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LiveScore continues to grow its global reach through partnership with La Liga

New technological innovations continue to be an important factor in how football fans consume the world game across broadcast and digital media.

This growing trend was part of the motivation behind La Liga and LiveScore signing a three-year global sponsorship deal at the beginning of the 2019 season.

While the coronavirus pandemic has caused a disruption to both organisations’ core business offerings, the partnership has continued to develop ways to engage fans and enhance their experiences.

LiveScore services over 56 million active monthly users in over 200 countries through their app and website.

The organisation wanted to work with the high-profile Spanish competition to continue to accelerate its growth and global reach.

“La Liga undoubtedly has a reputation as one of the best football leagues in the world”, Will Thomas, Head of Sponsorship at LiveScore Group, told the La Liga Newsletter.

“We want to align ourselves with leading sports institutions that share similar ambitions to us, centred around growing fanbases, speed, reliability and digital innovation. We found La Liga reflected many of these qualities.”

La Liga provides LiveScore with multiple digital assets, as well as increasing the visibility of the brand with pitch-side advertising boards, fourth official boards and social media posts.

In saying this, however, the partnership centrally revolves around LiveScore’s sponsorship of La Liga Replay360° technology.

Every time Replay360° is used in a broadcasted match, which is on average six times per game, LiveScore is showcased as the presenting partner responsible for the technological innovation.

Edited clips are also shown on La Liga and LiveScore’s social media channels, with Replay360° generating over 35 million video views and five million positive engagements for LiveScore last season.

“Early indications through our research suggest that we are beginning to get some cut-through in terms of sponsorship awareness in many of our focus markets, amongst both La Liga fans and LiveScore users”, Thomas added.

“Millions of fans watch La Liga matches and follow their social channels, where we regularly appear, so the rights have been a solid base for us to work from.”

The technology is still considered to be a relatively new innovation and one that fans continually appreciate.

“It appears as if the fans love seeing goals from this unique perspective, as engagement sentiment has been very positive,” Thomas said.

“LiveScore is in the business of providing goal updates and scores to football fans, so building on this association is both obvious and important to us.”

The arrival of the global pandemic did force some adjustments, with both parties having to think on their feet when it came to their previously arranged agreement.

“We want to enhance the LiveScore user experience through our sponsorship assets, providing better content and more unique fan experiences and rewards,” Thomas explained.

“Clearly, the pandemic has made this more difficult as it has been impossible since March to utilise things like match tickets, hospitality and ‘behind the scenes’ access. So, we have really focused on what we call ‘the controllables’ and that is broadcast and digital.”

To succeed in this space, LiveScore worked with La Liga to produce video content that was unique to the situation.

“We have collaborated with several past and present La Liga players such as Steve McManaman, Patrick Kluivert, Marc Bartra, Ivan Rakitić, Saúl Ñíguez and Samuel Chukwueze, as well as LaLiga President Javier Tebas, which is enabling us to provide regular engaging content that fans are already enjoying,” Thomas stated.

With around 25% of LiveScore users following La Liga passionately, there was keen interest in this content amongst its own userbase and also from those who follow the La Liga’s digital channels. The first ‘LiveScore Challenge’ films featuring players, as well as accompanying interviews, are already available on both organisation’s social channels with approximately 25 individual videos to be released by the end of the 2020/21 season.

As La Liga continues to enhance its own OTT streaming service, the Spanish competition is in a position to share new findings with partners such as LiveScore who are looking to develop similar offerings.

LiveScore launched a free-to-air live streaming service in June of this year.

“We’ve been delighted with the response at this early stage,” Thomas revealed.

“LiveScore app users in the UK, Ireland and Nigeria are now able to access live matches from some of the top football competitions around the world and over 70% of app users in each of those markets have watched a match so far. Furthermore, 25% of those viewers have gone on to watch more than 10 live matches – a sign that our users are enjoying the action we’re providing.”

Both companies will continue to try to stay ahead of the technological curve, with the data they have gathered through a wide userbase, vital to detect new trends.

