1 Jan 2019

Will football always be the #1 global sport?


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.

USA Superfan phenomenon: FIFA World Cup 2014

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.

top sports nielsen 400x420

Source: Nielsen Sports DNA 2018

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.


25 Sep 2018

Are you enlightened?

Rockstar Digital Analysts Requiredcoral_graph7

You will perform, what we call, Enlightened Analytics, using the science of analysis with the tradition of storytelling to inform clients of how successful they are in connecting to target customers.

Your goal is to transform, curate, model, visualise the performance of our Global and European sports clients and support a compelling story around their audiences.

You will have a results-focused mindset, used to developing analytical models that reveal behaviours to global clients.

Lead regular client report streams, constantly optimising the relevance of the insights to target audiences.
Provide reporting and management insights that can be used in internal and external client communications.
Manage the development of visualisation and reporting tools that provide daily support for content owners and business stakeholders.

Clear technical understanding of the digital media landscape, its web and social technologies and frameworks.
Ability to interpret complex data models and communicate them to non-research audiences.
Strong interpersonal skills and a proven ability to perform well in disparate, diverse corporate cultures.
Be an instinctive project manager who always demonstrates strong analytical and organisational skills.
Ability to work under pressure, with tight deadlines in a fast-paced and dynamic environment.

Relevant university degree or equivalent
5+ years of experience in digital technologies
Advanced Microsoft Office skills particularly in Excel, Visual Basic and Power BI packages
Willingness to travel, as required.

You love sport, especially football.
Experience in advising senior management on strategic topics within the communications and digital communications field.
Developer capabilities / interests related to data science i.e. source data using APIs, SQL and database languages.
Ability to visualise data models, using cutting edge web tools such as Javascript libraries like D3.js for manipulating documents based on data as well as mainstream open source data visualisation tools like Tableau, Alteryx, Palladio, Datawrapper and many more.
Web dashboard development skills
Understanding of media planning schedules and inventory analysis, SEO practices, reporting and familiarity with SEO tools

This is a full-time role and the right candidate will be remunerated commensurate with their experience and abilities.

If this sounds like you, contact us and tell us why you are the expert we need for our clients.

16 Mar 2018


Social audiences are influenced by authentic posts that make them feel an affinity with the author.

Mediacells can reveal that social media folk respond less to celebrity endorsements and more to meaningful recommendations made by trusted commentators who make them feel special.

campaign detail 02



We analysed the latest adidas influencer campaign and awarded a lesser-known volleyball player the highest engagement rate, blocking fellow campaign influencers Lionel Messi, David Beckham and Paul Pogba from the top spot.

Mediacells identified 100+ million social views across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in the context of the adidas social influencer video campaign ‘Calling All Creators’.

The multi-layered story drew on stars from sport, fashion and music to inspire a creative dialogue in 33 countries, using curated video content across social, TV and adidas.com.

Influencer 18Source: Mediacells

The #1 influencer was a US female volleyball star, called Paige Tapp, who inspired 17% of her social audience to share, like or mention the specific campaign in tweets and posts.

Paige, 22, was most effective on Instagram, where her ‘seat at the table’ post won 7.6k ‘loves’. The reactions to the post were deeply personal, with family and friends showing their support, which in turn created a groundswell of positive sentiment around the Team USA middle blocker’s brand messages.

The closest influencer to Paige was Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, who inspired 7% of his audience to join the conversation, while NFL superstar Aaron Rodgers prompting 5% of his fan base to engage in meaningful interactions about the campaign.

From outside the world of sport, rapper Pusha T converted 4% of his social audience to ‘create’ with his ‘Three Stripe Life’ tweets.

The findings come as influencer marketing is becoming the advertising saviour, at a time when the world’s largest advertising and marketing services group, WPP, announced its worst year since 2009.

Brand conversion is becoming less and less about big numbers and more about attributable, authentic conversions from loyal fan bases. Instagram fan Brooke Schwartz responded to Paige Tapp’s endorsement of adidas sneakers thus,

 “I have been a Nike girl for 26 years and yesterday I bought my first pair of Adidas because of you.”

6 Dec 2017

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19 May 2016

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Can digital longform content talk to the Buzzfeed generation when under the social media influence?

By Brad Rees Last week I realised the true value of being a follower when I discovered an amazing story by Hillsborough survivor, Adrian Tempany, after it was promoted in a tweet by sportswriter David Conn.  It was 5,000 words long, which meant a lot of iPhone thumbscrolls on a Sunday afternoon when I should have been helping […]