How has branded content changed the sponsorship landscape in soccer? 

The content request is dramatically changing the scenario of sponsorship because seven or eight years ago there was a pure demand for awareness, IP rights and PR, but now it’s mainly around content and stories.

The bigger the companies, the greater their demand is for new content in order to create new stories because buying media is becoming easier, but it’s more difficult to get access to unique stories and unique content.

That’s why specifically on this topic football properties, football clubs, rights-holders are winning, because they’re able to offer unique and engaging content to fans.  

When did the trend for branded content start?

With the trend of so-called cord-cutting, there has been a shift from linear broadcasting to different platforms to watch content with media and technology such as mobile.

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It’s something that’s still changing, but it started in a very strong way at least five years ago and is changing the way rights-holders propose content to their fans and to the companies that are investing in sponsorship and partnership agreements.

Everything that’s on demand changed the culture that was previously around the live match. The live match is important but it’s not always so important compared to the past.

There’s a huge fragmentation of the audience and the ways of consuming the content so that’s why this is a big opportunity. The more the demand is high, the more the different sources of fruition of the content are high, and the more you have opportunities to deliver dedicated content to the different audiences. 

The opportunities are in creating new, engaging and authentic stories around football

What new opportunities has it created?

The opportunities are in creating new, engaging and authentic stories around football because it’s key and important for clubs to keep authenticity of their branded stories and to work on the engagement by preserving the values and the authenticity of the club and the brand.

Why should a club follow the trend?

That’s something that’s going in parallel with the digital revolution and the revolution of the fragmentation of the audience so in my view there’s a simple need to adapt your proposition to what the market is offering now.

In the past the club didn’t have the opportunity to speak about itself apart from the live game or something strictly related to the live game, but now there are so many opportunities so it’s a normal evolution of what is a simple trend of change within the technology environment.

Has it helped to attract new sponsors?

It’s not only a matter of attracting new sponsors, which is always a goal of sports properties, but it’s really the new way of proposing sponsorship.

More companies when they approach renewals for their agreements or those proposing new agreements are asking for a review of the traditional approach so they’re able to give you traditional visibility assets such as media assets and exposure in order to get back content from clubs so that’s the new trend.

On one hand it’s about creating new opportunities and on the other hand it’s to be in line with the current requests of the market.

Giorgio Ricci was speaking to Sportcal reporter Tariq Saleh at the Dugout Commercial and Content Symposium