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A Vision for Univision

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Hispanic male consumers age 18-49 –  A targeted demographic for marketers, and an emerging consumer base for properties.  The interests of both intersect with Univision.

Univision has positioned itself as the preeminent network for Spanish language sports.  The large audiences which the network attracted for its World Cup broadcasts thrust the network into the forefront of sports media stories throughout the summer; however, its acquisition of the United States broadcast rights to  Mexican National Team matches leading up to the 2014 World Cup may have been the network’s most significant achievement of 2010. 

The Mexico vs. Ecuador match on September 4th attracted 2.7 million viewers, helping the network become the most viewed channel amongst 18-49 year-olds for the week.  This was the first time a Spanish language network had beat out its English counterparts in this significant demographic.  The match broadcast may have not been the primary reason for the network winning the ratings battle; however, the ratings bump which the network received on a Saturday night was of critical importance.    Furthermore, Univision’s exclusive rights to MNT matches enables the channel to drive its business interests with multi-platform content.

Prior to the Ecuador match, Univision announced a partnership with AT&T to deliver MNT matches to AT&T Mobile TV subscribers.  This deal was made possible due to AT&T’s existing relationship with the MNT through Soccer United Marketing, and Univision’s broadcast agreement with the MNT, highlighting the complexity of the digital sports landscape.  Additionally, the AT&T deal is a manifestation of the adept leadership at the network. 

Univision was able to secure the Mobile TV rights in addition to its broadcast rights.  Mobile TV rights have been the providence of governing bodies in the United States.   The network’s ability to procure these rights from the FMF was not only a coup for the network’s bottom line, but I believe its reputation amongst the three major sports leagues in the United States.   Univision’s partnership with the NFL to launch NFL.com/espanol demonstrates the increasing importance the network will have on the future domestic growth of the NFL, NBA and MLB. 

Whether you are considered to be a general market property (NFL) or a Hispanic focused property (MNT/MLS), Univision’s hegemony of the Spanish-speaking audience in the United States is a necessity.    The networks youthful audience (55.2% 18-49 compared to CBS’ 31.5%) is in concert with the Hispanic population’s demographic (49.5% between 18-49 compared to the non-Hispanics 44.8%), providing properties a forum to generate sustainable domestic growth. 

We continue to wait for Versus to evolve into a legitimate challenger to ESPN’s crown – which may very well happen if Congress ever approves the Comcast / NBC Universal merger – and continue to neglect an over-the-air network that delivers a premium audience to advertisers.  Don’t keep the blinders on too long, because there’s a horse gaining ground down the stretch.

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Can VW sell more cars because of its MLS sponsorship?

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Volkswagen was recognized as the Official Automotive Sponsor (OAS) of Major League Soccer by 55.0% of the 202 Major League Soccer fans I surveyed in the past month.  To put that into perspective, GM is the OAS of MLB and the NFL.  GM’s 2009 recognition levels for those two properties were 31.4% and 30.0%, respectively (SportsBusiness Journal, Feb. 15-21, 2010).  Additionally, a SBJ and Turnkey Intelligence poll conducted the week prior to this year’s Super Bowl, revealed 30.7% of Avid NFL Fans could correctly identify GM as the leagues OAS (SportsBusiness Journal, Mar. 1-7, 2010).  If I were to use a similar guideline to distinguish Avid MLS Fans – fans stating that their MLS team is their 1st or 2nd favorite professional sports team, and have attended 10 or more MLS matches in their life – Volkswagen would have a fan-recognition level of 61.4% (70/114).  It would be difficult to postulate that a MLS sponsorship is more effective than a sponsorship with MLB, NFL or NBA; however, with the statistics from my survey, we can begin to examine the merits of a MLS sponsorship. 

Here is a brief description of how I recruited survey participants:

202 Major League Soccer (MLS) fans were surveyed from March 10 – April 15th, 2010.   Respondents were recruited via the Facebook Fan pages of the: Los Angeles Galaxy; Houston Dynamo; Major League Soccer; New York Red Bulls; Real Salt Lake; and Seattle Sounders FC.  A small percentage of the 202 respondents were recruited through LinkedIn and Twitter.

Survey participants were active and engaged MLS fans: 69.3% had visited their MLS team’s Web site within 24 hours of taking the survey, 81.2% stated that they will definitely attend a MLS match in 2010, and 56.9% attended 5 or more matches during the 2009 season.  Furthermore, the survey required respondents to take two deliberate actions to participate.  First they had to become a Fan of a MLS team on FB, and then they had to click a link posted on the team’s FB Fan Page.   These fans actions indicate they will be more responsive to a sponsor’s message, and more likely to change their purchase behavior because of a sponsorship.  If a brand can establish a presence within MLS, its brand equity will increase because of the league’s status with the consumer. 

VW, like every other MLS sponsor I studied, is leveraging its MLS sponsorship to increase its brand image with Hispanics.  A noble and wise ambition.  Hispanics/Latinos represented one-quarter (50/202) of survey respondents, and VW has an established presence in Latin America that has not translated into sales with Hispanic-Americans.  However, VW’s recognition numbers decreased with Hispanics to 48% (every sponsor experienced a decrease in recognition with Hispanics).  Not a large decrease – VW was the sponsor with the highest recognition rate amongst Hispanics – but one that can, and should be improved upon. 

Hispanics were 41.3% more likely to “regularly consume/purchase a product if that product/service is an Official Sponsor of MLS” than White/Caucasians respondents (Whites/Caucasians represented 65% of survey participants).  Granted, sponsorships are not as effective in changing consumer behavior for large purchases such as cars – due to the likely involvement of another party – but this is a significant result.  If your goal is to change consumer behavior, you should target those who are willing/eager to embrace your brand.  Furthermore, opportunities exist for brands to establish themselves with the next generation of Hispanic consumers.

76% of respondents identifying themselves as Hispanic/Latino had at least one parent born outside of the United States.  The other 24% of Hispanic/Latino respondents were born outside of the United States.  Their offspring will grow up rooting for a MLS team, opposed to a team in Mexico’s First Division or another foreign league.  The next generation of Hispanic MLS soccer fans should be arriving shortly.  92% of Hispanic/Latino fans are under the age of 37, with 42% between the ages of 19-25 (note: this could be attributable to the survey being conducted on FB, but only 26% of Caucasian respondents were between the ages of 19-25).  

VW might be selling a lot more Jettas in 2030… Heck, you might be seeing more Tigans, Routans and CCs at your kids AYSO games.  

**** I am only using the SBJ numbers as a reference point.  It would be irresponsible to make a correlation between their numbers and mine.  Their methodology and respondents are too different.

Written by Peter Amador

April 21, 2010 at 6:18 PM

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