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UK based Eleven Sports Media continues to evolve – where next?

Founded in 2009, Eleven Sports Media continues to have a huge impact on the world of sport, particularly football.

The UK company provides a range of in-stadium products, that give fans a better engagement experience at the stadium.

The company’s development team built both its StadiumTV and StatTV platforms, which are a big part of the match day experience for over 500,000 fans in the UK.

The StadiumTV platform has over 1,800 screens and is now showcased at over 50 sporting venues, making Eleven the biggest media network in UK sport.

Its StatTV and StatTracker channel brings live stats to stadiums and official club social media platforms.

While their products continue to garner widespread attention, brands associated with the company are allowed to engage with these huge audiences across the football landscape.

Eleven have provided various partners with comprehensive activations, including PR support, detailed campaign reports, social media amplification and organised marketing opportunities.

The company has had critical success with its Partner Programmes setup, with their model recognised as the best in the Football Business Awards.

Eleven have a partnership with the London Stadium as well as clubs such as Newcastle United, Rangers Football Club and Leeds United.

The company believes the expertise and knowledge they have is a huge asset in a commercial partnership programme.

“We realised that many brands failed to have a predefined activation plan when they were partnering with clubs,” CEO of Eleven Sports Media, Matt Cairns, told fcbusiness.

“They were spending money on acquiring rights but then didn’t have a plan in place to fully activate that sponsorship and make it work.”

Eleven identified that there was little structure to most commercial partner programmes, therefore they implemented an organised tiered structure.

The use of segmented LED with their proprietary inventory, as well as a strong focus on applying activation strategies, help brands pinpoint the commercial opportunities they can capitalise on.

“We’ve sold or facilitated over 300 partnerships in the last 12 months and everyone has had built in activation which has been delivered by Eleven.

“We advise each partner on the exposure to be gained from the media buy, but also ensure that their campaign is amplified by helping the partner celebrate the partnership and ultimately raise the profile of the brand by taking their association with the club beyond traditional football audiences.”

Many start-ups lack the resources to take advantage of commercial benefits in a partnership, so Eleven has tried to address this.

By arranging an end-to-end solution, Eleven takes accountability to ensure partnerships are fully activated.

“For a partner programme to have true commercial success, it goes well beyond having the correct list of assets.

“There are dozens of variables which will result in success or failure, at Eleven we believe that it is that attention to detail which sets us apart from anyone else in the industry,” added Cairns.

Eleven gives clubs access to in-depth insights, campaign analysis and sales training to improve aspects of each partnership.

The use of Eleven’s Insights department has already given clubs the opportunity to achieve their highest commercial numbers in a partnership.

“Although clubs have commercial teams, many don’t have that dedicated resource around insight that we have where they can really delve into that next level of commercial insight,” added Eleven’s commercial manager, Jordan Wilson.

“We found that we were delivering it so successfully for ourselves it made sense that clubs should get this too and they’re finding it really valuable.

“It also gives us that next level of insight when creating new partnerships, ones that are meaningful and built on something.”

Cairns adds: “When a company is investing in a high-level sponsorship it can achieve certain goals by a standard associated set of rights, but it won’t achieve the true value unless it is harnessed and leveraged by the brand to the point it becomes ingrained in every part of the organisation.

“We understand that and have got a proven track record in delivering this service.”

With over ten significant UK Clubs already using the model, the Eleven Partner Programme is looking to explore its possibilities in Europe and other areas.

Is this a viable proposition to those in Australian football circles?

Everton’s Angry Birds Partnership – will we see more of this in an independent A-League?

After Barclays’ title sponsorship ended with the Premier League in 2016, a new opportunity presented itself for teams to sell lucrative advertising space on the sleeve of the club’s playing shirt.

In a competitive market at the time, Premier League club Everton signed a multi-year deal in 2017 with Finnish video game developer Rovio Entertainment, the creator of popular puzzle game Angry Birds.

