Jan 21, 2021

WFS Live Summary – Business Insights From the Football Industry

WFS Live Summary – Business Insights From the Football Industry

World Football Summit has been hosting WFS Live conferences for the sports industry since 2016. Obtaining knowledge at the intersection of business, technology and football from the global specialists is a must to stay in the game with implementing top-quality products and services in your club.

Listening to experts talking about the new monetisation opportunities, growing importance of data and digital innovation in the sports industry. That’s what we’d been doing for the whole week at the WFS Live summit.

What key insights will we get from it?

  • How to create new revenue streams in Football,
  • Why data become crucial in creating precise strategies,
  • How to measure digital engagement

NEW REVENUE STREAMS IN FOOTBALL

Football clubs are constantly looking for new monetisation opportunities. Apart from their sports’ results, what gives them the power to influence their budget is the level at which they manage to engage their fans. 

The better the actions they take, the easier it is for them to find new sponsors. What Maheta Molango, former CEO at Real Mallorca, emphasised is the sports brands ability to create content that goes beyond football:

If you want to expand your community, you need to find a way to attract new groups to your organisation. That’s why creating a story that goes beyond football is a must. We have great examples of Liverpool F.C. and Leeds United F.C. that prove how you can approach it. 

Dr Shaji Prabhakaran, president at Football Delhi, emphasised the importance of big brands cooperation with partners that are lower in the business hierarchy. – In the long term, isolating the top clubs from others will be a great tragedy for all the representatives of the football industry. 

We already see that football seems to lose some of the Millennials because of the lack of proper engagement actions. If we also forget about the potential football fans from less “enriched places”, we can end up with difficulty to fight with other mainstream alternatives.

WFS Live Summary – Business Insights From the Football Industry

The amount of financial resources that football clubs spend on digital solutions is increasing tremendously. Paulo Carito, director at Lega Pro, highlighted the benefits coming from the investments in the tools such as OTT:

OTT seems to be the best way to catch future generations. The young prefer to consume content in the shortest possible time. Gen Y&Z constantly switch between laptops and mobile phones. Thanks to OTT, they will be allowed to follow the most important sports events live, wherever they are. 

What’s also worth mentioning is the Maheta Molango thoughts on the sports clubs operation. – Football clubs need to find the right balance between sports (passion) and business (company). First, become a top class club. Then, join the top class community. Working in the other way, creates a huge risk of failure. 

Besides, Maheta referred to the football clubs’ need to provide content at the level that fans expect. It’s possible only with the right digital solutions. – I think there is a vast opportunity in Europe in terms of increasing the amount of money fans spend on Match Day. There is a huge gap between what fans spend here in Europe and what they do in the United States. For me, the starting point is that if I want them to spend more money, I need to know as much as possible about them. Today, the digital solutions allow you to know who they are, the preferences they have, how they behave and many more!

“INVESTMENT IN PRECISE DATA WILL PAY OFF”

The use of data may make the difference between the top and medium sports clubs. A proper combination of statistical figures and human interference is needed to achieve qualitative results. 

Victor Orta, director of football at Leeds United F.C., indicated that data is needed to be ahead of your competition both in the sports results and in fan engagement. – When it comes to the fans, the more precise data you have about them, the easier it is to create a connection with new sponsors. 

The challenge nowadays is not only to gather the data but also to transform it into knowledge. Sometimes, it might seem to be extremely difficult. However, it’s always worth paying attention to!

If you gather all the data about your club in one place, that will be a breakthrough. – said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, president at Univision. – That means finding the way to receive information about the Match Day, footballers, fans, gambling, viewership and digital activity. All in one place!

WFS Live Summary – Business Insights From the Football Industry

Such an approach may lead to a revolution in many clubs. The need for serious investments in stadiums, training centres, websites and mobile applications may appear. Otherwise, the possibility to acquire data will be limited. 

Soon thanks to 5G possibilities – which we mentioned as a one of trending technologies – the consumers’ expectations will evolve quickly. The communication must become direct, personalised, appealing and engaging to create any effect on your community. Without data, you have no chance to achieve it. 

SPONSORSHIPS WILL BE BASED ON MEASURABLE DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT

Ninety-nine percent of the fans are outside of the stadium. Now, because of the pandemic, in some places, it might be even one hundred percent. So you need to find a way to engage them outside of the stadium. – Have you already heard these words before WFS Live summit? 

No surprise here, as the author of them, is Socios.com founder, Alexandre Dreyfus, who recently shared with us his thoughts on the fan engagement in the KNOW THE SCORE interview.

WFS Live Summary – Business Insights From the Football Industry

The need for the change in operations caused by the pandemic made many of the sports clubs look for the new ways of partnership. We see the austerity, people tend to spend less money. Now, it’s time to understand the process of fan engagement rather than just use the phrase. Try being creative to what you see and respond to it.

