Record Optus Sport statistics backed up by immediate A-League Women support

-League Women - Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers season 2023-24

Following the memorable FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, supporters have already started to show that crowd and viewing numbers won’t dwindle down.

Optus Sport revealed their data and insights from the tournament, where they were the only place to see all 64 matches. During the four weeks of the World Cup, viewing figures and social media numbers rose at a considerable rate.

In a Women’s World Cup that saw the Matildas finish fourth, Optus Sport captured the substantial ratings generated.

Below are the findings as per Optus Sport:

  • Coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 delivered the highest total minutes streamed for a tournament in Optus Sport history – up 30% from minutes streamed for UEFA Euro 2022.
  • Biggest month ever in Optus Sport history for total minutes streamed – up 17% on previous record.
  • On average, Optus Sport customers watched more than 21 hours of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 coverage, with 75% viewing on TVs.
  • Three FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 matches are now in Optus Sport’s top five games of all time in terms of minutes streamed, with nine FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 matches now in the top 20 overall.
  • Over 100 million video views across all social platforms throughout the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
  • Over 4000 pieces of content created/published throughout the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
  • Optus Sport social platforms reached approximately 3.6 million Australians.
  • More than 400 articles covering the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 published throughout the tournament, achieving the highest ever monthly engagement in Optus Sport history, with 7 million reads.
  • Optus Sport FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Google Web Stories for the Matildas matches against France and England are the highest viewed Google Web Stories recorded in Australia.
  • Optus Sport experienced the biggest sign-up day ever in Optus Sport history.

Based on the start to the A-League Women’s season for 2023/24, the above numbers and figures are not a fluke.

After an off-season that saw Brisbane Roar, Canberra United, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC all achieving their highest membership numbers ever, fans have begun to flock to games in a similar vein.

In opening round, Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets was the record for the highest attendance for a standalone regular season Liberty A-League game, but that number was surpassed in the very next match by a Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers derby that welcomed 11,471 fans to Allianz Stadium.

This will build a fantastic platform for the Liberty A-League – one that features penalty-taking hero Cortnee Vine running around for Sydney FC each week.

Not only that, the relaxed atmosphere of matches will allow young fans to look up to their favourite players and get them aspiring for bigger and greater goals.

Clive Dickens, Optus VP Television, Content and Product Development, stated that Optus Sport will be continuing to drive the positive momentum and shine the light on the women’s game going forward:

“Optus Sport continues to invest in – and be a champion of – football in this country,” he said via media release.

“And the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 served up some of the most incredible action we’ve ever seen; to have this played out across Australia and New Zealand and to see the crowd’s reaction to these amazing athletes has been truly incredible.

“We are dedicated to growing women’s football – and football more broadly – in Australia. The results reinforce the audience’s appetite for our best-in-class content strategy that brings world-class commentary and access-all-areas content that you can’t get anywhere else.

“We’ll continue to shine a light on the world’s best footballers, including our very own Matildas Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, Mary Fowler, Alanna Kennedy, Clare Wheeler, Courtney Nevin, Lydia Williams, Teagan Micah, and Mackenzie Arnold.”

Sources:

  • QuickSight analytics, total minutes from all matches in OS history.
  • Emplifi, total video views across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube from July 20 to August 20, 2023
  • QuickSight analytics, total minutes streamed and paid account reach from July 20 to August 20, 2023
  • Google analytics and Apple News, total article views and unique reach from July 20 to August 20, 2023
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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

A-Leagues Unite Round returns for a second season

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have confirmed the return of Unite Round to the A-Leagues for the 2024/25 season with some changes from the first edition.

The A-League’s ‘ultimate away day’ utilises the same idea as the AFL and NRL with ‘Gather Round’ and ‘Magic Round’ respectively, where one round for both men’s and women’s leagues will all be played in one city.

The second instalment of Unite Round will be once again hosted in New South Wales and will now start on 22 November and conclude on 24 November, instead of taking place in January.

The six games from each league will be split into three double headers throughout the weekend. All of the men’s games will be played at Allianz Stadium whereas the women’s games will be played at Leichhardt Oval. However, Commbank Stadium will not be a featured venue, unlike last season.

Due to the inception of Auckland FC into the A-League Men, there will be an uneven number of teams in the league and therefore each club must serve a bye each weekend. The bye will fall onto Melbourne City during Unite Round, but their women’s side will still play that weekend.

The APL seems to be satisfied to give it another shot, but it still raises many questions about what has been done to entice fans to make the journey to New South Wales and what improvements have been implemented to make this round sustainable for future seasons.

