What a week. There’s now 3.6bn mobile internet users worldwide, according to eggheads at the annual gathering of mobile digital in Catalonia #MWC.
I traded Barcelona for Hollywood this year to cover a data story on the Oscars 2019 which my brilliant Mediacells colleagues have transcended into a stunning visual narrative.
Cadillac lit the touchpaper with just one post alerting fans to their sponsored Oscars hashtag #KeepRising live from the red carpet but it was Rolex whose timely video post, starring Oscar-winning directors James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and Kathryn Bigelow that made the greatest impact on native Facebook audiences. Have a play, fast forward to 24 Feb 1500hrs (CET) to see the Rolex social-whack.
There are lots of predictions at this time of year, particularly in digital circles.
Google is predicting that users will spend more time watching online video in 2019 than in front of the television. Is this a surprise to anybody?
Mediacells anticipates pioneering media experiences, like Netflix Original’s format-subverting Bandersnatch, will transform traditional viewing habits by refusing to broadcast content on outmoded devices, like TVs.
Television will, of course, be part of the media mix but the seamless eye-swap between big and small screens will be less remarkable.
At the time of going to press, a photo of an egg has been liked by 42 million Instagram users and the account, world_record_egg is now followed by 6 million people.
Instead of a Black Mirror plotline, this is the first big audience news story of 2019. A record-beating egg. On Instagram. It’s mindless, something of the Boaty McBoatface about the whole craze around this post – but it’s somehow meaningful to social media custodians and natives.
So in terms of predicting any forthcoming media behaviours this year, we’ll leave that to the egg-sperts, while we continue to deliver valued insights to the sports and entertainment industries so they can evolve with the complex media needs of 2019 audiences.
By BRAD REES
Is football breakable? That’s the question writer Janan Ganesh eloquently answered in a recent thinkpiece for the Financial Times.
On the surface football is in rude health. Mr Ganesh gives the example of how obtainable a European ‘soccer’ game now is in the USA, ‘even Atlanta, down in gridiron country, has become round-ball barmy’.
Mediacells first saw the USA superfan phenomenon back in 2014, when the USA rocked the World Cup in Brazil. By the time they were kicked out in the Round of 16 by Belgium, they had earned immense respect for their contribution which was rewarded by 42 million USA engaged fans over the tournament.
Der Spiegel recently revealed the European super-clubs’ aspiration to form their very own competition, which would free them from domesticity altogether. Mr Ganesh frames this vision for the hard of foreseeing as follows:
‘In other words, Real Madrid would no longer play Valencia or Seville, just its fellow colossi (Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Arsenal).’
It’s an unsettling dystopia to think of a football life without ‘real fans’. In David Goldblatt’s best-selling book The Game of Our Lives, there is a chapter dedicated to the matchday experience where he suggests ‘until the broadcaster can perfect a digitally enhanced crowd, there is no spectacle without them (the real crowd)’
The real crowd was absent from the October UEFA Nations League group stage match between Croatia and England, where the game was played behind closed doors – no physical crowd, only an unimpressed ‘digitally-enhanced’ one.
Evocative reporting from BBC Radio 5 live’s Gary Flintoff summed the atmosphere up as follows: “England manager Gareth Southgate has just applauded his players and you could hear the sound of his hands clapping together echo right throughout the stadium.”
But is football invincible and if so, who would take O Jogo Bonito’s place? Mr Ganesh surmises cricket, which is an intuitive punt but 2018 data from Nielsen doesn’t place cricket in the top five of Major Sports but that’s maybe because ‘urban’ is the only India sample.
The emerging contender to football’s gilded crown is basketball, which commands 35% of major sports interest in 18 markets. Further research from Mediacells reveals that NBA player and team accounts exceed 1 billion likes and followers. That’s a whole lot of hoops.
On balance, I think Mr Ganesh and I agree that football will not break. The commercial sports landscape has never been so competitive with live and on-demand streaming services, often referred to as the ‘Netflix of Sport’ moving football closer to media and entertainment audiences.
However, the welcome complacency that the real fan is somehow indispensable is dangerous. If we’re watching footie that kicks off in a physical location then the crowd is surely crucial. But, if the audience is never at the physical game, because the game is not in a physical arena – what happens then?
The global eSports audience will reach 380 million this year with a 50% growth in sponsorship revenue streams – perhaps the question is not if football is breakable but if football is physical.
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