“The provision of insight is something we work closely with rightsholders on to shine a light on the popularity of specific competitions around the globe and how LiveScore streaming its content can influence this in a positive way,” Thomas said.

For example, LiveScore can provide La Liga information on the level of interest in certain fixtures and teams in certain markets, with the ability to compare those figures to other leading leagues and clubs across the world.

“From a research and development sponsorship perspective, we are continually sharing key findings with each other on the successes and challenges of the partnership,” Thomas noted.

“From a broader business perspective, outside of the confines of the sponsorship, we are a digital global content business that is accessible to sports fans all over the world and we are always open to providing advice and support to our trusted partners.”

“We are still in the infancy of our partnership, but I am sure future innovations will come as we continue to work together,” he concluded.

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.

Digging Deeper: Inside Melbourne Victory’s StatsBomb partnership

Melbourne Victory dropped a bomb on the A-League competition when it announced its new partnership with StatsBomb,

Melbourne Victory dropped a bomb on the A-Leagues when it announced its new partnership with StatsBomb – a name that will be unfamiliar to most Australian football fans.

However, whilst the name might be new, the pursuit is not.

As the role of data analytics continues to rise in football, many clubs and organisations are still coming to grips with how to best process and present that data and how to use it to make tangible differences on gameday.

In StatsBomb, Melbourne Victory will certainly hope they have gained an advantage on the competition.

StatsBomb firmly believes it is up for the challenge – and why wouldn’t they?

Already trusted by the likes of Liverpool FC – a club now renowned for its use of data and analytics in improving on-field performance – StatsBomb is enjoying an increasingly growing reputation within the game.

Also counting AS Roma and the Belgian Football Association amongst their clients, StatsBomb international marketing coordinator Nick Dorrington sees an exciting opportunity for the company to enter a new market in Australia with Victory.

“We have customers in over 25 countries around the world but are still expanding our reach in terms of geography and language. It is exciting to get a foothold in a new territory, particularly in a region like Australasia and Asia where we see good opportunities for growth,” Dorrington told Soccerscene.

“As an organisation, Melbourne Victory are determined to turn things around after finishing bottom of the league last season. They are keen to implement change and want to integrate data into all of their processes.

“They are looking for an objective way to track and measure things like performance and style of play, but they also see an opportunity to leverage the additional detail of StatsBomb data to gain an edge on other teams in player recruitment.

“StatsBomb data includes significant additional contextual information that allows for more effective analysis and scouting. Things like goalkeeper and defender positioning on shots, the height of the ball at the moment at which a shot is taken, pressure data at a team and player level and other variables like pass footedness, pass height and various others.

“That allows teams to get a much clearer idea of player behaviour in certain situations. For instance, if you were scouting an upcoming opponent you could look at what kind of passes their central defenders make when put under pressure and find a way of leveraging that information to your advantage.

“The integration of data will be a long-term process for Melbourne Victory, but one that the club should hopefully begin to see the fruit of relatively soon.”

StatsBomb’s emergence in this market come from rather humble beginnings.

CEO Ted Knutson started the business as a blog about football analytics, before being hired to work within football himself.

Once he returned to the open market, he built a team that delivered consultancy services for clubs, where he discovered a constant issue with the limitations of the available event data from football games.

Whilst the use and analysis of data is nothing new in football, Dorrington explained the StatsBomb model differentiated itself because of its proprietary data set, which provides greater context for the numbers and more actionable insights.

“One of the things that our founders consistently came across when they were using the data of other providers was that it lacked important contextual information that experienced football people were easily able to pick holes in,” Dorrington said.

“They would go to a coach with the results of an expected goals (xG) model and the coach would say: “But you don’t know where the goalkeeper is. This is worthless.” Obvious problems like that make it hard to get buy-in on the football side.

“StatsBomb data was created with that in mind. We collect over 3,400 events per match, more than double the amount of some of our competitors, and as I mentioned before our data set includes key additional contextual information that just isn’t found in the data of other companies in this space.

