Super League Saga

In what was an extremely turbulent week for Football fans across the world, the proposal of a “European Super League” (ESL) finally came to what we assume is a conclusion on Tuesday. Or is it?

The ESL was the proposal of a brand-new tournament in which 20 teams (15 founding clubs and 5 qualifying clubs) would compete in what is seen as the elite competition in Europe. The catch however being that the 15 founding clubs who were the self-proclaimed “best in Europe” would continuously compete forevermore, without the chance of being replaced. This inevitably caused outrage across the Footballing community, as it seemed to suggest large ramifications for teams that didn’t get an invite.

When considering all of the catalysts, it becomes clearer as to why some parties may fall on each side of this argument. Sky, who own the broadcasting rights across both Sky Sports and BT Sport, were understandably against this proposal due to the implications this would have on the viewership and subsequent lack of importance of the Premier League. This is largely due to the £1.19bn that Sky pay for these rights each year, which continues into the 2021/2022 season when the ESL was scheduled to commence.

Taking the viewpoint of the Football fan, it becomes very difficult to see who would be for this proposed ESL? However taking a step back, there are a number streaming services who would justifiably be in favour of a tournament in which 20 of the biggest teams, with global followings, would compete each week.

Firstly, Amazon. A global competition such as the ESL would have huge commercial interest from territories such as Asia, in which these founding teams have millions of fans. Amazon has dipped its toe in the water by hosting a number of Premier League games on their Prime offering over the last couple of years, so there is clearly an interest in the industry of live sport streaming. One aspect to contemplate is that Amazon has been very limited in its success to infiltrate the Asian marketplace due to the existence of the Alibaba Group, which is one of the world’s largest retailers and e-commerce companies. By association themselves with this globally viewed property, it would prove a great opportunity for them to gain penetration in some of the world’s largest economies.

Secondly is Disney. It has been just over a year since Disney launched their Disney+ platform to compete with the likes of Netflix. Disney have a target to surpass Netflix and Amazon Prime by the year 2025 across their suite of streaming services, which include the likes of Hulu and ESPN. What the ESL provides is an opportunity to accelerate this success through ESPN, which is a well-recognised sporting property across both Europe and more importantly North America. The proposal of a very “Americanised” format of a league and playoff, which is common practise across sports that are popular in North America (American Football, Basketball, Hockey and even their own soccer league, the MLS), provides an enticing prospect for fans in this territory.

With the prospect of this new ESL, it was truly a move to lure in a huge audience of new “digital fans” through the prospect of a globally commercialised league. What both Amazon and Disney will have in common is that they will be considering the eventual death of 3rd party cookie trackers across major internet browsers by 2022. This eventuality has led large media organisations such as Amazon and Disney to consider new ways to collect valuable 1st party data, which millions of global subscriptions can surely satisfy. This continues to ensure their targeting offerings digitally remain strong, where others may suffer.

With so many factors at play, not least considering the affect that Covid has had on the clubs who tried to form the ESL, it is unsurprising that few have still refused to give up the idea of the proposed Super League.

Super League or no Super League, the past week has proved the enduring popularity of football in the UK and globally, and the value that is placed on the fanbase. This is a global group who are willing to invest heavily to follow their chosen teams, and as such remain extremely attractive to advertisers. It is little wonder therefore that ITV will be charging upwards of £250k per 30 second spot during England’s games at this summer’s Euros. This may be out of reach for many advertisers, but it does not exclude them from engaging with such a valuable audience. There are a plethora of cost effective options when it comes to this, ranging from Digital OOH and branded experiential through to bespoke Digital packages. Contact us to find out more about a wealth of advertising packages to suit any budget, ready to engage with football audiences in what looks to be a historic year for football both on and off the pitch.