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Final Essay

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Final Essay

  1. 1. William Duncan The Business of Sports Professor Dawn Hiscock April 8th, 2015 The Effects of Social Media, Media, and Technology on European Soccer Sports are a bonding agent for the entire world. With its youthful, energetic fan base, sports have been able to keep up with modern trends while not losing sight of the traditions that makes sports so enjoyable. European soccer, undoubtedly the world’s most popular sport, commands a “relatively young, international fan base” who are leading the charge into the shift into a technology-dominated world. Innovations in social media, media, and technology are allowing soccer to be a leader in the world’s plunge into the digital age. Social media has grown at a rapid pace since the development of websites such as MySpace and Facebook. The later has been the standard of success of today’s social media channels, proving so with continued success, innovation, and growth. The emergence of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has presented athletes and sporting brands a whole new, efficient, and inexpensive channel of advertisement. European soccer, the most popular sport in the world, dominates the social media world. Cristiano Ronaldo just eclipsed Shakira as the most popular Facebook page ever, with over 102 million likes (https://www.facebook.com/Cristiano?fref=ts). FC Barcelona, Real Madrid C.F. and Leo Messi also made the top 12 most popular pages,
  2. 2. each amassing more than 75 million likes. ("Statistics of the Top Facebook Pages."). Social media has become an extremely effective and efficient mean of advertisement for players, clubs, and leagues. F.C. Barcelona, for example, can post a picture on Facebook announcing the time and place of their next match with no advertising costs (https://www.facebook.com/fcbarcelona?fref=ts). With their success on the field and their massive social media following, 81 million likes on Facebook alone, F.C. Barcelona is able to promote their event to literally millions of people with just a click of a button. There is no cost for posting a picture, so clubs who use social media effectively take advantage of this and promote themselves as much as possible on social media. Clubs can use social media to close the gap between fan and club. With videos, pictures, and posts, clubs can give the fan media a way to get to know the team and club better, something that was impossible in the past unless one went to a game and got a tour of the facilities. F.C. Barcelona shows pictures of practices and videos of casual player interviews, which allow the fans to get to know the side of the player off the field. The relationship, which clubs can foster with the fans by effectively advertising through social media, promotes strong growth and raises awareness for the club. Clubs are not the only group that can use social media to advertise themselves. Players have been using social media extremely effectively to promote their brand. Fans crave to get to know their favorite players. Now, through the different channels, they can. Players can use the different social media channels to promote themselves by giving an inside look in their lives. Two players who do
  3. 3. excellent jobs at self-advertising are Neymar Jr. and Leo Messi, star forwards for F.C. Barcelona. Neymar is exceptionally good at promoting himself through Instagram (https://instagram.com/neymarjr/). Pictures and videos of he with his friends, practices, and simply goofing around allow fans to get and like to know the personality of Neymar. The more Neymar connects with his fans and allows them a view into his life, the more fans will want to see him play or buy his jersey, which makes him money. Leo Messi, known to be a quiet person, utilizes Facebook well to promote his values. Photos of he with his family, teammates, and advertisements of causes which he supports gives fans insight that he is a family man who is a normal guy and actively cares and supports causes that matter to him. It is easy to like a person like that, who is a good person, who is very much like the average guy, yet is the best soccer player in the world. Messi does an excellent job in making videos of him speaking directly to his fans (https://www.facebook.com/LeoMessi/videos). While he may not be a talkative person, by speaking to his fans through videos, he shows that he cares about his fans and increases his likeability, which leads to people buying his jerseys and Adidas gear, making him more money. Athletic brands also use players’ social media channels in a similar manor for free advertisement. The two largest athletic brands, Nike and Adidas, fully take advantage of sponsoring players as a method of advertisement. Brands will have their sponsored players talk about and show their favorite new products from their sponsored brand. Nike’s soccer poster-boy, Cristiano Ronaldo, is always promoting Nike gear or wearing Nike gear in his pictures. Not only does this show the inside life of one of the best soccer players in the world, but it is free advertisement for
  4. 4. Nike. When a fan sees Cristiano Ronaldo wearing a cool Nike hat or a new pair of boots, the fan wants to be like Ronaldo, so he/she will buy the gear, making Nike and Ronaldo money. Currently, Ronaldo’s profile picture on Facebook is he smiling and pointing to his signature Nike boot. He is showing how excited he is to have his own custom boot, and being a polarizing figure, convinces many to buy the boot for Nike. Messi is a similar type of advertisement for Nike’s rival, Adidas. Messi also has his own signature boot, which he promotes through pictures and videos for Adidas as well. Sport, in particular European soccer, has taken advantage social media to promote players, brands, and clubs. The free advertisement and ability to connect with fans have fostered growth in all accounts. Television and Internet are also having a profound effect on European soccer and it’s growth worldwide. The Internet has allowed fans from around the world to connect with their favorite teams. Other than the aforementioned social media channels, Internet websites such as ESPN FC (http://www.espnfc.com) give American fans the opportunity to keep track of European soccer from across the Atlantic. Since American soccer is not on the same level as European soccer, Americans might tend to follow European soccer more closely, which is great for European soccer. Websites such as ESPNFC.com and UEFA.com allow the game to expand to non-European countries, which only develops the game further, creating more revenue and popularity for the sport. Television has been a huge asset for the growth of sport. However, in the past, European clubs have been able to individually negotiate television rights rather than as a league. For the 2015-16 season, for example, F.C. Barcelona agreed