“Our goal has always been and continues to be to create the most football-applicable data set and associated statistical models. Just this year we have already launched StatsBomb 360, a revolutionary new product that provides a snapshot of player locations on each event we capture, and On-Ball Value (OBV), a model that seeks to measure the impact of each on-ball action in terms of its effect on the probability of a team scoring or conceding.”

One particularly interesting aspect of the StatsBomb model is the measurement of pressure – a metric developed to try and help clubs better understand and quantify the events in a game that create pressure on an opponent.

“We record a pressure when a player moves to within a given range of the ball carrier in an attempt to close down the ball. There can be multiple players applying pressure in the same action,” Dorrington said.

“The lack of pressure data was one of the key flaws in the existing datasets before the launch of StatsBomb data. It gives so much more information to work from when assessing defensive contribution.

“To give a widely understood example, if we wanted to analyse Roberto Firmino’s defensive contribution at Liverpool with the previously available event data, we’d only have around three tackles and interceptions to look at for every 90 minutes he’s on the pitch, around 90-100 per season.

“With pressure data, we have an additional 23 or so defensive actions per match, around 750 per season. That is a huge increase and one that allows us to get a much clearer picture of when and where he is involved defensively.”

According to Dorrington, StatsBomb was continuously assessing its model to try and find new-and-improved insights it can provide clubs.

“While there are many clubs who have successfully integrated data into their decision-making processes and who are deriving real benefit from that, there are still many where there is a disconnect between the data people and those who are making decisions and where there isn’t enough of an understanding of how data can be used effectively,” he said.

“Beyond that, there are many emerging markets in which data is barely being used to any meaningful degree. We are committed to providing models and analysis tools that are just as applicable at the top end of the game as in those lower-budget scenarios.

“The teams with the biggest budgets and most qualified personnel will continue to raise the ceiling of possibility but we hope to help democratise data so that teams with less resources still have an opportunity to compete.”

Victory may well be the first cab off the rank in Australia, but they may not be the last.

“It is interesting that since announcing our partnership with Melbourne Victory, we’ve already had a couple of enquiries from other A-League teams,” Dorrington added.

“We often find that’s how it works. You get an early mover in a given league or territory and then others follow.”

You can find out more on StatsBomb and their features here.

FC Barcelona and Ownix to create historic NFTs

Barcelona

LaLiga’s FC Barcelona and non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Ownix have joined together to create unique digital assets through photos and videos, depicting iconic moments from the Club’s storied history.

With football clubs entering the world of NFTs at an increasing rate, FC Barcelona are looking to set a benchmark in the creation of these types of digital assets.

As part of this strategy, the Club has signed a new global partnership agreement with Ownix, a premium marketplace for NFTs based on the standards of the Ethereum blockchain – a platform for sharing data that cannot be manipulated or changed.

This alliance between FC Barcelona and Ownix will provide a new way for the Club to reach its followers from around the globe, as fans will now be able to acquire and own digital assets that will reproduce unforgettable moments throughout the Club’s almost 122-year history via various auctions taking place throughout the season.

The agreement between FC Barcelona and Ownix is part of the Club’s global expansion strategy and a further commitment to seek out new channels and formats to connect with new generations, while providing a different form of interaction with their fans around the world.

FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta:

“Barça has a very large fanbase around the world and is leading the way in the digital domain with over 400 million followers in social networks,” he said.

“Given this scenario, the Club is constantly looking for new ways to connect with its fans, and we believe that creating these NFTs is a unique opportunity to continue growing and consolidating the Barça brand by bringing unique moments that have made Barça fans dream and FC Barcelona a well-known club on every level.”

Ownix CEO Guy Elhanani:

“As NFTs surge, we thought it is important to give those collectors who are Barça fans an opportunity to own a piece of their Club’s history,” he said.

“This new and exciting asset class allows collectors to own things that weren’t possible to own before, and we’re thrilled to offer sports fans an opportunity to spearhead the movement. Our Mission is to bring customers to purchase NFTs, not because they are marketable, but for the pleasure and pride of owning them.”

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