Angry Birds was released in 2009 and since then has amassed over 3.7 billion game downloads.

By the beginning of the 2017/18 season only eleven of the Premier League clubs had secured a shirt sleeve sponsor.

“At the end of the Barclays deal with the Premier League it was a competitive market,” head of partnership management at Everton, Mark Rollings.

“Every club was going to market at the same time, but it was really important to find the right brand fit for us, one that we could work with and create a great partnership.”

Everton was one of the teams that started the season without a sponsor, however the Angry Birds logo finally debuted on the sleeve of their jersey in a mid-September clash against Manchester United.

Everton is a club that was established in 1878 and has a rich history, however there is an understanding to move with the times and enter innovative partnerships with companies such as Rovio.

“Throughout the process of securing our first sleeve partner we spoke with many brands. When we met with Rovio at their HQ in Espoo it quickly became apparent how exciting and mutually beneficial this opportunity was going to be,” Rollings stated.

“They’re great to work with. Whenever you partner with a brand from a business sector which is new to you, we take learnings from each other. The creative, flexible and can-do approach is definitely something we felt from day one of the partnership.”

Both sides initially faced a big challenge in launching the partnership.

“The leading character of the Angry Birds series is a red bird and it is ironic that this is both a colour and symbol commonly associated with the club’s city rivals.” Rolling explained.

“True to Rovio’s dynamic, bold nature, rather than skirt around it we decided to hit it head on so, in line with the trend around over exaggerated player signing content at the time, we announced the character Red as a Blue.

“Angry Birds created a great video of Red signing a contract with Everton and that gained positive traction for the launch. It was a fantastic way for a partner to tackle a potential issue and also immediately pledge their support to the club.”

Everton and Rovio continued to discuss more unique possibilities between the two organisations.

Eventually, these creative discussions would lead to Everton players Theo Walcott, Cenk Tosun and Gylfi Sigurdsson being re-imagined as playable Angry Bird’s characters.

This occurred at the start of the 2018/19 Premier League season, with the digitisation of these players into the Angry Birds Evolution game.

“It was a world first, there’d never been football talent in a non-football focused mobile game. And that gained a lot of attention with over one hundred pieces of coverage in newspapers and on back pages. It also achieved over five million views across related social media content.”

The integration of the playable Everton characters led to a 60% increase in downloads for the Angry Birds franchise over a two-week period.

It was also important for Everton that the partnership was well received by its fanbase.

Rollings claimed: “What you see with Angry Birds is if you create good activations that fans can see, enjoy and engage with, then you start to earn your place among the fanbase. Angry Birds’ approach was to bring the partnership to life through stories, content and activations that fans would enjoy. People will engage with quality partnership activation that adds value to their experience and the stats prove that.

“Our data and insights team run a regular partner tracking survey and that showed that in the first year of the partnership the opinion of Angry Birds improved by 22% among our fanbase. Angry Birds has been really received and people have understood the mutual value that it has driven for both brands.

“We also commissioned independent research which not only tracked Everton fans, but also Premier League fans, and in that survey awareness of Angry Birds as a partner of a Premier League club was between 60 and 70%, which for the length of deal they’ve had so far is pretty remarkable. So we’re seeing it’s not just Everton fans that are engaging with the partnership, Premier League fans are too.”

On a local front, will we see more of similar partnerships in the A-League now that rules look to be relaxing on a sponsorship front?

Time will tell.

Celtic land record deal with Adidas

Scottish Premiership champions Celtic have announced a five-year kit partnership with German sportswear giant Adidas – achieving a record deal in Scotland.

Beginning on 1st July 2020, Adidas will become Celtic’s new official kit supplier, covering both the men’s and women’s teams.

While financial figures and an exact figure haven’t been revealed in a disclosed deal, it is described by the club as a deal which is ‘the biggest kit sponsorship ever to be announced across Scottish sport’.

The news confirms an end to the Bhoys’ deal with New Balance, which was signed back in 2015 and reportedly worth as much as UK£30 million (AU$60.1 million). Before that, Celtic had held a technical deal with Nike.

