April 08, 2024

From CR7 to American leagues. How much is a strong digital presence worth?

April 08, 2024

From CR7 to American leagues. How much is a strong digital presence worth?

For several years, sports have expanded far beyond touchdowns, triple jumps, or goals. Everything that physically challenges humans in various sports competitions has moved from traditional stages to exist, in various formats, on smartphones and devices that accompany us daily through social media. There, a successful move seeks likes, shares, and engagement, a dunk aims to gain more followers, access to the team's backstage aims to retain fans, or a giveaway aims to bring more people to a digital stadium without seating limitations. For all these reasons, it becomes crucial to better understand this universe. The publication, in March, of the report "Digital Value of Fans - Redefining Social Media Valuation & Analytics" brings to the table an analysis that clearly illustrates who can reach more audiences, generate more value, and convert it into the digital world.


Europe with higher attendances; the US with more money generated per fan

Analyzing the main sports leagues, not limited to one sport, the report identified that the top 25 leagues account for over five billion followers and 3.5 billion euros of value generated in 2023. The Premier League (football/England) leads in audience and generated value (€541,939,406), however, Europe and the king of sports are dethroned by North American leagues when it comes to the value generated per fan. Here, the top three are the National Football League (American football/USA), National Hockey League (ice hockey/USA and Canada), and Major League Baseball (baseball/USA and Canada).

American leagues stand out when it comes to conversion, in their ability to generate more money from their fans, largely benefiting from the fact that these sports (American football, ice hockey, and baseball) have the vast majority of fans concentrated in North America, where CPM (cost per thousand impressions) are higher. Proof of this is that none of these leagues reaches the podium in terms of viewership - there, alongside the English Premier League, reside La Liga (football/Spain) and what is probably the most globalized American league: the NBA (basketball/USA and Canada).


Football reigns in audiences and revenues

When the analysis focuses on clubs, football and Europe become kings once again. At least to some extent. Real Madrid has the highest attendances, with FC Barcelona and Manchester United completing the podium. In this metric, one needs to go down to the 13th place to find a team not competing in a football league and not European, a position held by the NBA's Golden State Warriors.

Regarding the generated value, football and Europe maintain the podium, with the same teams, just in different positions: here United is first (€139,804,232), Real Madrid second (€129,925,933), and Barcelona third (€109,350,766). However, when we narrow down and check how much this total corresponds per fan, the most well-known clubs of Western European football fall to make way for Galatasaray (football/Turkey), followed by Mercedes (F1) and Corinthians (football/Brazilian League). Closing the top 5 is Al Nassr, currently the 18th team in the world with the most followers (49,340,198 million), benefiting from the growth of the Saudi Pro League, the 13th in the world with the most followers, and also from Cristiano Ronaldo, the undisputed GOAT, when it comes to social media.


CR7, undisputed leader in digital platforms

When metrics focus on athletes, the captain of the Portuguese national team is the biggest name on social media. CR7 is the personality with the most followers on social networks worldwide. To understand the dimension of the Portuguese's universe, the audience of the Al Nassr player exceeds that of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, the two clubs with the most followers.

Unsurprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo is the athlete whose followers generate the most value. Here football dominates the podium with the Portuguese accompanied by Lionel Messi, the second athlete with the most followers, and Mohamed Salah (football/Liverpool).


In Portugal, lies the most profitable publication of 2023

Portugal stands out prominently in this report in a particular metric: posts activated in partnerships with brands. It was SL Benfica (football/Portugal), in partnership with Sagres, that made the most profitable publication of 2023, reaching a value of over €692,000, surpassing, for example, an activation between Real Madrid and Emirates or FC Barcelona and Spotify.

In this type of publication, giveaways dominate due to the high engagement they show they can generate. The publication by Benfica, for example, refers to an offer of five double tickets for the game that confirmed the conquest of the Liga Portugal Betclic in 2022/23.

Although this is the only presence of a Portuguese club in this report, Liga Portugal is represented and ranks 23rd among the 25 leagues with the most audiences, maintaining the same position regarding generated revenues (€25,849,025). However, when the value generated per fan is analyzed, the top tier of Portuguese professional football jumps to the 12th place, surpassing the Big 5 or the NBA.

The "Digital Value of Fans" report, prepared by Horizm, focused on the values generated in 2023, analyzed over 12,000 rights holders and brands, over 11 million social media posts, and a trillion impressions.