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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?

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. Follow him on Twitter @PhilipPanas

3G pitches to help clubs in a post-COVID world

As football clubs around the world deal with the COVID-19 health crisis, the future use of more artificial pitches could help organisations navigate around these financially distressing times.

That is at least the view of former FA technical director Dan Ashworth, stating that the FIFA-approved football turf provides opportunities for clubs to host various events and pursue the development of their own academies.

In the UK, Maidstone United were the first ever English club to build a brand-new stadium using the highest quality 3G artificial surface.

That was in 2012, and since then, other notable clubs in the non-league divisions including Sutton United, Harrogate Town and Bromley have all made the move (in the National League) and installed 3G pitches.

The English Football League have considered allowing 3G fields in League 1 and 2, however, a vote in 2014 on the matter was tied.

This means that any club playing on an artificial pitch has to remove the surface if they want to be promoted into the EFL, even though 3G fields are allowed for the Women’s World Cup, Champions League and many other professional leagues in Europe.

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Joint-owner of Maidstone United Oliver Ash believes Dan Ashwoth is right in saying 3G pitches should be a prominent option for EFL clubs impacted financially by COVID-19.

He told fcbusiness: “With this terrible Covid-19 crisis affecting so many people and damaging so many football clubs, which are vital to their communities, we have to think outside the box if we are to avoid financial meltdown.

“Going forward it will all be about sustainability. Clubs will have to find ways of making their businesses sustainable in the interests of their supporters and their actual survival. One obvious way of achieving this is by installing a 3G pitch.

“We have now had five years’ experience of 3G pitches in the National League. We have seen supporters and players embrace the change in playing surface; we have seen that the highest quality 3G pitches encourage good football but also allow physical players to get stuck in; we have seen no particular injury problems, a welcome absence of postponements, and local people coming in their droves to watch and play football at our clubs seven days a week. It’s been life-changing in a totally positive way.”

Ash estimates that those clubs who decide to use 3G fields can generate a further £400,000 worth of income a year. This is the case because of direct pitch-hire revenue as well as indirect earnings from supporters coming into the club. Savings are also made on maintenance and postponements.

Using his own club as an example, Ash explained Maidstone United have registered a profit every season since the pitch was installed eight years ago.

“We know and respect the fact that some people still prefer to play on natural surfaces, even down in League 2, where pitch quality is inconsistent,” he said.

“However, the benefits of 3G pitches are so massive and the problems facing football so huge, it would be irrational not to give League 2 clubs the option to install them without delay and take advantage of the opportunity to transform their clubs into sustainable businesses capable of surviving this crisis and thriving thereafter,” he concluded.

Maidstone United, Sutton United, Bromley and Harrogate Town are the leaders in advocating for change in the EFL.

With leading experts in the game looking to restructure football in some capacity, what is generally the norm may be no more.

One day in the near future, these clubs could have access to the EFL without having to give up their 3G pitches.

On a local front, are 3G pitches a suitable idea for NPL and A-League clubs? Get in touch with us via email or our social channels.

Football NSW’s NPL.TV continues to make its mark

Football NSW has announced that all National Premier Leagues NSW Women’s and National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s matches will be live streamed, exclusively on NPL.TV when matches commence this weekend.

Prior to COVID-19 halting all competitions, NPL.TV was launched as an exciting new destination for fans of NPL NSW to view games. The landmark streaming service is a key partnership between Football NSW and leading sports media and data agency Sportradar.

On NPL.TV, the platform will be fully broadcast including complete commentary for all NPL NSW Women’s and NPL 2 Men’s matches throughout the 2020 season.

NPL.TV will also stream top-tier NPL NSW Men’s and NPL NSW Men’s Under 20’s when they are due to recommence later this month.

The platform is regarded as an OTT service capable of allowing content to be streamed from mobiles to televisions via Chromecast or Airplay.

NPL.TV is free for those in Australia and accessible on all web browsers, with the option to purchase a ‘premium’ Full HD package at a small monthly cost.

Football NSW has confirmed the following opening round matches can be viewed live and exclusive on NPL.TV this weekend:

Round 1 NPL NSW Women’s

Sunday 19 July

3pm – Blacktown Spartans v North West Sydney Koalas – Blacktown Football Park

3pm – Manly United v FNSW Institute – Cromer Park

3pm – Emerging Jets v Sydney Olympic – Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility

3pm – Sydney University v Macarthur Rams Womens – Sydney University Football Ground

3:30pm – Northern Tigers v Bankstown City – North Turramurra Recreation Area

7:05pm – APIA Leichhardt v Illawarra Stingrays – Lambert Park

Round 1 NPL 2 NSW Men’s

Saturday 18 July

7pm – SD Raiders v Hills United – Ernie Smith Reserve

7pm – NWS Spirit FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles – Christie Park

7pm – Blacktown Spartans v Central Coast Mariners – Blacktown Football Park

7pm – Northern Tigers v Newcastle Jets – North Turramurra Recreation Area No 1

Sunday 19 July

3pm – Hakoah Sydney City East v St George FC – Hensley Athletic Field

Football NSW’s move from social media streaming to Sportradar’s innovative OTT platform will allow the organisation to control the content, allowing for more in-depth and data-driven insights into the area of viewer behaviour and can outline how this can tell more engaging stories to these fans.

La Liga to release broadcasting innovations documentary

La Liga is set to release a documentary detailing the broadcast innovations it has introduced since the league’s return in June.

The programme is titled ‘BehindTheCameras’ and is a one-off documentary. It will be shown on La Liga’s broadcast partners around the world and focuses on how the Spanish top-flight and the broadcast team were able to create a virtual atmosphere for matches.

A virtual atmosphere became necessary after the league returned without crowds. However, they’ve committed to giving fans the best home experience possible.

The documentary shows how they used virtual stands and crowd audio to improve its television broadcast. The stands displayed to-scale images of fans as well as the home team’s colours and club slogans. The league worked with Norwegian company VIZRT to create this experience.

Crowd audio was also used thanks to EA Sports who had previously recorded audio of fans. New camera angles were also a part of the virtual experience – different cameras and angles were used such as aerial cameras.

“It will focus in particular on how La Liga has offered virtual atmosphere as part of its broadcasts across the last 11 match days. The one-off programme will be aired around the world by La Liga’s international broadcasters,” La Liga said in a statement on Friday.

“Broadcasting a live sporting event with virtual crowd noise has been a veritable challenge for La Liga, a pioneer in this kind of virtualisation, and a step unprecedented among sports leagues around the world.

“With this in mind, La Liga has decided to offer a behind the scenes view of the entire process and show fans the innovation and hard work which underpins the technology.

“The BehindTheCameras documentary will showcase everything that has gone on behind the scenes and feature interviews with those who have played a major role in making it possible, including La Liga’s Audiovisual Director Melcior Soler; Head of TV Production at LaLiga Sergio Sanchez; Match Director at Mediapro Oscar Lago; and wTVision’s Willem van Breukelen.”

This is the second documentary La Liga has produced, following TodayWePlay, which premiered last month. TodayWePlay focused on the creation of the Return to Competition Protocol during the league’s break due to the Coronavirus.

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