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The importance of esports in football

Interest in esports is ever growing, Influencer Marketing Hub reports that in 2020 there are almost half a billion esports followers – and Newzoo predicts that the audience for esports will grow to 646 million by 2023.

Football organisations also have a presence within esports. FC Barcelona, Manchester City and Bundesliga are among the many clubs and leagues who run or participate in esports competitions.

The Entertainment Software Association found that in 2018 there were over 164 million adults in the United States who played video games. With the large amounts of people playing video games it makes sense for football organisations to become involved in this industry.

James Gallagher-Powell of CSM Sport & Entertainment at the ESI (esports Insider) Digital Summer conference said that esports can help football clubs to attract a younger audience.

“In terms of this younger audience, I’m sure that many of you have seen the stats before, probably from a brand sponsor perspective. So why do brands think about sponsoring an esports property over traditional sports property,” Gallagher-Powell said.

“The average age for a Premier League fan is 42 and rising, and no doubt is higher than 42 within developed fan markets like in the UK. This ageing fan base begs two questions to football clubs: How do the clubs ensure their longevity and remain relevant to the next generation of sports fans? And how do they ensure that their club remains attractive to potential sponsors?

“esports can provide the perfect channel for this. It’s a way that clubs can attract a younger audience to their core operations, i.e football, and it can help clubs to safeguard their future popularity and therefore their future profitability.”

EA Sports’ FIFA games have become incredibly popular over the years. FIFA 20 launched on September 27, 2019 and by October 10, 2019 over ten million people had played the game across various gaming consoles.

Although despite this popularity of football games, CSM Sport & Entertainment’s Account Director Debs Scott-Bowden at the ESI Digital Summer conference said that these games were only a small part of the esports world.

“But whilst FIFA and PES are good entry points for clubs to go into esports, for the wider esports communities, these titles are largely considered niche. So for clubs looking to reach a wider audience, football games aren’t necessarily the best route to achieve this.”

Bundesliga has its own Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship. The championship will start on November 10 and will be the third season of the competition. The Virtual Bundesliga Club Championship will feature clubs from both Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2.

The Chief Executive of DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga Digital Sports and DFL Executive Vice-President, Andreas Heyden told SportBusiness in November 2019 about the importance of the VBL.

“The growth of the Virtual Bundesliga since its inception shows how seriously we are taking the whole area of esports. We highly benefit from out club brands and players [being present] but also we have proven to have created ne of the highest degrees of authenticity of the Bundesliga in the virtual world of stadiums, clubs and players,” he said.

Bundesliga is taking its esports approach very seriously and has major plans for the Virtual Bundesliga and hopes it can grow.

“We want to grow the Virtual Bundesliga to become out third competition brand, alongside Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga in regards to media rights, participation of clubs and users in the open series.”

“There are not many leagues who are committed as we are to create an eFootball league, with the amount of focus we are giving and the investment we are providing.”

In Australia, Football Federation Australia has the E-League.

Matches are streamed live on twitch. The finals of the 2020 edition of the series unfortunately had to be postponed due to COVID-19. The finals were due to be held at an event in Melbourne on May 9.

At the end of 2017 when the E-League was announced then FFA Head of Commercial, Marketing and Digital, Luke Bould, spoke about the appeal of an esports league.

“FFA’s strategy is to build a competition that provides FIFA competitors with the ability to represent their favourite A-League clubs and create more fans for the A-League and Westfield W-League. This is also a great way to connect the League more globally and in particular, with an Asian audience who love football and FIFA, but may not yet know the A-League.”

During the A-League COVID-19 shutdown, a tournament was also organised which featured both gamers and A-League players.

It is great to see that FFA and the A-League does take esports seriously and is following the lead of other leagues such as the Bundesliga. The FFA should continue to do so and look into expanding its esports properties.

Daniel Foley
Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

Football Coaches Australia launch XV Essential Skills program

Football Coaches Australia and XVenture are launching its FCA XV Essential Skills education and professional development program.

Football Coaches Australia (FCA), in partnership with XVenture, is excited to launch its FCA XV Essential Skills education and professional development program.

A global first, this is a revolutionary new coach education and development program delivered via a rich and engaging virtual world learning experience. The program will be readily accessible for all coaches, from local football to elite football.

The series of modules aim to develop the ‘essential skills’ of coaching – Emotional intelligence, Leadership, Communication, Culture and Resilience. It is filled with contemporary examples from football globally, as well as providing an overview of key research across the five modules.