Last year’s fixtures showcased many high-scoring games, with four out of the six men’s games during Unite Round having five or more goals scored- with Adelaide United’s Hiroshi Ibuski and Macarthur FC’s Ulises Dávila both scoring hat-tricks during the weekend.

However, crowd numbers were quite low given the stadiums where these games were being played. To provide context, Leichhardt Oval, Commbank Stadium and Allianz Stadium have a venue capacity of 20,000, 30,000 and 42,500 respectively.

A-League Men Unite Round Crowd Numbers:

  • Macarthur FC vs Western United at Commbank Stadium: 3,441
  • Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City at Commbank Stadium: 7,117
  • Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium: 8,147
  • Sydney FC vs Adelaide United at Allianz Stadium: 11,918
  • Brisbane Roar vs Newcastle Jets at Allianz Stadium: 3,948
  • Perth Glory vs Wellington Phoenix at Commbank Stadium: 1,632

A-League Women Unite Round Crowd Numbers:

  • Melbourne Victory vs Perth Glory at Leichhardt Oval: 1,130
  • Wellington Phoenix vs Central Coast Mariners at Leichhardt Oval: 1,938
  • Canberra United vs Adelaide United at Leichhardt Oval: 1,183
  • Brisbane Roar vs Newcastle Jets at Leichhardt Oval: 1,417
  • Western United vs Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium: 4,039
  • Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City at Commbank Stadium: 1,515

For the first time as a way to get more people to travel to New South Wales, full-season members at every club will be given access to complimentary tickets to their club’s fixtures at Unite Round. This could potentially see an increase in crowd numbers, but there are still other factors that may steer fans away from travelling.

According to the Unite Round FAQs on the A-Leagues website, the APL is working with a few providers on travel discounts for fans to travel to New South Wales, but at the moment, flights aren’t the cheapest if you decide to plan ahead.

The cheapest interstate flights in Australia can range from $200 to $600 depending on where you are travelling from. But when you take into account fans of Wellington Phoenix and Auckland FC who may want to travel from New Zealand, the cheapest flights will cost from $400 to $600. Also, fans would need to sort out accommodation and that too is still another expense fans will have to deal with.

The idea to bring Unite Round for a second season enables fans from Australia and New Zealand to come together and celebrate football in one location. The fixtures that have been released should excite all A-League fans as the two New South Wales derbies are being played that weekend.

Taking into consideration the expenses fans have to deal with, it may not be feasible for some fans to enjoy the festivities. However, it’s still early days and the APL could potentially sort out ways for fans to make it easier for them to travel.

Considering the league undergoing some financial troubles, they’ll be hoping to make the most out of Unite Round and continue it for more future seasons to come.

Football Victoria choose INTIX as exclusive ticketing provider

Football Victoria have confirmed a new and exciting partnership with ticketing and membership company INTIX, which will commence in 2024 in time for next season.

INTIX will become the exclusive ticketing provider for all FV-managed events and will be the preferred provider for events at The Home of the Matildas.

This collaboration will also make FV’s event management more efficient and improve communication with fans and sponsors through their CRM systems.

INTIX is an Australian owned and operated company that specialise in event operations, ticketing and marketing specifically for sporting events.

The company was established in 2017 by Alex Grant with an ambitious goal to provide the best ticketing platform available to event organisers, clubs and venues.

INTIX partnered with Melbourne Victory to provide digital ticketing for all its corporate hospitality functions, and they have worked many high-scale football events.

The company also has experience in the NBL with the Tasmanian JackJumpers and in 2021 worked with AFL Victoria to supply ticketing services to metropolitan leagues and clubs.

This partnership for FV scratches the surface for what is the possibility in the future for NPL and A-League matches that have completely different systems. The expensive processing fees of Ticketek and Ticketmaster have left many fans frustrated at the process of purchasing their ticket and success with this collaboration could see INTIX expand inside the sport of football.

FV Executive Manager of Commercial, Chris Speldewinde, spoke about the improvements to matchday operations that will be made through this collaboration.

“We are thrilled to join forces with INTIX. Their state-of-the-art ticketing and CRM solutions will not only optimise our operations but also elevate our engagement with fans and sponsors. This collaboration signifies an exciting new chapter for Football Victoria,” he said in a statement.

INTIX’s advanced ticketing system will simplify the purchasing of tickets to these events and be readily available to fans online, reducing wait times to provide seamless access into events.

As the Home of the Matildas begins to stage bigger events, this partnership importantly professionalises the experience of getting to the seat and helps FV manage big crowds a lot easier.

It’s a collaboration that allows FV to focus more on strategic growth initiatives and delivering a better experience for fans and stakeholders.

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