From Seat to Screen

Sebastiano Putti - July 17, 2020

From Seat to Screen – Thoughts on the migration to online streaming and the opportunities for EFL clubs

The Championship re-started on the 20th of June after 3 months due to the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the government guidelines, all the fixtures are being played behind closed doors depriving clubs of one of their main streams of revenues: match tickets.

Fortunately for clubs, there is an opportunity for another income stream which hasn’t previously been possible… streaming.

A new income stream…

Unlike the Premier League where all games are being shown on television, with a number available on free-to-air channels, and the first time on terrestrial television since 1992, the rest of the professional football pyramid have the opportunity to show their games online. Of the 71 clubs in the Championship, League 1 and League 2, the majority have opted to use the EFL’s iFollow service where matches can be purchased on pay per view basis at the cost of £10 per match. Furthermore, season ticket holders could request a voucher code to have access to all the matches, as compensation for their ticket.

17 clubs opted out of iFollow and have provided their own service, including our client, Birmingham City. They have offered the fans the opportunity to follow the matches live through the club’s streaming platform BluesTV.

The exceptional circumstances, and a streaming service as the only means available to watch most of the fixtures, drove a sensible increase to the number of people accessing it, exceeding the expectations of the club.

But also a new opportunity

Those numbers include fans that are generally not very active online, but who decided to start connecting with the club using a new channel.

According to the report Online Nation published in June by Ofcom, internet users in the UK spent on average 4 hours and 2 minutes online each day, 37 minutes more than January 2020, and also an all-time highest. Users in the age band 55+ increased their average time on the web from 2 hours and 29 minutes recorded in November 2019 to 3 hours and 16 minutes in April 2020. The highest increase recorded between all the age bands during the same time range.

The data from Ofcom might suggest that part of the population might have increased their usage of the online services, and their confidence with them.

The question is, will this remain a one-off experience for the fans, or will they start engaging more regularly with their favourite club in a non-traditional way? This trend represents a big opportunity for clubs like Birmingham City to start engaging with this segment of fans and try to stimulate their activities online.

Once online, those fans could be targeted with tailored data collection strategies, and the use of tracking tools would give the club the chance to obtain more information on them.  The data and insights collected could be used to develop multi-channel marketing strategies to increase the engagement of the fans, improve their experience with the club, and drive revenues… something Jonas Sports can help with. Get in touch.


By Sebastiano Putti