Dec 02, 2020

How Football Adapted to Post-Pandemic Reality

How Football Adapted to Post-Pandemic Reality

According to the official WHO announcements, COVID-19 pandemic began on March 12th, 2020. Since then, sports and football clubs have developed various methods of adapting to the new reality. We’ve benchmarked them but not all the conclusions can be made yet.

Nevertheless, there is some essential information you should keep in mind in order to be well-prepared for the post-COVID reality.

  • What changed during the pandemic;
  • How to change the revenue streams;
  • How to make use from your data.

BALANCE YOUR BUDGET FOR UNPREDICTABLE FUTURE

Match Day revenues dropped dramatically. Depending on the countries’ regulations, they either went down by more than 80% or even completely disappeared. It constitutes a proof for the sports clubs and federations that they should plan their budget so that it’s balanced and dependent on many equally strong components.

The uncertainty about the Match Day revenues made some of the clubs worry too much about the decisions of the governments instead of focusing on the actions that are entirely dependent on them. One of the reasons for such behaviour was that broadcasters, commercial partners and sponsors were also about to face severe financial challenges.

Sometimes, they wanted to renegotiate the contracts due to the decrease in the fans’ attendance and the number of their interactions with the sports brands. The winners here were those organisations that concentrated on moving their Fan Engagement from their stadiums to the internet.


Control the controllables!

How Football Adapted to Post-Pandemic Reality

Another issue relates to the revenues from players transfers. CIES Football Observatory, specialists in the statistical analysis of the football industry, recently published a document showing the impact of the pandemic on the transfers expenditures in the TOP 5 European leagues [England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France].

There’s one main conclusion. Big brands may keep spending less. The total value of transfers in 2020 was lower by more than 30% in comparison to 2019. We should realise that the less money there is for the investments at the top of the ladder, the more difficult the situation becomes for the medium-sized sports clubs, which base their business models on that.

It’s anticipated that those sports clubs that rely too heavily on transfers and Match Day revenues will have to face the most difficult challenges. This may be especially true in countries such as Switzerland and Scotland, where these figures reach up to even 47% for the former. That was extensively discussed in the KNOW THE SCORE with Olivier Jarosz.

That’s why the demand for a balanced budget becomes even stronger than before. 

NEW REVENUE STREAMS

However, the question that immediately appears in our minds when we discuss it is: “What can sports clubs do to balance their budget?” 

The real issue for them is to create new revenue streams or enhance the already existing alternatives. There are two hints that we could notice during the first wave of the pandemic.

As typical Match Day marketing became tough to perform due to COVID-19 regulations, sports clubs needed to find new ways of building communication with their supporters. There was no change here – delivering appealing content remained crucial for enhancing Fan Engagement. 

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, many organisations were considering whether investing in OTT is a good idea. The last months proved that the higher your acquaintance with video creation, the greater your chance to attract your fans. 

Those sports clubs that managed to go beyond football with their content seem to be the winners of the battle to engage fans in these difficult times. Videos showing workouts, training, interviews or charity actions – that’s what attracts modern fans. Another argument for video content is that it can be easily reinvented, recycled and monetised.

How Football Adapted to Post-Pandemic Reality

Additionally, in one of its reports, Nielsen showed that more than 20% of sports consumers tend to watch live streams of video games. For Generations Y&Z the numbers were even higher as the researchers pointed to even 45%. That was smartly used by some of the sports clubs that engaged their real athletes in Esports competition. Building community through online video gaming seems to be the right path to attract younger generations. “Are Virtual Leagues an Alternative for Traditional Sports Clubs? Take a look.

Lastly, but probably most importantly, sports clubs should consider conducting a digital transformation process in their organisations. Socios.com founder, Alexandre Dreyfus, in one of our KNOW THE SCOREs emphasised the uniqueness of the sports industry, which is “one of the rare industries that haven’t been disrupted by the technology in the last twenty years”.

Not only do digital solutions and products constitute the most efficient way to communicate with your supporters, but they also form the best method to collect and segment the data about your fanbase. 

