Horizm Report: Premier League clubs dominate digital world

The future of the sports industry lies in the digital world. From how it is consumed to how it is commercialized; sport has grown increasingly reliant on digital channels such as social media for business operations. The recent report by Horizm further delves into which sport is leveraging sports in the best possible manner.

The digital inventory of the world’s top sporting leagues across primary social channels i.e Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is projected to be worth more than €1.1 Billion in 2021. Of this total, the world’s top 20 sports teams by inventory value are projected to account for two-thirds, offering €733 million in the same period.

Instagram is the most valuable of the three primary social media channels for the world’s top sporting leagues & teams, accounting for 49% of the total value generated. Facebook accounts for 36%, while Twitter stands at 15%.

The study by Horizm shows that activity is the biggest lever of value, with a greater correlation present between activity levels and value than with engagement rate and value. Horizm uses Intelligenz, their benchmarking solution that uses AI to project digital performance based on publicly available data.

In this report, the algorithm has been used to compare Q1 inventory and audience size, value per fan, and the primary drivers of value – activity levels and post-performance from the world’s leading sports leagues and teams. For finding the value of these drivers, analysis has been focused on the three primary social channels.

Collectively, teams of the Premier League have produced the most amount of digital inventory in Q1, ahead of La Liga and NBA, and are projected to be worth more than €350M in 2021.  Meanwhile, La Liga has a projection of €219M followed by NBA at €142M.

Sports entities that have a social audience of more than 20 million across their primary social platforms are dominated by European Football teams. In this category, Manchester United has the biggest digital inventory in Q1, ahead of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool & Chelsea and has a projection of €105m in digital inventory this year across social channels. Manchester United is also the most efficient at generating value per fan, ahead of the Golden State Warriors and Inter Milan.

Value Per Fan a new industry metric represents the ability of a league or team to generate value from its digital inventory on a per capita basis. The analysis of value per fan – calculated as total inventory divided by the total audience. The results for the same show that NHL is the most efficient with a value per fan of €0.17, leading the way ahead of the Premier League (€0.15) in second place and NBA (€0.11) in the third.

The success of a generation of value per fan further depends upon two key factors: Activity level which is the number of posts published in the given period. The second factor is  Performance per post, a quality index that combines engagement rate and impressions rate to determine the average performance of a post based on accordance with the relative size of the audience. Analysis of the major sporting leagues shows that NHL is the only league in the high-performance quadrant, delivering high levels of activity and performance per post.

Social media is a commercial opportunity for sports teams at all levels. For a fair analysis of the same, the report divides teams into two categories. Elite Teams that have a combined following between 2m and 20m on social media and Global Brands, the biggest teams in the sport that have followers in excess of 20m.

The Premier League’s so-called Big Six clubs are amongst the most efficient teams at generating digital value, wherein Manchester United are top overall, ahead of Inter Milan and the Golden State Warriors. The ranking is dominated by European Football teams, account for 15 of the 20 names in the list, while the rest are teams from the NBA.

Premier League clubs are also the most active in some way, with the league accounting for the top five places according to the volume of posts. In the category of Elite Teams are more US-dominated. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the most efficient in Q1, generating €0.5 per fan.

As sport looks to move forward post-pandemic and recover lost revenues, digital platforms offer a rich and largely untapped opportunity to bring in new commercial partners and offer more value for existing sponsors. As shown in Horizm’s report, the key to driving more value per fan across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is striking the right balance between increased activity and maintaining performance.

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