Sports are increasingly crossing national and cultural borders, driven by their increasing availability on digital channels.
That’s one of the key findings of the Adobe Digital Index (ADI) analysis of social buzz around the closing stages of the UEFA Champions League (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company).
The analysis used Adobe Social to look at more than 60 million social media mentions of the Champions League around the semi-finals and ahead of the final on 6 June, across all major social media properties, including blogs, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, Twitter, Dailymotion, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, VK, Disqus, Foursquare, Metacafe, Wordpress and YouTube.
The analysis showed that enthusiasm for the Champions League has increased dramatically in the US, with the social buzz there more than double last year’s. In fact, the US recorded the third highest level of buzz around the Champions League, after Spain and Indonesia.
Global Expansion Of Sports
“We’re seeing a global expansion of sports,” said Simon Morris, Director Demand Marketing EMEA, Adobe. “It’s not just the Champions League gaining popularity in the US; the NFL is talking about expanding in Europe. And it’s a digital trend, creating a groundswell of mobile and digital video use. This is good news for marketers, because it brings higher viewership and higher engagement, and brings in advertising money from other areas.”
Morris attributes the growing popularity of football in the US to the fact that all matches in last year’s World Cup in Brazil were played at times that suited the US audience, and also to digital channels making far more European games available to US viewers.
The level of US enthusiasm for the Champions League can be seen by comparing social media buzz around the final stages of the competition with that around the NBA playoffs, which are currently being contested in the US. ADI analysis shows the two competitions “neck and neck” for social buzz globally. However, the teams contesting the Champions League final--Juventus and Barcelona--are seeing three times more buzz than all of the NBA playoff contenders combined.
“A lot of Champions League mentions are coming from outside the teams’ home countries,” Morris said, “whereas most of the NBA mentions are coming from the US.”
Messi Dominates Social Buzz
Barcelona striker Lionel Messi dominates the buzz around individual players in the Champions League, with more than three times as many social media mentions as his teammate Neymar and 3.4 times as many as NBA star LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And Barcelona’s strike force--Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez--combined have had more than 10 million mentions since April. This is despite Juventus just edging out Barcelona in terms of social media mentions going into the final.
“About half of the mentions of Messi relate to his goal when he beat Jerome Boateng in the semi-final against Bayern Munich,” Morris said. “That’s the sort of iconic moment that gets people to share on social.”
Buzz-worthiness Adds Value To Players
As Morris pointed out, buzz around sports stars is becoming important for marketers as well as for the players themselves.
“Social media fandom is becoming a factor in player values in the US,” he said. “When LeBron James moved to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he increased the social media buzz around the team 37 times. That adds massive value for marketers.”
ADI also carried out sentiment analysis around the Champions League, which showed equal levels of Sadness and Admiration (30 percent each). The next highest emotions recorded were Joy (accounting for 20 percent of the buzz) and Surprise (11 percent).
“For sports and anything involving fans, people turn to social to express all their emotions,” Morris explained. “It’s different for brands, where people tend to turn to social to express negative emotions. What that means for marketers is that the emotions surrounding sports events are not necessarily related to how receptive people are to a marketing message.”
Read related article, “Sports Marketing’s Next Big Score Is Soccer, Suggests ADI”
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