The modules contain 20 subjects presented in a variety of fully integrated and multi-media style materials in the form of videos, articles, activities and podcasts and connected tests to confirm understanding of key concepts.

Exterior of FCA College

FCA CEO Glenn Warry outlined the potential that the FCA XV Essential Skills program has in growing the reputation of Australian football domestically and internationally.

“Our vision as an organisation is to promote the strength and reputation of football in Australia, and the reputation of Australian football on the world stage, he said.

“Our partnership with XVenture is going to enable the FCA to position itself as a world leader in the delivery of unique professional development experiences for football coaches.”

FCA President Phil Moss will introduce the course to participating coaches as they make their way through the virtual world of the FCA XV College foyer. Moss is enthusiastic about the exciting opportunities offered by the alignment between FCA and XV.

“This is a world first opportunity presented initially to Australian coaches but accessible to every coach around the football universe,” he said.

“At the very heart of everything FCA stands for is ‘for Coaches, by coaches’ – so this an incredible opportunity to enhance the continuing education around every coach’s journey no matter what level they are working at. It is something we, along with our highly valued partners XVenture, are just so proud to present.

“The global pandemic has taught us to be more innovative than ever before & these Essential Skills programs, inside our very own FCA College, is taking that innovation to heights never before seen!”

Speaking on a webinar last Monday evening, XVenture founder Prof. Mike Conway acknowledged the importance coaches have – not just in developing individual talent, but in guiding and ensuring the wellbeing of their players.

“Coaches are taught to have amazing skillsets on technical, tactical and physical, they’ve had that for a long time… where I try to bring in a new & different perspective in the elite sport environment is in the areas of emotional intelligence, leadership and communication. Where teams apply these skills typically there are higher performance levels,” he said.

“If you go into the Socceroos camp it’s a beautiful environment. We’ve got to make sure that players want to be there as they’re traveling all over the world for 10 to 15 days at a time, so we’ve got to make it a really positive environment and how we do that is part of the various different subjects.

“This education platform is a big project and I’m massively committed to football, I’ve grown up with it and so I see the power and the strength of what we can do when we’ve got a great coach working with great young kids, we can make a lot of change.”

Each of the modules were constructed in accordance with the principles of the Attention, Generation, Emotion and Spacing (AGES) model in an effort to ensure coaches learn quickly and are able to retain information far beyond finishing the course. The platform will include a total of 103 subjects which will take between 10 to 15 minutes each to complete.

Warry, in speaking on the modern approach of the FCA XV Essential Skills program noted how influential it can be for young players.

“In my work with university students over the past twelve years the big thing they tell us about delivery of content is that they don’t want anything in ‘longer bites’ than 10-15 minutes,” he said.

“This is the way young people are learning these days. In designing the pedagogy and the delivery model, [we’ve built] a state-of-the-art program in the way we’re delivering education.”

Upon completion of each individual module, coaches will receive 30 CPD points from Football Australia – as well as recognition of prior learning from a major Australian University following the conclusion of all five modules.

Modules will be released through a gradual rollout starting Tuesday April 6, 2021 – accessible for registration here.

TGI Sport lifts the stadium experience

As a leading sports technology company, TGI Sport are capable of implementing their digital expertise to improve a fans’ experience.

As a leading sports technology company, TGI Sport are capable of implementing their digital expertise to improve a fans’ experience.

Trusted by sporting organisations and brands since 1997, TGI Sport is a versatile business that delivers sports infrastructure, technology and media rights around the world. There is over 250 people employed globally across 12 offices.

Led by TGI’s chief commercial officer Patick Vendrely and director of digital strategy Gordon Campbell, they are able to help football clubs develop their very own digital identity, especially as we rebound from Covid-19.

TGI connects brands and stadiums to sports fans through their dynamic digital solutions. These include a proprietary broadcast & digital technology, infrastructure, event presentation, game day operations, fan engagement across major sporting leagues and a host of premier sporting venues.

TGI provides advertisers, sponsors, rights holders and brands with a unique and powerful platform to engage a sports audience – that shapes the future of sport event experiences on global scale for millions of people.

TGI are the digital and commercial bridge between rights holders, fans and brands. They capture valuable data, then analyse and utilise it to increase inventory, revenues and lead the industry in understanding how sports fans can relate to their club and brands.

