As the sports industry prepares for a very different summer of competition, omnichannel advertising platform Mediaocean has partnered with consumer insight specialist GWI to launch new research to demonstrate how changes in engagement are set to give fans of the forthcoming Euros football tournament the full experience, even without in-person attendance.
Speaking to 23,073 sports fans across 15 markets, this new research shows that 19 per cent of Internet users globally, and 40 per cent of those in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK) follow the Euros. While this is a lower audience share than the Olympics, which draws 64 per cent of users globally, the Euros tournament stands apart in the level of commitment and passion shown by its fans. Compared to the average sports fan, they’re 61 per cent more likely to watch sports online every day. Olympics watchers, for comparison, are 21 per cent more likely to do so.
“While the Euros explores a new format, taking place across Europe and with much reduced crowds, fans at home will be turning to digital and social media, both enriching their experience of live games and keeping up-to-date through always-on content,” advises Aaron Goldman, CMO, Mediaocean. “2020 was a year when major events were delayed and people made all aspects of their lives digital-first. Brands and media companies followed suit, providing new ways to engage audiences across screens. When it comes to the Euros, there are many reasons why this will be a competition unlike any we’ve seen before, and the race to attract the attention of football fans will be hotly-contested.”
According to the research, the passionate intensity which football attracts is world-renowned, and that extends to the ways that fans interact with the sport. Global Euros followers are 44 per cent more likely than the average sports fan to follow teams and players on social media, and 54 per cent more likely to listen to sports radio and podcasts. By contrast, sports fans who watch the Olympics are just 16 per cent and 18 per cent more likely to engage with sports teams/players on social media and through radio or podcasts, respectively.
The research found particularly strong differences between Euros watchers and the average sports fan in the UK:
Globally, 74 per cent of Euros fans watch highlights or recaps on TV at least once a week, and 68 per cent do so online at least once a week, showing the ways in which the tournament will spread its influence well beyond the time allotted for the matches themselves. While 49 per cent of Euros fans say that they attend professional sports events, the 87 per cent who watch sports on TV or online is closely followed by the 78 per cent who watch recaps.
“Seeing all the different ways in which people will interact with the tournament, and the breadth of activities they pursue while watching, confirms that broadcasters now need a really dynamic multichannel offering to give fans what they want,” notes Goldman. “TV is more than just TV – it’s the conversations, the interactions, the catch-ups and the bonus content, everything that drums up the passion and excitement of people who love football.”
Globally, a clear majority of Euros fans say that they browse the Internet and use social media while watching games – at 61 per cent each. In the UK alone, people planning to follow the Euros are around 20 per cent more likely than general sports fans to browse social media during games. Numbers from the UK also highlight the strong community basis that football enjoys, with Euros fans being 40 per cent more likely than the average sports fan to message people during matches.
When it comes to social media, the data shows that Euros fans in Europe are only slightly more likely than average to use platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube and just as likely to use TikTok, an official sponsor of the Euros this year.
“It was a savvy move on TikTok’s part to sponsor the Euros and reach out in a way that can really expand its base and help cement its position after a meteoric rise over the last year,” says Goldman. “For marketers, this is the kind of detail that can really make a campaign sing: every detail of this research shows how the opportunity goes well beyond mid-game advertising to everywhere that consumers consume. Meeting fans where they are – including a new influx onto TikTok – is the bedrock of intelligent, effective campaigns. It’s also important to consider regional nuances as Twitter over-indexes in the US and Facebook in APAC.”
The research also confirmed that the tournament is a sizable opportunity for marketers. Globally, 43 per cent of Euros fans say that they are more likely to purchase a brand or product which sponsors their favourite league or team, and 54 per cent say that they are likely to think more positively about brands that do so.
“It’s exciting for all of us that banner events like the Euros are back on the table this year,” comments Katie Gilsenan, Trends Manager at GWI. “Sports are a huge part of many people’s lives, and tournaments like this play a huge role in bringing people together. This new GWI Sports data set shows how people will find ways to make the Euros a point of social contact even when meeting in person might be harder than usual. For businesses, success starts with understanding your audience and how people actually think and feel, and that makes up-to-date, trustworthy data a vital asset.”
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