“This is a hugely significant new partnership for Celtic and our supporters and allows us to look to the future with confidence,” said Peter Lawwell, Celtic’s chief executive.

“To be able to create this fantastic new relationship demonstrates the strength and stability of the club and the power of our enduring story.”

The partnership adds to Celtic’s remarkable championship record, winning titles every year since the merger of the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League in 2013.

‘Celtic’s successful football history and future ambition make us hugely excited to be working together to create a new chapter with one of the most famous football clubs in the world,’ said Adidas in a statement.

‘We are obsessed with helping athletes improve their game, life and world, and as such we look forward to supporting Celtic’s players on the pitch as they continue to create new levels of success, and we are confident their legendary fanbase will love our designs.’

On the pitch, Celtic are 13 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a game in hand on Rangers and remain on course for their ninth consecutive domestic league title.

However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, all league fixtures have been postponed until further notice as confirmed by the SPFL, with all domestic and grassroots matches put on hold to try and control the spread of the virus.

It is yet to be known if Celtic will officially be awarded their title with circumstances as they are.

Football NSW & QLD secure landmark OTT streaming service for NPL

Football NSW have confirmed there will be a new way for fans from both New South Wales and Queensland to watch games with the roll out of a brand new streaming service.

For details, please see the media release by Football NSW Media Manager Mark Stavroulakis:

SYDNEY

Friday 13th March

Fans of National Premier Leagues NSW have an exciting new destination to catch the action with Football NSW and Football Queensland today launching a landmark streaming service in partnership with leading sports media and data agency Sportradar. 

The new NPL.TV platform will broadcast more than 1,000 free, live and on-demand games throughout the 2020 season, with thrilling talent, goals and drama from the NPL Men’s and Women’s competitions becoming more accessible than ever. 

Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge said: ”NPL fans are among the most passionate in Australia and NPL.TV will provide fans with a feast of live games, replays and highlights each week. The success of our live broadcasts over the past four seasons has seen increased interest and support for our NPL NSW competitions and by introducing the new service we will make our competitions more accessible to supporters in Australia and around the world.

Football NSW Head Of Commercial Brian Meinrath said,“Our partnership with Football Queensland and Sportradar is a defining moment for the National Premier Leagues.  NPL.TV provides us with the means to control the delivery of the NPL to our fans and monitor how they interact with our content..  By aggregating content on the one platform, it gives us a huge opportunity to present existing fans with superior live and on-demand content as well as showcase our leagues to a new and expanding audience.”

The new OTT service is compatible with Chromecast and Airplay, allowing content to be streamed from mobile devices to television screens.

NPL.TV is free to Australian-based fans and will initially be available through all web browsers, with iOS and Android apps available soon. 

Subscribers can also upgrade to a ‘premium’ Full HD offering for a small monthly charge. 

The move from social media streaming to Sportradar’s OTT platform enables Football NSW to control the content, access deeper, data-driven insights into viewer behaviour and to tell more engaging stories to fans. 

David Edwards, Director of Sports Media and Partnerships, Oceania, Sportradar, said,“Today’s partnership agreement is the first-of-its-kind in the region and we’re proud to have jointly developed the OTT platform with Football NSW & Football Queensland. 

“Competitions are thriving across various footballing codes in Australia at the moment, and we’re seeing an increasing demand from both state-based and national sporting federations in establishing direct-to-consumer streaming platforms.  

“Niche competitions suit the OTT distribution model by allowing rights holders to take control of their assets and develop a direct relationship with their fans on their own terms. We look forward to helping National Premier Leagues competitions increase digital revenues and supercharge their fan engagement through our unique, data-driven approach to OTT.”

Football fans will be able to begin accessing live streams, highlights and full match replays at NPL.TV from Friday, 20 March. 

Stay tuned for more information on how to access the NPL.TV platform. 

ENDS

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