Technology-based innovation, globalisation and rapid changes in consumer behaviour are revolutionising the ways in which sport is created, delivered, consumed and commercialised, where TGI can identify trends in markets. They offer a unique and consolidated approach built around data, technology and experience that ensures their partners engage and retain the fans, attract brands and deliver commercial value for right holders, stadiums, sporting leagues and brands, all while making sure that return on investment (ROI) can be achieved.

With a shift in focus towards what the landscape will look like post-Covid, TGI can look at how fans have become accustomed to technology. Due to the lockdown, to watch sport required HD video, surround sound, multiple screens at formats at home. For sports clubs, it means not only means they’re up against their own competition, but now it is what fans can do.

TGI aims to bring the best of both worlds together, where fans go to a game but are still immersed in the same technology at the stadium that they would be used to at home. Doing this promotes both the likelihood of these supporters returning and the potential for revenue through brands. Sports clubs can harness the power of mobile-led campaigns, with opportunities such as messaging, videos, live interaction from brands and live interaction from their favourite teams.

TGI have developed their Parallel-Ads (PADS) technology with LED screens inserted virtually, allowing for customised messaging for unique brands to different regions and geography.  This means that a broadcast for a match won’t be the exact same for each viewing audience, while it also relates to TV rights deals.

By delivering relevant advertising that people would like to see, it increases the revenue opportunities. TGI’s virtual technology means that each domestic feed is sold separately and the in-stadia feed can be sold differently to the broadcast feed. These solutions give sport organisations more control on how they want to be seen.

PADS technology also allows for TGI to send instant messaging within the stadium on LED boards. This creates a single platform to boost the value of brands. The idea is to bring a joined-up direct connection to the fan, rather than a scattering of disjointed advertising. By engaging with the customer directly, it can lead to bigger and greater growth.

For a number of years, TGI worked with FIFA on in-stadium advertising for several World Cup tournaments. TGI guided numerous partners through the transition from static to rotational advertising in countless sporting locations. TGI’s digital LED system solutions were deployed for the very first time on a major stage at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa.

TGI are renowned in the USA as a major player in stadium branding, and have also expanded successfully into Europe – now into the third consecutive 3-year-deal with UEFA. The UEFA Champions League and Europa League count on TGI for their digital advertising needs.

In 2018, TGI was acquired by leading digital media company QMS, complementing the existing sport portfolio across Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, TGI currently works with leading professional sporting codes and organisations, including Football Australia. The ambition is evident from TGI as they strive to expand its geographic footprint and diversify revenue channels.

You can find out more on the benefits of TGI Sport here.

Football South Australia added to NPL.TV platform

Football South Australia have joined up with NPL.TV to cover all 366 games of the NPL and WNPL for the season ahead.

Fans of National Premier Leagues South Australia have welcomed the exciting announcement that Football South Australia have joined up with NPL.TV to cover all 366 games of the NPL and WNPL for the season ahead.

Football South Australia has become the latest footballing body to join up with the NPL.TV, continuing the trend set by Football NSW and Football Queensland who have recently made the move to stream their footballing content through the platform.

All men’s and women’s games will be broadcast live, free and on-demand over the coming NPL season in an effort to expand Football South Australia’s consumer base. Fans will relish the opportunity to experience all of the eye-catching saves, spectacular goals and thrilling moments from the local game in a more accessible way than ever before.

The NPL.TV platform began in 2020, with fans of Football NSW and Football Queensland being treated to over 1,000 games worth of action in the past year.

By having their football content streamed on NPL.TV, Football South Australia have taken major steps in progressing the game throughout the state and across Australia.

Football South Australia CEO Michael Carter praised the ambitious nature of the move and the growth that it will ensure for the game in the state.

“Ensuring our NPL and WNPL games can be viewed on a dedicated platform via NPL.TV will take our coverage and accessibility to a new level in the state, he said.

“Anyone at a game or at home will be able to tune into their game of choice. We are pleased to have partnered with FNSW and FQ in showcasing the best of the NPL and WNPL competitions.”

NPL.TV is available via download for iOS and Android devices and can be connected to a TV through Apple TV or Google Chromecast. NPL.TV is free to download for all Australian-based football fans, with an option available to upgrade to a premium Full HD version for a small monthly fee.

The 2021 editions of the NPL and WNPL competitions kick off on Friday, April 9.

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