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How digital storytelling and gaming can lift the profile of a football competition

Spain’s La Liga competition have realised the power of digital storytelling and gaming, implementing strategies successfully to engage fans across the world.

Alfredo Bermejo, the director of digital strategy at La Liga, recently stated that building a connection with supporters is a priority, through the use of a variety of social media channels: “We need to know what the fans like, which platforms they engage with and what kind of content they like.

“Social media provides the possibility to go global and to have a scaled approach to the fans,” he said at the Social Football Summit conference.

Social media engagement data provides evidence that relevant stories of an international player at a modest club in the league, will have a bigger impact than posts about a superstar at Real Madrid or Barcelona.

“I think a common goal for all of us is to go beyond the big names and the big clubs and to try to tell stories and make other clubs and players become known by the audience,” Bermejo explained.

“We try to identify which stories are relevant within markets. Sometimes players from smaller teams have a bigger reach than the big stars because they belong to a certain territory where they are number one.”

As an example, Chinese international Wu Lei signed for Espanyol in January of 2019 with the club becoming the most-watched team on Chinese TV.  La Liga’s follower count on social media network Weibo also soared by 82% in the second half of the 2018/19 season, due to Lei’s arrival.

Similarly, in the Japanese market, Eibar have utilised the signing of Takashi Inui in 2015 to tell appropriate stories about the player and continue to build the club’s profile in the country.

The competition’s social media metrics reach their highest during the matches of each round, therefore, the use of gaming to keep fans entertained for the whole week is vitally important.

Bermejo explained: “It’s an area where data gives us an advantage. With the traffic to our official website, we have big spikes during the weekend and then, during the week, we have lower valleys. What we try to do is to generate content abroad that helps us to minimise that.”

The league’s fantasy football gaming service, La Liga Fantasy Marca, has been a huge success.

“One of our biggest investments has been in our fantasy football game,” Bermejo stated. “When we created it, we had a belief that it would help boost consumption of more matches than just the traditional Real Madrid or FC Barcelona matches.”

“When you create a team, you have to select players from different teams so the biggest match for you during a weekend may not be one involving the biggest teams,” he continued. “It may be the match where you have the most players from your fantasy line-up.”

Fans can choose which team is their favourite before selecting a squad in the fantasy game, with the data portraying a broad spread of interest and engagement with different clubs in the league.

This is significant for La Liga and for its broadcasters, as information like this is shared between both parties in the best interests of strengthening their relationship.

“In the past, leagues used to sell the rights to broadcasters and then do nothing more,” he concluded. “Now, the model has completely changed. We’re moving from B2B to B2C business, where the relationship with the client and with the fans is getting more and more important.”

Other recent examples of La Liga connecting with the gaming world include Sevilla’s commercial agreement with Fortnite, where their kit will feature in the game along with more than 20 other football teams across the world.

As of May 2020, Fortnite has amassed over 350 million players globally, with Sevilla and La Liga tapping into the potential of the gaming giant through this beneficial partnership.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Deltatre: The all-rounder for leading innovations

Boasting a wide range of technologies, Deltatre has proven itself to be a reliable technology provider to football federations, leagues and clubs around the world.

Boasting a wide range of technologies, Deltatre has proven itself to be a reliable technology provider to football federations, leagues and clubs around the world.

Deltatre is changing the way fans consume and engage with their favourite sports, with specialist innovations ranging across over-the-top (OTT) streaming, websites and apps, graphics, data, officiating systems, user experience, and product design.

Speaking to Soccerscene, Craig Harvey, Deltatre’s Vice President of Asia-Pacific explains: “We guide sports organisations through change. Using data and insights, combined with over 30 years of experience in sport, we analyse, design and deliver the next level of growth through technology and services.”

With an extensive client list in football – featuring FIFA, AFC, J League and all MLS clubs, to name a few – Deltatre brings an unrivalled experience to any football organisation that is seeking to build its brand by engaging, understanding, growing and monetising its fans.

