How much value can each of the world’s top sports leagues and teams generate from their fan base in the digital environment? This question is answered in The Digital Value of Fans report, released recently by Horizm. The study’s methodology uses the total value generated by the content that each entity publishes on their social media and divides it by the audience on the main networks used by fans, such as Twtiter, Instagram and Facebook.
The world’s top leagues are targeted in the first part of the report. Premier League, LaLiga and NBA stand out both for the size of their audience and the value generated from their social networks. It should be noted that, during the period analyzed, the first quarter of 2021, NFL and MLB were not playing games/off season for at least part of that time.
The most important metric in the report comes next: the value per fan generated by each of the analyzed leagues. In this case, the NHL emerges as the leader of the ranking with 0.17 euros for each fan that follows the hockey league in digital media. Next is Premier League, with 0.15 euros. Between the NBA (0.11 euros) and the Bundesliga (0.08 euros), third and eighth in the ranking, the difference is minimal, just 0.03 euros.
The NHL’s leadership is explained by the league’s high performance in the engagement and reach of its content, although other entities such as Premier League, LaLiga and NBA have a much larger amount of content.
The second section of the report addresses the need for sports clubs and franchises around the world to get to know their fan base on social media. This is one of the most important steps in executing a commercial strategy, and the journey to deliver value to this audience starts with an understanding of their characteristics and desires. The index described in the previous paragraphs continues to be used to demonstrate which sports entities generate the most value for their fans.
Contrary to what was seen in the initial section, when sports leagues were the object of study, the report needed to divide clubs and franchises into two categories:
The first is made up of global entities, which have fans spread all over the world, having more than 20 million followers considering Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This is the case, for example, of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, PSG and the NBA Los Angeles Lakers franchises, Golden State Warriors.
In this first group, English clubs stand out in the ranking of generated value for each fan. Manchester United tops the list, with 0.19 euros for each fan. Liverpool at €0.17 and Tottenham at €0.16 are fourth and fifth respectively. Also in the top 10, Chelsea (0.15 euros, 6th place), Arsenal (0.13 euros, 7th place) and Manchester City (0.10 euros, 10th place). This positioning is a consequence of a large volume of content produced by these institutions, although the individual performance per post is not so expressive.
The second category, called Elite Teams, is made up of teams that have between 2 and 20 million followers on these platforms, such as Athletic Bilbao, Brooklyn Nets of the NBA, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills of the NFL. The Florida franchise was even the one with the highest fan-generated value, with 0.50 euros. This level was reached with the conquest of the last SuperBowl by the Buccaneers.
Although in lower positions, this list brings some NHL franchises, whose work contributed to the valuation of the league as a whole in the previous ranking: Washington Capitals, Saint Louis Blues, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.
Social media was also a subject of the report. Instagram was the social media where football clubs and sports franchises generated the most value for their fans in the first four months of 2021. The network was responsible for 49% of the 264 million euros that digital channels earned at the beginning of this new year. Next, we have Facebook, with 36% of the total, and Twitter, corresponding to 15% of the value.
The document also highlights the most prominent channels in each market. Considering the clubs in Europe, Instagram appears as the main point of value generation for the fans of these clubs. Athletic Bilbao presented an index of 0.93 euros of value per fan, analyzing only this social network. Other highlights were their rival, Real Sociedad, Inter Milan and Manchester United, with 0.41, 0.39 and 0.34 euros generated for each fan on Instagram.
Meanwhile, American sports franchises are more prominent on both Facebook and Twitter. In both cases, the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear as the leader among the sports institutions that have delivered the most value to their fans. Other institutions that featured prominently on both lists were Buffalo Bills, also from the NFL, and Saint Louis Blues, from the NHL.
The report also highlights that, with the advancement of technology in the production of digital content, leagues, clubs and sports franchises have become holders of a huge amount of content, previously explored by television channels. Even if these entities do not have the same expertise as the media channels, which include current streaming platforms, there is a great opportunity to use the content produced to generate value for a new portion of fans and sponsors.
This analysis of the global scenario must also be considered in Brazil. Clubs and federations have difficulties in building a strategy in this area. Content producers, entrepreneurs and startups who want to follow this path may be the engine that was missing to leverage the media sector of the sports market in the country.