Simon Chadwick, Director of Eurasian Sport and professor at EMLyon Business School, emphasised the importance of data in creating community. – I see fan engagement as a combination of motives, attitudes and behaviours. Understanding people’s motives at this time is fundamental. Data helps us to make it efficiently.

ASIAN FANS – A NEW DIMENSION OF ENGAGEMENT

We all know the potential that lies in India and China when it comes to business development. According to the recent data, India’s population is 1.353 billion people, while China’s population accounts for 1.393 billion human beings. When we add these numbers, it gives us more than 2.7 billion individuals. 

However, just a few of us may be aware that according to the Nielsen Sports report from 2019, the level of interest in football in these countries is estimated to be at 30%. That’s a higher level of fan participation than in nations such as Germany, Spain or the Netherlands, which we associate with being “football freaks”!

WFS Live Summary – Business Insights From the Football Industry

That’s why many entrepreneurs in the football industry are looking for new methods to engage Asian fans. – The top commodity is the fans’ attention. We have to have a strategy to make sure the content we create is worth their engagement. Content should focus on the fans’ attention, not on your club or federation. Now, it usually works the other way around. Clubs are attractive for fans but don’t do much to attract them in other ways than playing football and winning.– told us Winnie Chan, Chief Commercial Officer at Malaysian Football League.

Winnie also pointed to some specific characteristics of the Malaysian fans. – The fans in our league are shy and don’t get involved in challenges in which they need to show too much of her personality or skills. That’s why we don’t force involvement, we let it grow organically. 

Such an approach corresponded well to what Simon Li, Commercial Director at La Liga, found out about this market. – Asian fans are more used to having virtual communication than people in Europe. Modern technology gives a great chance to make Asian fans closer to the teams they support by offering them unique content. 

THE GOLDEN AGE OF SPORTS CONTENT

In the times of lockdown and social distancing, there appeared an acceleration of a trend that we could already observe earlier – digital content consumption. Eventually, it made us see the market being saturated with thousands of videos prepared specifically for mobile users.

The combination of videos, podcasts and influencers seems to have given the best results to the sports brands in 2020. The fast-paced lifestyle of the virtual world is inevitably becoming more real. Clubs and federations have no other option but to tap into this massive market.

Fans are hungry for big names of individuals. Very often, individual athletes are more important in terms of engaging fans than the sports brands themselves. – highlights James Dobbs, Managing Director at SNTV. – Winning competitions also helps a lot when it comes to getting the reach. But your aim as a sports club is to be able to tell an engaging story to the people so that even if you don’t win anything for the next ten years, they’ll stay with your brand forever!

WFS Live Summary – Business Insights From the Football Industry

You have to be true. Authenticity, real emotions, story based on facts and people, we all want to see that – added Anouk Mertens representing Neo Studios. 

Nora Henriksson from Media Monks referred to the youth – Gen Y&Z is used to digital solutions. They know what Esports is all about, they understand the way social media works. Those who manage the sports clubs content strategy are usually people born in the 1970s or 80s. They should be able to go beyond their perspective.

Esports was one of the topics that was raised repeatedly during this discussion and throughout the whole WFS Live conference. It proved to be a decent substitution for real sports during the lockdown, especially when we look at the young. Those who already had the infrastructure prepared for online competition could use it to engage fans in this way. 

“DIGITAL INNOVATION HAS A REAL IMPACT ON SPORTS CLUBS’ EVERYDAY OPERATIONS”

Are you still wondering whether to invest in digital innovations?

5G is going to bring up an entirely new world of communication – emphasises Micheal Sutherland, Chief Transformation Officer at Real Madrid. – It means a chance of providing richer content and gathering more precise information. As a consequence, consumer expectations are going to evolve. In the long term, 5G will completely change the fans expectations when it comes to the sports brands interactions with them.

Sports seems to be one of a few businesses that haven’t been disrupted by the technological evolution in the last twenty years. However, there’s no other way – it must change sooner or later. At the WFS Live summit, it was repeated many times. 

Monetisation, sponsorships, partnerships… In the last year, we saw a completely new way of thinking about them because of the pandemic. Creative solutions are needed, and technology embraces it. – said Pedro Mestriner, CEO at Horizm. – Digital innovation has a real impact on sports clubs’ everyday operations.

WFS LIVE SUMMARY

WFS Live seems to be one of the best places to understand the global perspective and see the bigger picture of the football industry. This time, in November 2020, there were 150 speakers and 2134 attendees representing various clubs, leagues, federations and companies. 

Get an advantage over others by acquiring insights from the global experts in the industry. See how much emphasis they put on fan engagement, digital innovations and precise data. Make sure you have the best products on the market to be ahead of your competition!

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