Deltatre growth in Asia-Pacific

Deltatre has experienced significant growth in recent years, and has expanded its presence around the world, with over 1000 staff across 11 countries. In 2015, Deltatre made a strategic decision to build a presence in Asia-Pacific and localise its service to adapt to the needs of the clients in the region.

Now with nearly 100 staff distributed across Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and India, Deltatre is better placed than ever to deliver; and clients such as Asian Football Confederation (AFC), J League and India Super League (ISL) are already benefitting from this strategic initiative.

Indeed, the ISL appointment of Deltatre reflected the mission to redevelop its on-screen storytelling of the fastest growing sports property in India. Deltatre developed, designed, and deployed a best-in-class graphics solution for the full season, and implemented sophisticated remote production that ensured adaptability. Such implementation came to the fore this year, considering the significant restrictions imposed by COVID-19 in India, with operations limited to strict bio-secure bubbles in Goa and Mumbai, as outlined in this case study.

Harvey touches on the success on this project: “Delivering live sport can be challenging at the best of times. In today’s world, it takes a new level of commitment, adaptability and innovation to ensure a safe and successful delivery. Delivering this seasons ISL was arguably one of our hardest deliveries, ever, but the toughest times often lead to our greatest moments.”

Leading Innovation

Beyond the world of broadcast, Deltatre is renowned for its work across data, owned & operated digital platforms and OTT streaming services; be it collecting the official data for the Bundesliga, or powering MLSSoccer.com and NFL Game Pass, as a few examples from a distinguished list of projects around the world. In addition, Deltatre provides the technology backbone to managing competitions and events for several organisations, streamlining both internal and external processes and tasks.

Harvey adds, “At our core, we are a team of technology experts with a passion to bring sport to life. Over the past 30 years we have built and refined our products and services to connect the media value chain to maximise performance and operational effectiveness for all stakeholders.”

An area where Deltatre has seen great traction in the past few years is the centralisation of digital platforms for leagues to better support the future of their clubs and members. The multi-tenant approach – using FORGE Multiply – brings unity to every member, large or small, and offers an ecosystem designed to support them engage, understand and connect with their community and fans, and ultimately grow their sport.

“A powerful example of work is highlighted in our recent announcement on becoming the web technology partner for Major League Soccer (MLS), supporting the league and its clubs transform the fan experience.” Harvey said.

Beyond Football

Deltatre’s capabilities and experience extend far beyond football, and sport. In 2018, Deltatre acquired Massive Interactive – which was founded in Australia in 1996 and now uses its office in Redfern as its Australian HQ – bolstering Deltatre’s OTT capabilities with products capable of delivering entertainment platforms for media organisations around the world.

Harvey added: “We predicted that media organisations would consolidate OTT viewing experiences across sport and entertainment, and so the acquisition of Massive Interactive has uniquely positioned Deltatre as leaders in both live and VOD content management, paired with world-class products that deliver engaging experiences at scale.”

Soccerscene takes a closer look at the variety of products and services Deltatre brings to market – all of which could well be applicable to organisations throughout Australia that are looking to augment their capabilities.

DIVA – Bring fans closer to the action.

An advanced OTT player, DIVA offers fans more than simply watching the game. If you’re watching from home, you want to experience every moment in fine detail. You get all the data you could ever want, with the ability to view from multiple angles – available on mobile, web, and Android TV.

AXIS – Drive user engagement.

User experience (UX) is at the heart of AXIS, giving editorial teams the chance to tailor their content to suit each sports fan. AXIS uses an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface that can control all aspects of an organisation’s OTT service to deliver increased engagement, such as design, navigation, promotions, page layout, and content.

Mtribes – Give your users a more personalized experience.

This software as a service (SaaS) platform has been created for real-time insights on user experience. To be successful in digital, data is the key indicator. To understand users, there needs to be the right tools in place to see how the audience is interacting with a service. Mtribes plugs into an existing sports technology stack to be assessed by operators. With the power of data, they can make changes to a service’s features, design, and content depending on a user’s behaviour traits.

