Welcome to the first Battenhall Sports Social Review, which dives deep into the links between sports, social media and digital marketing. In the first edition, we take a look at the rise of YouTube boxing, Lionel Messi's move to Miami, the growth of women's football, and much more. Enjoy!
Social media and sports go hand in hand. Both capture live drama, make for great visual content, and ultimately are all about fan engagement.
Brands and business leaders are now eyeing up even greater possibilities. They are leveraging the power of social media to drive new commercial opportunities, as Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have done so brilliantly at Wrexham AFC.
It’s a new era for how brands integrate with sports. That’s why we’re launching the Battenhall Sports Social Review. This new report will shine a spotlight on the most compelling stories, insights and data in sports and digital marketing today.
In our first edition we’ve taken a deep-dive into six key events that have set the sports world alight – and show how digital, particularly social media, has become a major disruptive force.
We take a look at how, where, and when audiences are consuming content, why sports are changing their marketing efforts to stay relevant, and what brands and marketers can add to their own digital playbook.
In the first edition we cover the following trends:
Six trends in sports and social media
1. Social influencers and YouTube boxing
The intersection of social influencers and boxing has evolved into a thriving industry, exemplified by the success of YouTuber bouts. From Joe Weller and Theo Baker's 2017 fight, to Tommy Fury and Jake Paul’s fight in Saudi Arabia, millions of people are tuning in and engaging with the content around each brawl. We explore how influencers’ massive followings - coupled with an ‘unconscious support ecosystem’ - translates to 100m+ organic reach.
2. Soccer in America
Lionel Messi's move to Major League Soccer's Inter Miami in 2023 created a seismic shift in the landscape of American sports, with the club’s Instagram account gaining millions of followers overnight. With global powerhouse brands like Adidas and Apple in the mix, we assess how collaboration between talent, brands, and marketers can lead to global transformations.
3. Changes in TV punditry
The Premier League’s recent surge in younger and more diverse audiences has prompted broadcasters like Sky Sports, Amazon Prime, and TNT Sports to revamp their pundit lineups. Sky Sports, in particular, has replaced veteran faces with younger personalities, while TNT Sports has cast an all-female hosting team, and embraced an omnichannel approach. We analyse how social media metrics are highlighting the importance of relatable and diverse personalities.
4. Growth of women’s football
Women’s football is experiencing unprecedented growth, fueled by the success of major tournaments. Meanwhile, platforms like TikTok have become important hubs for women's football communities, with players being relatable and authentic. Brands such as Google and Lindahls are already seeing the potential, creating new partnerships with teams and players. We explore why now is the time for brands to get involved.
5. The rise of F1
Formula 1 is one of the fastest growing sports in recent years, following a multi billion dollar takeover by broadcaster Liberty Media in 2017. Record viewership and younger audiences has meant F1 and its drivers have embraced a digital-first approach, turning participants into content creators. Whether it’s Fernando Alonso on TikTok or Martin Brundle’s grid walks going viral, we explore how a creator-led content strategy has been the key to major wins.
6. NBA’s social slam-dunk
The NBA’s digital marketing strategy has been a resounding success, generating over 32 billion engagements during the 2022-23 season. A multi-platform approach, including Snapchat and Twitch, has cultivated a younger and international fanbase. Meanwhile, high-profile collaborations with players and brands, and content that is adapted for a diverse range of platforms, has created sustained success. How can other sports look to replicate the NBA blueprint?