DATA AS A SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE FOR (POTENTIAL) SPONSORS

Collecting and processing data in order to obtain insights about customers is what made many businesses successful during the first wave of the pandemic. The best examples here come from other branches of the economy, where companies such as Netflix, Facebook or Amazon managed to use the figures they gather to precisely target their customers.

Similarly, like all the other fields, sponsorship is changing. Naturally, companies still want to invest in brands that have the largest group of recipients. However, the competition is strong, and business partners will tend to choose those clubs that guarantee the highest probability of successful marketing campaigns.

How can you achieve it? By showing them that you have well-developed digital marketing platforms where you communicate with your supporters and gather precise data about them.


That’s what TISA offers. The combination of three products – UMPIRE, BRISK and WICKET – gives you all the tools you need to create compelling social media communication, build community and manage insightful data.

How Football Adapted to Post-Pandemic Reality


Currently, sponsors are looking for proof that the audience which theoretically matches their needs will also be interested in their products and services in practice. The easiest way to determine it is by analysing the fanbase with the help of insightful data. 

The better the understanding of your fanbase, the greater the probability of signing new sponsorship contracts!

Still not sure if you already have enough knowledge about your supporters (and other followers of your club!)? Check if you have answers to these questions:

  • Who are your supporters and followers?
  • In what demographic groups can you segment them?
  • How do you engage them in your brand?
  • How do they want to be engaged?
  • What channels/tools/methods do you use to communicate with them?
  • Have you already conducted a successful marketing campaign for an external company?
  • Can you explain why it was successful (with data)?
  • What are your supporters and followers interested in apart from your brand? (% data needed!)
  • What/Which people have the most significant influence on your fanbase?


Make sure you know the answers to these questions and, consequently, gain a competitive advantage on the market!

Strong Brand + Insightful Data ⇒ The Recipe for Success

GENERATIONS Y&Z AND “CORE FANS”

Gen Z is accelerating what Gen Y has already started and what concerns broadly understood digital transformation. Already, around 51% of the global population are people born after 1980! And each year their number, social status and decision power will increase. Thus, it would be best if you had a strategy on how to approach them.

Young people are digital natives and prefer to communicate with the use of their mobile phones. That’s the statement that is quite easy to defend! However, what Sebastian Kube mentioned at the FUTURE OF FOOTBALL BUSINESS Conference is precise data that might be directly used in the sports clubs’ communication strategies.

“Gen Y&Z is twice more convenient to watch games and programmes on mobile apps and twice more willing to pay a provider for online video streams than Baby Boomers”. 

How Football Adapted to Post-Pandemic Reality

COVID-19 will accelerate this evolution as people were forced to stay at home; hence, they spent more time scrolling through various websites and mobile applications. Those organisations that will be able to make use of it might benefit the most in the long-term.

Besides, digital solutions seem to be the right method to approach “core fans” such as season-ticket purchasers. As stadiums got closed, there appeared a need to transfer the Match Day experience to other places. From what we can see, mobile applications and websites tend to be the best way to keep a connection with your fans. 

Interesting fact: Did you know that currently, Real Sociedad supporters receive more than 80% of the information from the club on their mobile phones? It’s just one of the real-life examples proving what the best way to approach “modern fans” in a new post-COVID era will be.


That’s what we noticed at TISA a couple of years ago – that’s also the reason why we offer UMPIRE with Match Centre where you can share exclusive materials from the game as the action unfolds on the pitch.



CONCLUSION

Revolutions happen when people are hungry for new solutions and opportunities. COVID-19 proved that those clubs that have resources to remain flexible, agile and innovative have the greatest chance to overcome obstacles. Stabilisation can only be achieved if you have many independent revenue streams.

Technological solutions such as CMS, CMR, SSO, Blockchain, OTT (and many more!) may facilitate your process of creating a strong brand with stable financial resources. Empower your fans, increase trust and gather your community in one place by implementing innovative digital products!

***

Are you looking for more information about digital transformation in the sports industry? Visit our website to learn more about dedicated products and innovations designed for sports. To find out more about how TISA can help your organisation thrive in the digital world, contact us directly – we will be happy to talk about your case. And if you’d like to join our team and help us create the best digital solutions for the world of sports, check out our current career opportunities.