Written by Luke Charalambous
This weekend saw a city divided as European giants Real Madrid, took on plucky underdogs Atletico Madrid, in the Champions League final. And while the game itself was an entertaining one – more fascinating was how audiences across the globe consumed the biggest club football competition in the world.
‘The most social sports broadcast ever’ was how BT Sport described this weekend’s clash in Milan. And there really is no arguing with that. The final was broadcast across television but also for the first time ever live-streamed on YouTube for free and covered extensively by Snapchat.
And that’s not all. BT Sport also took advantage of Facebook’s ‘Live’ platform to screen interviews with pundits and players; live-tweeted action clips and ran an Instagram competition to select the poster for the event.
Long gone are the days of short shorts, mullets and BBC coverage. How we consume football has been revolutionised. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Vine were all employed to engage fans. And the campaign definitely had its desired effects. YouTube alone boosted viewing figures by 1.8 million. The beautiful game is now the social one – and there is clearly no looking back.
BT Sport’s huge push for the Champions League final is a lesson to all on how to utilise and maximise the potential of social media and mobile devices. By pioneering a social campaign, BT reversed a downward trend in viewing figures and placed itself at the centre of millions of conversations.
The concept of social media as a broadcast platform is not new. But before this weekend, it has arguably not been executed to its full potential. BT Sport has demonstrated how to broadcast directly within social platforms, rather than teetering on the edges and shouting with hashtags.
Football is, of course, just one example and companies across all industries can adopt similar methods to increase accessibility and start conversations. It has also just been announced that Wimbledon has signed a multiyear deal with Snapchat. So it’s clearly catching on.
As the way we consume content changes, the delivery of content must change with it. BT Sport’s efforts should serve as a reminder to marketers to make the most of all the channels available to them – and to ensure they’re always looking to the next development rather than becoming too comfortable with the status quo. By thinking in different ways and introducing new initiatives marketers can appeal to wider audiences – just as BT Sport unlocked over a million new digital viewers.
Of course, there will always be traditional media, and sporting events such as the Champions League will always be broadcast on television. But now for example, Ronaldo’s title-winning spot kick must also be shared via Instagram for those looking for just the digestible highlights.
I for one am looking forwards to a more social form of broadcasting. And who knows, in just a few weeks’ time we could be watching England win the Euros on Periscope. Or maybe not.