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The Professional Football League (LFP) announced last week to launch its channel on the Twitch platform. A strategy “of rejuvenation of its fans” on the digital in which many clubs and players have already ventured.

Everyone now wants to be on Twitch. Gamers of course… but also YouTubers, the media, politicians and, now, the world of football. In a press release published on Wednesday April 7, the Professional Football League (LFP) proudly announced that Ligue 1 now has its channel on the live broadcasting platform.

“By launching its Twitch channel, Ligue 1 Uber Eats is pursuing its strategy of engaging and rejuvenating its fans on digital,” explains the football league.

>> To read also: “Twitch, the platform which is becoming trendy among politicians”

The “where to be” platform

Capturing the attention of young audiences has become a constant concern of football governing bodies since several recent studies, such as that of the European Club Association (ECA), have highlighted the lack of interest in “Generation Z” football. “(born between 1996 and 2012). “A problem”, emphasized Gerard Piqué, defender of FC Barcelona but also a businessman in sports events, because “this audience is the key to the future of our sport”.

The Amazon platform, which attracts young people keen on digital tools, is an Eldorado to reach these young refractory: “It is a platform on which ‘you have to be’ to establish your notoriety, especially among young men from 15 to 30 years old “, analyzes Jean-Pascal Gayant, professor of economics at the University of Le Mans, interviewed by France 24.” You have to make yourself known and ‘loved’ by future consumers of Ligue 1. The objective is clear: to bring to the spectacle of Ligue 1 consumers who are increasingly zapping and whose attachment to the team of a territory is no longer systematic. attractive, not by the intrinsic quality of the game played, but by its belonging to an environment of permanent buzz. “

Adapted content?

Bought by Amazon for $ 970 million in 2014, Twitch was originally a platform primarily intended for streaming video game games. The spectators notably have at their disposal a chat to interact directly with the broadcaster, which explains why the public sees itself as a “community”.

A community which, moreover, can adapt badly to newcomers. The arrival of the BFMTV channel on the platform has thus given rise to an avalanche of sexist trolls. Aware of the danger, the LFP claims to have worked “in collaboration with specialized actors familiar with the codes of Twitch”.

For a smooth launch, the LFP intends initially to stay in the fundamentals of the platform: video game competitions.

“Fans will be able to follow all the news of the official French eChampionship on EA SPORTS FIFA 21 and its matches via 19 live broadcasts of 2 hours animated by Quento and TPK (two stars of the platform, Editor’s note)”, assures the press release .

The League also wants to set up two programs devoted to “real” football. A first program should return “in an original and entertaining way” to the news of Ligue 1. Rivenzi, known face of Twitch, will be the host. The second program, “Ligue 1 Legends”, should be based on the archives of the French championship and be hosted by Alex de Castro, a regular journalist on the platform. The LFP did not give specific launch dates.

Can this strategy of betting on regulars of the Twitch format pay off? “Yes, with those who are spontaneously ‘subjugated’ by the people in question”, judge Jean-Pascal Gayant. “Twitch’s problem is the relative emptiness of content. Even the most hardened ‘geeks’ can get bored …”

The big clubs already on the spot

The League is not alone in taking an interest in Twitch, the clubs got into it before it. Olympique de Marseille broadcast two of its friendly matches there in the summer of 2020. An immediate success since they are the only non-gaming programs to have entered the top 100 of the 2020 audiences recorded on the platform: 266,000 “viewers” unique, with a peak of 100,000 simultaneous “viewers”, according to the club.

“A study had shown us that football content was increasingly popular on this platform,” explains Hervé Philippe, OM media manager, in Ouest-France. “Twitch is centered on live and interaction. And curiously, we notice that the audience watches fairly long content, while elsewhere, it is short content that works, as on TikTok for example. We decided to ‘go there because we keep the objective of targeting a young and connected audience. “

On the strength of this first experience, OM has secured a paid partnership – the sums of which remain secret – with the platform and has set up a schedule of programs to make the most of the new channel: it broadcasts its press conferences there, training sessions, official events or even the matches of its youth and women’s teams, as well as its flagship program, the “Live Talk”, live commentaries of matches without images but with interaction with the public. A strategy that enabled it to cross the 100,000 follower mark at the beginning of April.

The great Parisian rival, who also has a partnership with the platform, has adopted a similar approach while relying on established digital personalities such as Arsène “AF5” Froon and Vincent “Vinsky” Maduro to embody the channel at next to the former star house Laure Boulleau, in a relaxed atmosphere that perfectly reflects the codes of Twitch.

Players close to their fans

Individually, the players also got involved. Neymar is thus a regular at the night stream of his video game games. A habit that has earned him criticism when some people make the link between this way of life and his repeated injuries.

During the first confinement, Antoine Griezmann had thus embarked on a 24-hour charity direct to raise funds for the Red Cross. His followers were invited to give while Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembélé or the Marseille rapper Jul indulged in games as diverse as Fortnite, Football Manager or Counter-Strike.

Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero has meanwhile become a phenomenon with 3 million subscribers. Here again, the video game is the starting point but the Argentinian takes the opportunity to comment on his games, discuss with his fans, or even call Lionel Messi live in a conversation that has become cult.

No official matches immediately

The fact remains that for the moment, the creators of content on Twitch are talking about football without having the sinews of war: the images of matches, the broadcasting rights of which are sold at a high price by the various leagues.

However, Jeff Bezos and Twitch’s parent company Amazon are increasingly interested in TV rights to sports broadcasts. Proof of this is the low hand made on part of the broadcast of Roland-Garros, the application of which will broadcast ten night sessions. Four matches at the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season were also broadcast on the platform. And during the imbrioglio between the LFP, Mediapro and Canal + around rights, the firm took good care to submit an application for broadcasting to the call for tenders, far from the reserve price however.

“There may be a conflict between traditional broadcasters, on the one hand, and specialty platforms and Twitch, on the other hand. I would be a broadcaster who paid dearly for broadcast rights, I wouldn’t accept that. a platform like Twitch could be granted the right to broadcast matches. In short, there would need to be a specific allotment and there, the amounts to be committed to Twitch would be of another scale… “, analyzes Jean-Pascal Gayant.

“Today, we believe that we can grow in sport with our communities and the content currently offered, without purchasing broadcasting rights,” said Farhan Ahmed, head of Twitch partnerships, in L’Équipe.

A strategy that can always evolve and which would also be a great way to close the loop since the platform was originally part of the Justin.tv site which, among other things, was used to illegally broadcast live matches.

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