Revolution tends to come from innovation. Whether it’s through technology or the mind.
The YouTube revolution has changed the way we view and access soccer content. Some soccer supporters are even cutting the cord and choosing YouTube over broadcast TV. Fans are posting about watching their favorite matches, and posting their favorite matches.
In this world of generations reaching the end of the alphabet (seriously where are we going after Z?) one thing is clear, YouTube is king of social media and video streaming for soccer. So much so, that in our most recent survey the streaming site ranked first in social media platforms visited weekly. It isn’t just for the hardcore either, YouTube also ranked highest in social media visitation for casual soccer fans.
How are soccer fans using YouTube:
- 61% of soccer fans use YouTube daily.
- 43% of soccer fans use YouTube multiple times a day.
- It is the #1 social platform of choice for ‘Gen Z’.
- It is the #2 social platform of choice for ‘Gen Y’.
- It is the #2 social platform of choice for ‘Gen X’.
YouTube has become a place for TV networks and soccer leagues to get their hooks into viewers. FOX Sports broadcasted the first Bundesliga game of the 15/16 campaign live on YouTube. While viewers also had the option to tune into the game live on FOX, thousands used YouTube to get their German soccer fix.
And live streaming isn’t all FOX is doing to catch the American soccer fan. The draw of Javier Hernandez had fans choosing to grab the highlights on YouTube rather than watch the actual game. When only 1,000 people were watching Bayer Leverkusen v. Darmstadt, the highlights for the game received 50K views on FOX soccer’s YouTube channel. Even the most recent highlights involving Mexican superstar Chicharito have garnered over 30,000 views on Fox Soccer’s YouTube channel in just one day in the U.S.
Speaking of leagues, USL Pro, the third division of soccer in the U.S., hasn’t found a home on traditional cable or satellite. So now USL Pro has begun broadcasting their entire season completely on YouTube for free. USL Championship and Playoff games have garnered between 8,000 and 15,000 views in the 2015 season. If it weren’t for a platform like YouTube, many less people could consume USL soccer.
But the site hasn’t always been this big powerhouse when it comes to broadcasting soccer. When I was 17, in 2006 (yes, I am getting older, I know), our main option for soccer specific content was FOX Soccer. Try explaining to your parents that you want them to pay $15-20 more to add a soccer specific cable channel just so you can watch reruns of “Dream Team” and West Ham United matches. They may tell you to get a job. Luckily, I did find savior in a small, free YouTube channel called KICK TV.
KICK TV was just one soccer channel of many, but it was the first channel receive funding from YouTube to help increase the quality and quantity of their output. Now, Kick TV has grown to over 1.5 million followers and has made digital stars of Rachel Bonnetta (now of MLS fame) and former USMNT player Jimmy Conrad. Both have become US soccer influencers in their own right. Best of all, I was able to choose what league I wanted to learn about and could do it on my own schedule.
Beyond KICK TV you don’t have to look too much further than Hugh Wizzy. Wizzy was one of the main talents in the early days of soccer and this tastemaker has worked hard to build his YouTube brand. Hugh is known as an Arsenal supporter, but has become equally influential covering MLS. He has certainly played a role in furthering the digital footprint of the league with his 73K subscribers who listen to, and watch, his every word.
Fan Generated Content
The site isn’t just for the content powerhouses of the world either. Individuals such as you and I can also make things happen. Only just a year ago, Spencer Owen was a random West Ham supporter playing FIFA, carrying a camera to games and complaining about the style of play. Now, he has 1.1M subscribers on YouTube, and has worked for both West Ham United and EA Sports’ FIFA franchise. Even if you don’t know his face, you most certainly know his voice if you play FIFA. For FIFA ‘16, Spencer is the voice of the tutorials for every English language copy of the game on the planet. It has become a platform for the everyday Joe to make a living doing what they love.
All this comes to a point: brands now have a scalable, dynamic social soccer platform to compliment other media investments. And, they can work alongside these entities to come across as authentic and genuine lovers of the game.
EA Sports, for example, brought on these young Internet stars to further their brand and gain the brand loyalty from followers. Initially, they enlisted YouTube influencers to create their own content surrounding upcoming FIFA game releases. As these influencers pushed out content, little did EA know they would create a massive, organic snowball effect. Kids and adults alike started posting their FIFA videos on to YouTube and now, year after year, millions of hours of FIFA content are posted and consumed via YouTube.
During the World Cup last year, Adidas sponsored a series, called “The Dugout”, which lived on the brand’s YouTube channel. In the show, they interviewed soccer stars and legends, gaining over 100,000 unique views. Importantly, they chose to publish this content exclusively on their owned YouTube channel. Going this route most certainly increased their overall ROI for the content they created.
I truly love working within this space. It is something that has really molded the way I consume soccer.
I want commentary? I go to podcasts. I want matches? I go to the bar or maybe watch a stream here or there. But honestly, I doubt there is a medium that is as important to my soccer habits as YouTube. I have daily content at my fingertips. I can cherry pick topics that interest me and I choose what I view. I am no longer tied to a broadcast schedule. No more TV Guide for me.
Where YouTube will evolve for soccer fans is anyone’s guess. There is increasing video competition, and the world of digital soccer consumption continues to flatten. But you can bet that each and every day I’ll be following the trends and exploring this platform’s possibilities even further.