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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.

Horizm report highlights hugely untapped digital potential for European clubs

EPL

Digital assets platform Horizm has outlined in a new report the ‘huge untapped potential’ for digital partnerships across the European football market.

According to the report, brands activated less than five per cent of digital inventory available across Europe’s six elite soccer leagues in the 2021/22 campaign.

The ‘Brands in Football – The Digital Game’ study showed that 682 brands chose to digitally activate partnerships with teams across the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Portugal’s Primeira Liga this season. However, brands only benefitted from a fraction of the inventory available.

Horizm found that clubs in the six leagues across England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Portugal delivered a combined total of €75.6 million ($114.2 million AUD) in activated value for their different partners through content shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Yet, that fell well short of the total digital inventory available – which the report puts at more than €1.5 billion ($2.3 billion AUD).

Video game developer EA Sports received the most activated value in total through 22 different properties, putting it ahead of Emirates Airlines and Adidas.

Sportswear giant Adidas was the most active brand by number of posts. Sports drink brand Gatorade was deemed the most efficient in terms of activated value per post.

At a league level, LaLiga clubs collectively had the highest amount of activated value with €26 million ($39.2 million AUD). The Premier League was second with €24.7 million ($37.3 million AUD) and Serie A was third with €15.4 million ($23.2 million AUD).

The Primeira Liga activated the greatest number of posts with over 14,000. Serie A activated the highest percentage of its available inventory with 12.2 per cent.

Horizm concluded that there is a huge opportunity for brands in soccer, especially when targeting content outside of match days which, although consistent and high performing, is also limited in terms of its availability.

The report added that brands can seize the opportunity to leverage the emotional connection fans have with teams through creative activation of behind the scenes content – a format Horizm notes is increasingly used for engaging younger customers.

Los Angeles FC teams up with Foundation Fighting Blindness to host vision impaired fans

Major League Soccer club Los Angeles FC is teaming up with the Foundation Fighting Blindness to host blind and low vision fans at LAFC matches at Banc of California Stadium this season.

Leveraging the team’s partnership with audio technology Mixhalo, fans will have access to crystal-clear, real-time play-by-play in English, featuring the call of ESPN LA’s Dave Denholm and the Spanish audio featuring Armando Aguayo on 980 AM La Mera Mera.

All fans at Banc of California can now use their phone, headphones and the free mobile Mixhalo app to listen to Mixhalo’s high-quality live audio for an immersive experience while watching at the stadium.

As the first-ever MLS team to adopt the technology, LAFC announced its collaboration with Mixhalo in December 2020. With fans now returning to Banc of California Stadium at full capacity, Mixhalo audio will be available to all fans at every LAFC home game throughout the remainder of the 2022 season.

“LAFC matches are for everyone,” LAFC Co-President and CBO Larry Freedman told lafc.com.

“We are constantly focusing on improving our fan experience and making our games more accessible to all. We are proud to welcome fans from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community this season to experience LAFC matches in person through Mixhalo’s incredible technology.”

Guests from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community will attend select LAFC home games and have the opportunity to meet with Denholm and Aguayo before the game.

“We are honoured to be partnering with LAFC in making the games more accessible for our blind and low vision community,” Jason Menzo said to lafc.com, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

“We look forward to the technology rolling out into other stadiums, not only in the United States, but globally.

Mixhalo Head of Sports Doug Holtzman added:

“Mixhalo elevates the live sports experience for everyone, and we’re thrilled that vision impaired LAFC fans can enjoy a better experience at matches this season.”

“With live calls from Dave Denholm directly in your ear – it really doesn’t get much better than that.”

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