29 May 2016

Prepare to be thunderstruck by the 2016 Champions League final

By Brad Rees

As the Atlético Madrid team bus rocks up to the San Siro stadium on Saturday, the Blaupunckt stereo system will be blasting out ‘Thunderstruck’ by Ozzie MetalGods, AC/DC. It’s an Atléti tradition. Torres and chums will be chanting, ‘Thunder, thunder, thunder, thunder, I was caught in the middle of a railroad track.’

How can we not root for them to win this weekend’s compelling ‘El Derby’ – the global game of football that will whet our Euro 2016 appetite?

Last week, I wrote about the swelling social TV audience of reality show, Geordie Shore - which boasts 40 million fans who crave their weekly TV fix by hyper-posting and possibly -ventillating on social media in between shows.

Reality drama TV format salesmen take note; your pitch is compelling but in a dwarf-throwing Wolf of Wall Street kind of way, compared to the power of global sport.

Our appetite for the most-watched sport on the planet is incredible. The 2014 FIFA World Cup reached 3.2 billion TV viewers with 1 in every three of them using a second screen at some point throughout the global stadium experience.

The ‘average’ UK sports fan spends 7hr 24min following sport in a typical week, compared to 5hr 24min on social media, 5hr 12min doing housework or 4hr 30 min exercising.

Of course, the above ESPN research doesn’t cross-correlate the usage habits of Hyde Park ‘bankers’ who push their kid-laden Land Rover buggies around the Serpentine, while simultaneously running the labradoodle alongside, simulcasting fitbit data and Chelsea scores to Facebook and Twitter.

If you dig deeper into the consumption habits of sports fans down to device level 9 out of ten fans depend on their iPhone to follow sports news, while 7 out of every ten punters use an iPad.

Unsurprisingly, for the ink-stained hacks among us, see Mediacells correct New Day predictions, 23% of sports fans read a newspaper on a daily basis, which still seems high to me, unless you classify free rags like the Metro in this category, then it would seem low.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s Champions League matchday will keep it real, being watched in over 200 territories with 77% of us watching the TV with some second screen digital accoutrement like a laptop, tablet or smart thing.

And according to Google, there’s a frenetic amount of searching that goes on during matches, as social fans try and outsmart or countersmart their fellow amateur stattos, with 63% of them researching on a mobile phone. Again this seems low.

This is the opportunity Atlético Madrid have been waiting for since 2014, when they suffered a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

If they do manage to nick it, who is to say that all those fairweather LATAM fans won’t change their allegiances overnight to the non-Real La Finca residents?

The Latin American digital landscape is rapidly expanding with Mexico, Chile, Peru, Argentina and Colombia leading the trend.

This would allow the club to shrug off the “El Pupas” curse (the jinxed ones) and miracle-working manager, Diego ‘El Cholo’ Simeone will be able to deliver some massive and scaleable eyeballs (I know that sounds very wrong) to his chief executive, Miguel Gil.

Incidentally, Señor Gil categorically doesn’t attend Atlético games, at least that’s what he told Simon Kuper the FT in late 2015:

“I watch the day after on TV. It’s the best way to check the decisions of the coach, when your heart is quiet”.

Six months is a long time in football and an even longer time in digital – so although the betting odds are stacked against his team winning the Cup, I reckon there’s shorter odds on him dipping into the Club Atlético app for updates.