Our very own Sophie Barker-Davies and Finn Walsh attended this year’s SportsPro Fan Conference 2019. The event was hosted at a venue we know very well, the world’s most technologically advanced venue, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
As well as a chance to learn, engage and join in with discussions from industry experts the event provided a perfect opportunity to showcase the Spurs app, powered by Realife Tech.
The 2019 SportsPro Fan Conference bought a number of expert speakers together from the world’s biggest, brands, sports teams and associations. Including Everton FC, FIFA, NFL, Budweiser and Lucozade.
Here’s the Top 5 Key Insights Sophie and Finn took from the day:
Women’s sport is growing to be increasingly important and is becoming an integral part of any major club’s strategy for fan engagement. Over the past year, there has been a dramatic surge in interest in women’s sport. It is obvious that the women’s World Cup has been the most important event of the year and has single-handedly boosted appeal massively. The tournament gripped a total attendance of over one million whilst TV viewers peaked at roughly 20 million. Women’s football is going from strength-to-strength but clubs must do all they can to continue this added growth, by retaining current fans and engaging new ones. When it comes to the engagement for women’s football, the key is to make the digital fan experience a united one focussed around the club as a whole, rather than setting the women’s team up as secondary to the men’s.
One key insight that Sophie Barker-Davies found particularly interesting is how rapidly football (soccer) is growing in the USA and how the NFL and MLB are becoming increasingly popular in Europe. Over the past ten years, the total attendance for the MLS has grown from 2.9 million to 7.3 million, an astounding figure that can only suggest soccer is exploding in the USA. The increased number of teams, improved TV coverage and players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Thierry Henry moving to Major League Soccer are all contributing to the growth of the sport. While Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the United Kingdom, the growth in popularity of the NFL, MLB and NBA cannot be ignored. With all three major franchises showcasing games in the UK with the highlight being four NFL games attracting sell-out crowds across October and November.
Governing bodies such as FIFA, The FA, and RFU have masses of data but struggle to gather the right content to target their audience effectively. These associations need to be converting this data on their customers into effective, personalised and targeted content. The more personalised the content, the further engaged the fans will be. Digital technology is always changing so these established governing bodies need to keep pace with their fans constantly shifting expectations.
Finn and Sophie both noted that they were surprised to hear that major clubs do not always have an abundance of future commercial partnership options. The process of lining up effective partners, negotiating terms and agreeing on these can be long and strenuous. They also learnt the importance of saying no to potential partnerships where the vision or mission do not align, even if the commercial value is there.
Micro-influencers are normally seen to have 1,000 to 1,000,000 audience members/followers and are experts in their respective markets or subjects. The reason these micro-influencers work so well is that the audience size allows them to be more “hands-on”. They are also trusted by their fans, an influencer at a celebrity level may be seen as less knowledgeable and only “influencing” for commercial reasons. Micro-influencers are asserting their importance on the Sports and Sports Media industry. Huge brands, associations and governing bodies are employing micro-Influencers to engage with their fan base and potential new fans. As an example, FIFA has set up a recruitment programme, targeting football coaches and university students studying relevant degrees to be their micro-influencers.
If you didn’t get the chance to speak to us at the SportsPro Fan Conference 2019 simply get in touch using our Request A Demo form below and we’ll be happy to talk.