Young football fans demand their football experience to be mobile and enjoy brand associations with the football content that they view as long as the branding is entertaining and not sales-based.
Content that drives emotion and entertains such as memes, gifs and fan reactions, is as important to fans as match footage, news and stats, according to the new Copa90 and Fuse Sport + Entertainment ‘Euro 2016 Fan Survey’ of Generation Z football fans aged 13-24.
Twitter, which remains the go-to channel for live updates on football, represents a major opportunity for brands. According to the research, 79% of young fans enjoyed seeing tweets from brands that were entertaining and funny during Euro 2016, and 77% feel Twitter is a great place for brands to show personality during a sport event.
The survey highlights the importance of new emerging video and messaging services like Snapchat and WhatsApp, alongside established social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Some 80% of the young fans surveyed use Snapchat regularly and 65% use WhatsApp.
During a live game, 74% of the audience also engages in social media while watching the match. However, the young fans remain big users of broadcast TV, 83% watching the majority of Euro2016 matches on live TV as opposed to live stream or in the stadium. This TV viewing is often combined with app-based content, 53% use football apps as a second screen experience, with sharing of content on social media also proving popular.
Gen Z Fans demand their football experience to be mobile, with the research showing more than 85% use a mobile device as their main way of consuming Euro 2016 content online. And Gen Z fans are not just passive consumers of football content – 78% say they shared football content on social media at least once a week, and 74% say they regularly post their own photo or video content on social media.
The Copa90 and Fuse Sport + Entertainment research also highlights that sales-driven content can put users off. It shows 82% enjoying tweets from brands that aren’t just trying to sell, this despite four out of ten of the fans using ad blockers.
Like most football followers, Gen Z fans are looking for insider knowledge around match news (72%) and team line-ups (88%). However, they also have a high propensity to engage with content that drives emotion and entertains. Over 70% say they enjoy funny memes, gifs, footage of fan reactions and stories from the world of fan culture. After a match, there is a short window for brands to reach football fans, 48% of users have finished looking for related content within an hour of the end of each match.
In terms of the brand recall of Euro2016 sponsors, the research shows Adidas as the most visible, with 571 fans recalling the brand’s involvement, followed by Coca-Cola (410) and Carlsberg (326). Some 35% of Euro 2016 viewers say they discovered new brands through word-of-mouth recommendations and 28% from a recommendation on a social network.
Barry Flanigan, Chief Product Officer at Copa90’s parent company Bigballs Media, said: “Young fans consume a huge amount of football content on social media like all fans, but what stands out is the huge importance of a mobile-first experience, alongside their heavy usage of messaging platforms. It’s the content beyond the 90 minutes that this audience cares about, not just the usual match news and stats. The fans don’t have a resistance to brands creating content for them that they love, just to those supplying more traditional, interruptive advertising that looks to sell and gets in their way.”
He added: “Gen Z football fans are big users of ad blockers but anything that is genuinely entertaining and resonates on a personal level, especially if fans can share it with others, appeals to them.”
Stephen Hutchison of Fuse Sport + Entertainment said: “Being constantly connected, young football fans are today demonstrating completely new consumption behaviour compared to older football fans. They really embrace content that exhibits personality and humour.”
The Euro2016 Fan Survey follows several recent groundbreaking Copa90 initiatives to get closer to football fans. These include a Snapchat show co-created with The Bleacher Report, content distribution on the SkyGo and Virgin Media platforms, and a one-off live event with Ibiza Rocks.
Detail on Methodology
The Euro 2016 Fan Survey combines insight from Copa 90 and Fuse Sport + Entertainment, part of the Omnicom Media Group. The study represents Copa90’s latest use of new insight from its audience of young fans to deliver detailed analysis for brands and other partners within short timeframes.
On this occasion, Copa90 received more than 2,010 direct responses from its football audience in July, through a cloud-based survey that was promoted on Copa90 show ‘Comments Below’ and across its social channels.
Fuse Sport + Entertainment conducted global buzz monitoring of English language conversations around Euro 2016.