Tomorrow sees the European Champions League reach its finale, with this year’s final being held between 11-time winners Real Madrid, and Juventus, the current Serie A champions. Both teams are top of their prospective leagues and on form—Real Madrid have only lost three games all season, while two-times Champions League Winners Juventus have lost only five. So Saturday’s game at the Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium has all the potential to be a thriller.
Meanwhile, the beginning of July sees the start of UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 finals in the Netherlands. The event brings together 16 of Europe’s top national sides, including holders Germany, who have won seven out of the last eight tournaments, alongside Norway, the only other winner of the trophy, back in 1993.
Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) latest report, released this week, explores what impact these two major events in the football calendar have on the fans, clubs, sponsors, and the media.
The Competition Is Intense
There are a plethora of sites covering football, run by the clubs, fans, and media owners across the length and breadth of Europe. Website traffic and analytics site Alexa identifies over 5,500 football sites in Europe alone. The big European clubs such as Manchester United (8.5 million monthly visitors), Real Madrid (7 million), and Barcelona (6 million) are among the most visited football sites in the world. But the real winners when it comes to traffic are the smaller sites, which are growing faster than their larger counterparts.
Overall site traffic, however, has remained fairly static over the last two years, with only an 8% increase since 2015, suggesting that this is a highly congested and competitive marketplace.
Value For Money From Sponsorship?
Football sponsorship is big money. The gross commercial revenue from the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League, the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League, and the 2016 UEFA Super Cup is estimated at around €2.35 billion.
This year’s Champion’s League has a wide array of brands sponsoring the event, including Gazprom, Heineken, Nissan, PepsiCo, and Sony. Meanwhile, the Women’s EUROs have attracted sponsors such as Kia, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, and Adidas.
Although the Daily Telegraph claims that “sports sponsorship wields transformative power that is capable of driving exponential growth in brand awareness and affinity,” this isn’t reflected in the mentions sponsors get on social media.
Sponsor recognition online remained static from the qualifying rounds for the Champions League through to this week’s finals, and only amounted to 8% of the conversations when combined with tournament mentions. It seems that we are more likely to talk about the teams and the tournament than about the brands which are sponsoring the event.
Most Successful Players And Tournaments
Although a record-breaking global audience of half-a-billion people watched the FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea on TV this year, the 2017 Champions League had a greater international social media presence than the oldest football tournament in the world.
When it comes to engaging fans, the research showed that Instagram is the most authentic vehicle, and the place to reach football fans.
The two most awarded players in Europe are Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, with five Ballon D’Or titles to his name, and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo with four. However, when it comes to Instagram, Ronaldo has 102 million followers, and Messi just 72.8 million. This is unsurprising as Ronaldo is the more prolific on Instagram, with over 1,800 posts, compared to just 190 from Messi, although Messi gets the highest levels of engagement, with over double the comments to his posts.
Some of the highest engagement occured when both players posted up pictures of their sons—with Ronaldo getting 9.9 million views for a video of his son, compared to Messi’s 15.1 million views of his son dancing. Maybe Ronaldo needs to include the family cat in the next video to boost views!
When it comes to the top players in the women’s Euros, French striker Eugénie Le Sommer is the biggest player in the tournament, having amassed over 150,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter. In fact, the French side has the four most followed players on social media for the tournament.
Football also has its share of bad boys, with Barcelona’s Luis Suárez being responsible for a number of controversial incidents throughout his career. During the 2014 World Cup match between Uruguay and Italy, Suárez took a bite out of an Italian defender, and his social sentiment plummeted (to -0.015). It quickly rebounded, however, increasing to almost 2.3 a month later. It seems we’re ready to forget footballers’ indiscretions as long as their feet continue to do the talking. It will be interesting to see if Juventus—who are the “bad boys” of this year’s Champions League, with the most fouls committed and the only red card of the tournament—send their social sentiment through the roof if they win on Saturday.
About Adobe Digital Insights
Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
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