Real Madrid's decision to take its TV channel to Facebook Live could be a sign of things to come

Real Madrid's use of Facebook Live for its TV channel content has helped it reach a wider audience

Real Madrid has generated more than 110 million video views on social after taking the decision to begin delivering content from its club TV channel to Facebook Live.

The La Liga club partnered with Grabyo, the cloud-based video platform for live media rights holders and TV networks, ahead of last season’s Uefa champions league final as they looked to move Real Madrid TV beyond the linearity of traditional broadcast channels.

Since then the Spanish club has taken its broadcast channel live 128 times on Facebook which has generated 110 million video views and culminated in the content appearing in social feeds more than a billion times.

The content being delivered includes behind the scenes footage, news and shoulder programming and each live video has generated around 3 million views.

At a time when football clubs are attempting to reach a global fan base across a multitude of platforms the reach available through traditional satellite and cable operators is increasingly looking less attractive due to the prominence of cable cutting and the regional restrictions posed by pay TV models.

Real Madrid’s decision to put content from its TV channel on Facebook has not just allowed them to reach a wider audience on social but has highlighted the potential of OTT content. The move follows on from La Liga experimenting with live streaming games as a means of upping competition with the Premier League and will likely be an increasing common trend as Europe's top clubs attempt to strengthen their revenue streams abroad.

Gareth Capon, chief executive of Grabyo, talked to The Drum about the results which he said showed that habits in which sports fans consume unique content from football clubs has shifted.

“These results show us that the demand for professionally produced, exclusive, behind the scenes content for football clubs has not diminished. It’s just that the way we want to consume it has changed,” said Capon.

“One of the key challenges for the clubs has been that these linear TV channels were rarely "live", offering a range of on-demand content packaged as TV shows throughout the day. The channels also lacked the most valuable content for the fans - live games from the Premier League, Serie A or the UEFA Champions League. More importantly, football fans are now increasingly spending their time on social platforms.”

Grabyo has capitalised on this shift in viewing habits by working with sports rights holders to offer expertise in delivering this content including branded content monetisation and multi-platform distribution.

Capon maintains that monetisation on Facebook Live is “only just beginning with Facebook Branded Content” and will develop as Facebook test in-stream advertising for a limited number of partners in the US.

“The Real Madrid TV project shows there is considerable reach which will open up fascinating opportunities for adveritisng and sponsorship - when you consider the targeting and the localisation of advertising in regional markets that will be possible on Facebook it becomes very interesting indeed.”

One interesting aspect of this advertising potential is the data yielded from the audience viewing the streams.

Capon points out that the engagement data from the fans via Facebook Live “is a great signal to which bits of content are the most compelling to the audience”. To build on this Grabyo says Capon is working on new products to provide deeper insights for partners and to use Facebook data to identify the most engaging content within a live broadcast.

Looking ahead to how social media platforms might impact on TV networks ability to continue purchasing broadcast rights deals Capon asserts that while Twitter has acquired the broadcast rights to live NFL games, TV networks have a more mature business model and a stronger capability to generate a return.

“But as OTT becomes the dominant platform for TV distribution then the likelihood of digital businesses investing directly in rights will increase - creating greater competition for TV networks and broadcasters.”

Tony Connelly

I cover media, marketing and sponsorship news within the sports industry. This includes breaking news as well as writing feature pieces with insights from experts in the sports marketing world.

All by Tony