FORGE – Engage your fans through storytelling.

A sports-oriented audience is hungry for content and wants that content all in one place. FORGE is the world’s first sport-focused publishing platform that meets the needs of all audiences on a global scale. It offers flexibility for sports operators to tell their unforgettable stories through this modern-day solution. FORGE has been built from the ground up to create a content platform that’s simple to use and lets editorial teams produce content as they like. It also lets teams get a better idea on how much time they engage with their fans and to decide on the appropriate channels.

To see all that Deltatre has to offer, you can find it here.

Dig Inclusion makes digital access available for everyone 

For stadiums around the world, infrastructure has been created to cater for people with disabilities, however access to club websites and apps cannot be overlooked. 

In the past, stadiums had been designed so people with disability can still access the venues. As we know with COVID outbreaks, attention has now shifted towards how we get these people into the grounds by using apps and in particular to scan a QR code for contact tracing. 

As we have seen in 2021, the QR system has become a mandatory tool, while at the same time we have seen the need to go with virtual tickets, rather than the printed out copies we had always been accustomed to. 

For clubs and stadiums, they want to ensure that fan experience is at the optimal level, so that means they have to assess the accessibility for disabled people and ways for them to have entry to venues without an enormous amount of hassle. 

This is where Dig Inclusion can help. They are a digital accessibility service who ensures that football club websites and apps are equally available for everyone. 

For clubs, they should be asking themselves whether disabled fans have the same opportunity to buy tickets online as everybody else, while the other consideration should be if news feeds, match statistics, websites and apps are as user friendly as they need to be. 

For digital accessibility, Dig Inclusion takes into account people who are colour blind, dyslexic or have cognitive impairments (including people living with dementia). Through a club’s website or app design process – from the use of font, to language, to colour contrast – are all highly important so nobody feels overwhelmed when accessing a club’s resource. 

For example, if a disabled fan wants to buy some club merchandise, then they will have the same opportunity to browse and make that purchase just like any other person would, with tailored options available to assist anyone who needs it. 

When teams partner with Dig Inclusion, they are there for every step of the way, from accessible testing, research and strategy, to accessible development and content creation, and finally a check on websites, mobile apps, PDF documents and ebooks among some of the benefits. 

All of Dig Inclusion’s services are designed to help clubs keep pace in a rapidly changing digital age: 

Accessible design review: To highlight visual aspects of a design that need to be checked for accessibility, such as colour contrast and positioning. This looks at common accessibility pitfalls and turns this into what would be the ultimate experience for all customers. 

Accessibility help desk: Advice and support from someone who understands the company and what they do, offering fast response times and specialist knowledge for any stucks in the digital accessibility process. 

Mobile accessibility: Helping to get the most out of tablet and smartphone users, with those devices more often used than desktop or laptop. This is very important for disabled or elderly fans who would like to use mobile technology. 

Web accessibility: Advising organisations about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in an easy-to-understand manner, as design agencies and web developers may find it difficult to grasp or keep pace with updates as they become available. 

Disabled user testing: It’s not only digital content meeting accessibility guidelines that is important, but also making sure that the experience of a disabled person using a product is a good one. 

PDF accessibility: Accessibility guidelines are not just designed for webpages, but anything that a customer downloads is also included. Dig Inclusion can produce PDF documents that go alongside WCAG with equal access as a typical website. 

Video accessibility: When businesses make advertising material, they can be supported with transcripts, captions, subtitles, or audio descriptions that they probably would have not used before on their own. 

Ebook accessibility: Tablets have been a valuable way for people to virtually read books and other publications. An accessible ebook gives all readers instant access to fit their needs, regardless of print disability. 

Dig Inclusion provides ways for clubs to navigate the challenges associated with building an app or website for equal opportunities. To learn more on Dig Inclusion, you can find it here. 

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