La Liga outfit Real Betis targets Asia for international growth

Football clubs around the world continue to place an importance on their image in the ever-growing Asian market.

La Liga club Real Betis has substantially grown their appeal and international fanbase in recent times, with plans to continue pursuing commercial opportunities outside of Spain.

Asia is integral to these plans, with Betis beginning to take advantage of their participation in one of the world’s most watched and well-supported leagues.

Before the start of last season the club signed a partnership agreement with RB88, a leading online betting company in the region, for the next three seasons.

The Seville based club does have a significant, well established international department and continues to reach new audiences in football-mad Asia.

One of their latest moves, just months ago, was to expand their digital offering in China by opening a new profile on the Weibo social network.

It is a play to expand the club’s fanbase in China, curating content that is suitable and engaging to Chinese football fans.

“From Real Betis we always work to tailor our entry strategies for each country according to the interests of local people,” Ramón Alarcón, general business director of the club, told the La Liga website.

The club has a key focus on China, considering the development and extensive work they have already conducted in the country.

“In China we have focused on cooperating in local education and progress of football players,” Alarcón noted. “We have held talks on our methodology and made agreements that are very beneficial for both parties.”

These agreements include partnering with La Liga and the Chinese Football Association (CFA) on various occasions over the past few years.

Last year, the club opened a new training school in the Chinese province of Zheijang as a part of the ‘EscuelaBetis’ programme which aims to educate through football as well as expanding the Betis brand.

Commenting at the time of the announcement of the project, Toni Ortega, director of the club’s international development, told the La Liga website: “The EscuelaBetis programme will bring together all the sports projects of the club under a single brand that transmits our values.

“We are always looking to create education, training and development of young players around the world and we hope that this brand will allow us to export the work done at home to all parts of the world.

“We have been working for more than a year to identify the best opportunities in China. Within this project, we saw a need to run both boy’s and girl’s training as one of the keys to growth.”

China, however, is not the only country in Asia that Betis has pinpointed for future growth opportunities.

In Japan, Real Betis joined La Liga’s #TodayWePlay initiative last season, which brings Japanese fans closer to the club through engaging online education classes.

Created in collaboration with the Cervantes Institute in Tokyo, different topics are discussed and presented by Betis to Japanese audiences, including the club’s history, organisation, fanbase and ties to Japan.

Other clubs such as RCD Mallorca, SD Eibar, Deprtivo Alaves, Villarreal CF, Elche CF, SD Huesca, Cádiz CF and Real Zaragoza are involved in the program.

The club’s seminar was presented by Alarcón last month, also detailing information on Spanish culture, architecture and gastronomy from cities represented in the La Liga competition.

Alongside this, late last year the club initiated a Behind the Scenes trip, through the EscuelaBetis program, for a group of Japanese students.

The students stayed in Seville for a week, visiting the club’s facilities in the process and learning about how the club’s institutions are run, the working methodology and also gaining insight from world class professionals about their varying experiences.

Betis sees the potential there and is making a conscious effort to understand the local Japanese platforms and audiences.

The club has an official profile on Twitter in Japanese which currently has just over 8,000 followers, a number which will certainly grow in the years to come.

In regards to our local teams, what can A-League clubs do to better build their brand in Asia? Get in touch with us via email or our social channels.

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.

DAZN removes paywall on women’s football including the Champions League to encourage growth

British sports streaming service DAZN revealed its decision to cancel the subscription fee for women’s football content throughout the remaining 2023-24 season in the UK, in order to help promote the women’s game.

Its New Deal for Women’s Football campaign has been introduced to help boost investment and make the women’s game financially sustainable.

The New Deal campaign is calling for clubs, sponsors, media and broadcasters and rights holders to get involved and come together to build a major global commercial sport.

The original strategy that was outlined in the agreement was that in the initial two years of the broadcast deal (21/22 & 22/23 seasons), where all 61 matches were available for free viewing.

Then in the 2023/24 season it moved to a subscription-based model, locking out fans from being able to view the games live on DAZN or its YouTube channel for free.

This announcement affects all Women’s Champions League matches, as well as the Women’s leagues in Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and Saudi Arabia, which will now be accessible without cost.

This means the remaining 29 Champions League matches, 48 Liga F matches, 48 in Frauen Bundesliga, 15 Saudi Women’s league and 50 in the Italian Serie A Femminile will be broadcast for free in the UK.

