changing, with professional women’s leagues closing the gender gap and the youth market turning to freestyle, a new variant on the game, played and watched by millions around the world. It’s independent and raw, it’s skill-based and you don’t need an 11-aside or to rent an expensive pitch to play it.

Football as live entertainment is taking a new twist too. The Wembley Cup for example, plays to a packed audience of young fans and sees amateur YouTube football stars competing against a team of legends, all voted for by their online audience. The digital generation is leaving the Premier League stadiums behind – the average attendee age is now estimated to be a staggering 49.

There are huge opportunities for sports brands willing to sacrifice the old model and its expensive partnerships in favour of evolving their business and creating new products and services to better meet the rising expectations of today’s consumer.

The figures speak for themselves:

•  Sky Sports’ has 5 million online subscribers, while the Ball Street Network of fan channels engages with over 50 million people around the world

•  Twitch, the leading hub for eSports, has over 100 million active monthly users

•  Copa90’s Saturdays are Lit Snapchat show garnered 49 million views globally last season

•  The World Freestyle Football Association attracts on average 60 million YouTube hits each month

James Kirkham, Head of Copa90 

“We don’t believe that a diet solely of old media can any longer satisfy the appetite of a modern football fan.”

Robbie Lyle, founder, ArsenalFanTV

“There’s a massive market out there that’s not being exploited at the moment. It’s a changing world and you’ve got to change with it.”

You can download your free copy of the report here.

Following a successful launch at the Festival of Marketing, Digital Transformation Stage on Oct 5, we are now open to press enquiries, with authors and contributors available for interview upon request. 

Please send all media enquiries to sophie.harris@e3.co.uk