Why BT Sport is showing the Champions League final on YouTube

Following its acquisition of the rights to show Champions League football, BT Sport has been working to establish itself as the major rival to Sky. 

Mike Norrish, Executive Producer, explained to Christopher Ratcliff, Editor of SEW, at our Shift London event why BT Sport has decided to stream the big final for free on Youtube.

It was a challenging year for BT Sport as it entered a highly competitive market by securing the broadcasting of UEFA’s Champions League games, targeting football fans in UK.

The decision to stream the final game in YouTube free of charge was a surprise for many football fans, with BT Sport considering a big opportunity.

According to Mike Norrish, streaming the big final for free becomes a unique opportunity for customer acquisition.

As Mike explained, the YouTube audience for the final will be:

  1. Football fans
  2. UK residents
  3. Non-subscribers to BT Sport

Why is this audience important for BT Sport?

Relevance is critical in this case and the target audience fits perfectly to the prospect audience of BT Sport for the next years.

Mike Norrish mentioned that BT Sport is planning to use the data that will be provided by the streaming on Youtube, while there will also be tailored content and offers for this audience, hoping to turn them into customers in the future.

Mike Norrish on how BT Sport aims for customer acquisition with the Champions League final

Moreover, it’s not just about increasing the prospective customers, but also about increasing the audience that BT Sport is reaching, taking advantage of a big moment, a free event, to get people involved and fulfil its promise of giving the sport back to the fans.

Thus, it’s a win-win situation that is valuable from a brand’s point of view, as it manages to:

  • Break down the idea of (high pay) wall-garden
  • Be part of the digital conversation
  • Use social media effectively

Why post content on social media?

Mike Norrish on how BT Sport aims for customer acquisition with the Champions League final

BT Sport offered free real-time clips on its various social channels during the season, which helped to increase awareness of the product. 

Posting content on social media allowed BT Sport to:

  1. Create buzz
  2. Provide entertaining content
  3. Increase engagement

However, it wasn’t an easy process to decide on the right content that will be provided for free, as it wasn’t just about posting a goal, but rather about understanding the type of content that would work better on social media and lead to virality in just a few seconds.

This had a huge impact on its engagement, with Twitter being among its favorite choices for real-time engagement, while there’s also a strong social presence among many popular social networks.

The challenge of measurement

Mike Norrish mentioned that digital measurement is a key area for BT Sport, as it allows them to keep track of their progress, although it is challenging to have different set goals, depending on the timing.

At first, the measurement focused on increasing awareness, engagement, but also the association between BT Sport and Champions League coverage. 

During a match the most important goal is to maintain and increase the engagement while trying to get football fans involved with the content.

After the match there’s the challenge of maintaining the earned engagement and turn the audience into long-term fans.

For Mike Norrish, Every measurement has its own challenges when it comes to social ROI, but brand building has been the most difficult to measure up to now.

Key takeaways

BT Sport has learned many lessons during the past year. As Mike summarised:

  • Focus on the platforms themselves.
  • Don’t ignore data.
  • Experiment with different types of content.
  • Spend the right time creating content (and understand that you might need the right people for each platform).
  • Keep learning.

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