DAZN released a statement last Thursday that mentioned the reason why the streaming company decided to make the games free.

“This will drive audience growth and provide a new global home for women’s football, offering greater access to games, content and the international women’s football community,” confirming that the decision is part of its new campaign to “ensure a commercially robust future for women’s football.”

DAZN’s co-CEO of women’s sport, Hannah Brown explained what this move means for the future of the sport.

“The women’s game has significant commercial potential,” she said in a statement.

“Without it [the New Deal campaign] a golden opportunity to accelerate growth is lost.”

The numbers released by DAZN since the start of their partnership agreement with the Women’s CL also suggest that there is a magnification on women’s football.

In the competition’s inaugural broadcast year for the 2021/22 final they got 3.6 million in global viewership and a cumulative viewership of 64 million. This went up to 5.1 million for the 22/23 final and an 87 million cumulative global viewership total.

The decision to make women’s football accessible is the right one at the expense of money earned through subscriptions. The best way to grow the sport is to maintain a healthy audience and to not restrict women’s football from the masses in its time of extreme growth.

StairMedia: Illuminating stadiums and driving commercial growth in football

It’s likely that football’s TV audiences never actively notice the stairwells of a stadium whilst watching a match. Yet, one company is working to change this by providing football organisations with the opportunity to illuminate its stairwells whilst stimulating economic growth.

StairMedia is a company originating from Spain that installs LED technology for stadium stairwells. Each step is installed with horizontal hardware that, once connected together, delivers an unmissable vertical display.

We currently see leagues and clubs offer televisual space for its sponsors via advertising hoardings, playing shirts and pitch markings. However, StairMedia offers sporting organisations the opportunity to increase its commercial income by maximising the space occupied by banal stadium stairwells.

It is the latest collaboration between technology, marketing and sport sectors, further illustrating the desire of sports organisations to unlock its marketing potential. It also helps to deliver a greater experience for sponsors, who reap the benefits of a highly engaging advertisement that captivates TV audiences.

The company began its sporting journey in basketball, permanently installing its product in the home arena of Spanish basketball club, Saski Baskonia. Since then, it has established high-profile partnerships with some of football’s most recognisable stadiums and organisations.

Most recognisable is Wembley Stadium, where its TV facing stairwells display the logo of the England football team’s official mobile network partner, EE, during their games. The English FA has also utilised StairMedia for its FA Cup semi-finals and finals, helping the competition’s sponsors capture the attention of viewers nationally and internationally.

Later, English powerhouse Manchester City capitalised on StairMedia’s prominence by permanently installing its technology on the stairwells of the Etihad Stadium. This deal has been replicated by Liga MX clubs Chivas de Guadalajara and Santos Laguna.

At the centre of StairMedia’s product is the use of LED technology to illuminate each step on a stadium stairwell. The use of LED in football is not new, with elite stadiums and local grounds turning towards the option for powering floodlights, scoreboards, big screens and advertising hoardings. Therefore, using the technology delivered by StairMedia ticks an important environmental sustainability box for football organisations.

Another plus is the high levels of energy efficiency and durability that comes with LED products, making them a more financially viable option. This ultimately contributes to the return on investment football organisations hope to achieve when installing StairMedia technology.

Behind this is a software system that seamlessly integrates with existing stadium technology, making installation easy for stadium staff and contributes to a highly engaging image for television audiences.

The NRL pioneered StairMedia’s innovative product for its finals series, evidencing its potential in the Australian sports stadia market. This represents a massive opportunity for Football Australia, and the Australian Professional Leagues (APL), to entice current and future sponsors through StairMedia’s game-changing product.

At a time where Australian football is coordinating a major expansion effort, engaging with innovative companies like StairMedia would help unlock new marketing potential. This would play a major role in helping the aforementioned organisations reach its key targets and achieve greater financial stability.

Depending on the timeframe and costing structure, Football Australia or the APL could seek to implement the technology incrementally – as done in the United Kingdom – showcasing it at major events such as the A Leagues Grand Finals, Australia Cup Finals, and World Cup qualifying matches.

Capturing every inch of televisual space for sponsorship and marketing is not an easy task, but through technology companies like StairMedia, football organisations can improve their commercial standing in an environmentally sustainable manner.

We expect to see the stairwells of football stadiums continue to come to life, as StairMedia expands its operation across the globe.

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