Each month, we're rounding up the best of the digital action in sport. Here's what made the headlines in April, and the start of May.
The rise and glory of Leicester City Football Club from a sporting standpoint has hardly gone undocumented, so we won’t repeat it! From a social media standpoint, however, there are some more interesting facts to be looked at.
On the day of the win:
- There were three million tweets about Leicester’s title win on the day of the East Midland club's victory. BBC Sport illustrated other peaks in tweeting along the way to their rise to victory.
- Twitter, meanwhile, drew attention to an unprecedented 86% increase on normal Twitter activity in the UK, triggered by Leicester winning the league.
Sport Techie has highlighted some whole-season growth stats for LCFC:
- Facebook saw the biggest social media leap in fans, growing by more than four million from July 2015 to May 2016 (from half a million fans to four and a half million fans, bearing in mind that the city's entire population barely reaches 330,000).
- Leicester City's Instagram followers jumped from 40,000 to almost 700,000, an increase of 1557%.
- The club's Twitter followers increased fourfold, with the biggest single follower increase occurring after defeating Man City on 6 February and growing 11%.
Meanwhile Jamie Vardy, the club’s star striker, has retained some impressive stats of his own:
- Vardy's personal Twitter has seen a 947% increase in followers over the course of the season. (For comparison, Ronaldo saw 14% growth, Rooney 11.5%, and Aguero 11.85%).
- Vardy's most engaged with post on Twitter was an image in response to goading from Spurs striker Harry Kane.
- Vardy is sponsored by Nike, and a mere three tweets for the brand this year from him generated over $73,000 in engagement value.
Not to be outdone, Liverpool FC set a themselves Twitter record before Leicester secured their title; LFC’s dramatic 4-3 win against Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League was the most tweeted about event in the UK up to April. At the time of Dejan Lovren’s winning goal, tweets peaked at 53,000 a minute.
Live streaming sports
The decision to begin live streaming sporting events, via legal channels to entice fans away from illegal streams, is rapidly increasing. The examples below highlight how the biggest social media platforms are increasingly choosing to stream games and matches around the world.
- Twitter: Twitter beat out rivals such as Amazon and Facebook to win the rights to live stream the NFL’s Thursday night football games. The platform will stream ten games, in-game highlights and live interviews.
- Snapchat: The photo and video platform has won the right to broadcast the 2016 Rio Olympics, striking a deal with NBC and forming the first time a social media platform will share video content from an Olympic Games. The deal means that Snapchat won’t have to pay for the content, and NBC will be able to attract the interest of users who stay away from live TV.
- BT and YouTube: Broadcaster BT Sport have won the rights to this season’s Uefa Champion’s League and Europa League finals and will broadcast them both live on YouTube for free.
However, it has been declared (in a panel discussion at Advertising Week Europe) that this kind of live streaming is a 'ticking time bomb' for broadcasters. It was suggested that as major global competitions over the rights to broadcast sports have ballooned in value, 'over the top' providers (with more money) such as YouTube and Twitter are going to be disruptive in the global sports broadcasting space.
Facebook live; for all your kit launch needs
Facebook Live, the network's live streaming service, is quickly becoming the go-to platform for sports organisation's kit releases this season. The platform choice works as it allows followers of the clubs' accounts and the general public alike to watch kit launches live, without having to subscribe, and to then share the content immediately.
Manchester United launched their 2016/17 season's kit via Facebook Live last week, taking viewers out onto the pitch accompanied by Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and a presenter to give fans an exclusive look before the kit was broadcast on other platforms.
This followed the lead of Chelsea FC who did the same last week, featuring Eden Hazard and Ruben Loftus-Cheek removing tracksuit tops to reveal the new kit underneath. Their video attracted almost a million views after being up for seven hours, and now has almost three million.
In April, the UK Olympics team used diver Tom Daley to take viewers behind the scenes and talk to other members of Team GB before launching the brand new Adidas Team GB kit, to mark 100 days until the Olympics start. The Canadian Olympic team followed the same route, with MTV Canada presenters introducing several Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls adorned in the Canadian kits.
A connected stadiums update: The Euros
We took a look a little while ago at what can be learnt from connected stadiums in the US. This month, Stadia Solutions and Digital Sport have produced a two part guide (Part One and Part Two) to the stadium tech that fans can expect, including Lyon’s brand new and fully connected Parc OL, which has it's own in-stadium app featuring food ordering, navigation guides and unique videos.
In addition, Parc OL has 300 IPTV screens (and Bordeaux has 500) which allow different content to be broadcast throughout the stadiums. Connectivity was marked as a priority for the Euros in France, with nearly 50,000 miles of fibre cable laid by Orange to ensure that 4G is available in all stadiums, as well as a zone around the stadiums. Four of the french stadiums (Lyon, Bordeaux, Nice and the Stade de France) will be fully Wifi-enabled too.
Reporting on reports
In the latest in digital sport reports, Repucom's Sport Online report looks into how sport exists in a world of connectivity, and focuses on eSports (the rise of professional eSports competitions and it’s transition into the mainstream), broadcast (the changing of consumer habits and the impact of technological advances), and social (how high-quality content and strategy can help monetise social media). Statistical insights include:
- Global eSports revenue growth is projected to hit $1072m by 2019, as it sits at $463 million now, with a global audience of 180m by 2019;
- 62% of people also go on the internet whilst watching sport on TV, 49% of people use social media platform, and 47% use apps;
- 78% of people watch TV to gather information about sports, 49% use social media, and 49% use mobile devices;
RadiumOne's study into mobile sport trends has concluded that Euro 2016 is likely to be a 'second-screen-fest', with huge numbers of fans looking for and sharing content online:
- 66% of those planning to watch Euro2016 live on TV will use an second device at the same time;
- 73% of those will use smartphones, 64% laptops;
- 60% of British fans expect to share content online, with 40% of those planning to do it up to three to four times a day.
Other digisport developments:
- American Rugby online: The newly formed North American Rugby League is definitely one to keep an eye on in terms of digital - they have declared that they intend to to use social to attract a new, young American audience to the sport.
- Screens on seats: Istanbul club Besiktas have unveiled their new stadium. The £90m Vodafone Arena has installed screens in the back to seats to allow fans to watch replays during matches.
- Euroleague Esports: The Euroleague wants each of its basketball teams to have a corresponding eSports team, injecting 'sense of structure and professional clout' into the growing sport.
- Dual screen bbq: And finally, in a very American development, DirecTV and Ogilvy have come up with ‘Grill in Picture’, allowing sports viewers to keep an eye on their barbecue in the corner of their TV whilst watching sports at the same time.