  5. 5. to a deal with Telefonica for a whopping 140 million Euros, compared to smaller clubs in La Liga, who might receive 18 million Euros from television (Corrigan, Dermot. "Barcelona Agree €140m Deal to Sell TV Rights - Report."). Due to this discrepancy, larger clubs in leagues with no league-wide television contract, such as F.C. Barcelona or Real Madrid in La Liga, are allowed to find their own deals. Being the larger clubs, they are able to command a larger television contract, leaving the smaller clubs to only be able to negotiate minuscule deals in comparison. This leads to a huge imbalance in viewership in leagues like La Liga, which drastically restricts the smaller clubs’ viewership and severely limits their opportunity for growth. On the other hand, leagues with a more balanced approach, such as the Premier league, offer more balanced revenue sharing, leading to better overall competition between teams – La Liga has been dominated by Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona for as long as anyone can remember. The better overall competition in the Premier League prompted Sky and BT Sport to pay a record 5.136 Billion Euros for television rights in the 2015-16 season (Smith, Ben. "What Does Record TV Deal Mean?). This way, lower tier clubs in the Premier League are able to bring in more revenue, allowing them to purchase better players, keeping the balance of competition more equal than their La Liga counterparts. There are other television programs about European soccer as well. Barça TV, for example, is a television channel owned by F.C. Barcelona. It specializes in all things F.C. Barcelona: soccer, handball, basketball, etc. It cannot, however, broadcast actual games. The channel must resort to showing highlights and discussion based programing since the rights to televise games go to Telefonica. Barça TV is very
  6. 6. similar to ESPN in its programming, except it cannot broadcast full games. While Barça TV is available to most people in Barcelona and Spain, Telefonica and the channels that broadcast full games are not. People are forced to go to bars or restaurants to view games, since many times, they cannot afford the subscription to view games. This strategy does promote game attendance, however. According to Statbunker.com, top-tier clubs F.C. Barcelona and Real Madrid are first and third respectively in average game attendance of UEFA clubs as of the 2013-14 season, each averaging over 70,000 fans per game (Home Attendance UEFA Champions League 13/14.). With high attendance numbers, the powerful clubs are able to collect more ticket revenue on top of the massive television rights deals that they have negotiated. Along with the growth of social media, television, and Internet in European soccer, the sport has also seen technological development within the game. One example of technology influencing the game is goal-line cameras installed in the goal posts so that referees can more accurately judge what is a goal and what is not. The technology, called “Hawk-Eye” and “GoalRef,” is quite expensive for teams, reportedly costing about “$200,000 per stadium” (Bell, Jack. "Soccer to Adopt Goal- Line Technology). The technology’s necessity is debated, however. UEFA President, Michel Platini, is strongly against the new technology, being quoted in 2010 as saying, “Eyes have always functioned and have always worked, so I am more in favor of testing the experience of whether the referee there has seen whether the ball went in or not, let's wait and see how the [five-official system] works before seeing whether goal-line technology is important" (Press, Associated. "UEFA's
  7. 7. Michel Platini: Video Not needed). The technology was approved, nevertheless, and it was implemented exponentially to arrive in time for the 2014 World Cup. Disputed goals have raised the question if this technology is necessary. Of course, there are traditionalists, like Michel Platini, and pro-innovation supporters, who are in favor of new technology, in every sport. Whether or not the technology is able to take a permanent place in soccer, such as instant replay has in the National Football League or Major League Baseball, is up to the leaders of the game. Ultimately, the growth of social media has led to athletes, clubs, and leagues to be able to effectively increase advertisement efficiency by freely posting on media channels. Social media allows the groups to connect with their fans and relate to them. As the fans see more into their favorite player’s lives, they are more likely to buy related products. Media, television and the Internet to be specific, has a direct influence on competition within individual leagues. Revenue sharing and league- wide television deals like the Premier League’s new 5 Billion Euro deal allows the entire league to be more competitive and fan friendly, unlike La Liga, who allows teams to individually negotiate television rights. Lastly, innovations in technology, such as goal line cameras, are the source of controversy in the soccer world. The integrity of the game is questioned when referees are not trusted to make calls on their own. However, other major sporting leagues have trusted technology for instant replay to make critical decisions, which is why soccer is likely to follow.
  8. 8. Works Cited Bell, Jack. "Soccer to Adopt Goal-Line Technology." The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 July 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/sports/soccer/soccer-to-adopt- goal-line-technology.html?_r=2>. Corrigan, Dermot. "Barcelona Agree €140m Deal to Sell TV Rights - Report." ESPNFC.com. N.p., 17 Feb. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://www.espnfc.com/barcelona/story/2303144/barcelona-agree- 140m-euro-deal-to-sell-tv-rights-report>. "Home Attendance UEFA Champions League 13/14." Statbunker Football. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://www.statbunker.com/competitions/HomeAttendance?comp_id= 468>. Press, Associated. "UEFA's Michel Platini: Video Not needed." ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/news/_/id/5499700/european- soccer-president-michel-platini-says-video-technology-not-needed>. Smith, Ben. "What Does Record TV Deal Mean?" BBC Sport. N.p., 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/31386483>. "Statistics of the Top Facebook Pages." Socialbakers.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2015. <http://www.socialbakers.com/statistics/facebook/pages/total/>.