World Cup and Twitch Provide Great Glimpse to the Future

What: With World Cup over, it can be deemed an overall global success not just in soccer, but in sports business.
Why it matters: Brands were able to use social media to deliver messages more than ever, via nontraditional outlets like Twitch, a trend that will only increase.

The FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupis now in the rear view mirror, as soccer friendlies and several months of MLS (@MLSnow take center stage in North America, as global fans of “The Beautiful Game” await training and then the opening of the elite European leagues in the late summer.

The lessons learned from World Cup activation and engagement continue to grow. The effective implementation of social campaigns tied to the games were in record numbers, Spanish language broadcasts in the U.S. drew solid audiences despite the fact that the U.S. did not qualify for the event, and many of the elite Spanish language countries exited a little earlier than expected. Still the drama and life displayed by first timers like Peru and the continued growth and engagement of Mexico led to an even bigger bounce than what was expected making World Cup in Russia an overall global success not just in soccer, but in sports business.

...[B]rands that invested in social were able to find a new engagement platform, especially for digital first millennial consumers, that had not existed before.

credit: Soccer.ru

In the U.S., the change of leadership at the top of USA Soccer (@USASoccer), and the announcement that the 2026 Cup will be coming to North America has also given rise to even more hope that soccer as a property will still see its biggest days ahead.

With that forward looking idea comes one more look back at World Cup engagement, this time through an engagement platform becoming more and more prevalent as sports looks to be customized and digital first. Twitch (@Twitch ‏), the Amazon owned streaming service, has become a monster and go to platform for esports for several years, and now leagues like the NBA have looked to create more formal relationships as a custom screen experience for fans. The NBA G league (@nbagleagueexperimented with great success on Twitch last season, and more and more relationships will be coming, especially as Amazon itself continues its ramp up with broadcast rights for major sports leagues around the world.

Portada worked with Stream Hatchet (@StreamHatchet), one of the world’s elite digital measurement services, to look at Twitch and the World Cup, and how and if the official brands tied to World Cup actually gained share of voice across the channels created by fans on Twitch before and then during the World Cup. Given the fact that Twitch had no official relationship with FIFA, the share of voice for brands might be expected to be small. However what played out was actually interesting, as it shows that brands that invested in social were able to find a new engagement platform, especially for digital first millennial consumers, that had not existed before.

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courtesy Wanda

Who were the brands that won out over the thousands of Twitch channels and conversations created specifically around World Cup? There were five that entered conversations best: Wanda, Hyundai, Adidas, Visa and Coke, with the engagement and chatter about the brands on Twitch starting before the Games actually began, and then peaking as the semi-finals and finals came into view.

Given the savviness of Asian consumers around esports and the use of Twitch as a medium of choice, the success of engagement for brands like Wanda and Hyundai makes great sense. However to see global brands like Visa and Coke, and an apparel brand like Adidas be in conversations throughout the course of the Games opens a very unique window for future engagement. Keep in mind that little to no sponsorship dollars were spent in conjunction with Twitch, so all the engagement mentions and conversations, sometimes as large as 50,000, all game about in a generic and authentic form for the young consumers watching and talking about the World Cup on the platform.

It provides a great litmus test into the power of both a custom streaming channel, and a second screen experience not just for the World Cup, but for any sports event looking to engage and activate going forward. Now with such a massive spend by brands on traditional channels, will dollars suddenly flow to Twitch, or even other second screen streaming experiences like Facebook Live, that easily in the short term? No. However this snapshot (below) by Stream Hatchet and Portada shows that there is growing value that has been anecdotal, and now is quantifiable, as brands looks to engage new consumers on a platform they are comfortable on and more and more used to using.

While focus remains on big screen for now, the handheld, custom experience continues to make inroads, the proof, even in World Cup, is now there to see.

Cover image: Mahdi Zare/Fars News Agency

Joe Favorito @joefav

Joe Favorito has over 32 years of strategic communications/marketing, business development and public relations expertise in sports, entertainment, brand building, media training, television, athletic administration and business. The Brooklyn, New York native has managed the day-to- day activities in strategic communications for: Two of the world’s hallmark sports and entertainment brands (the New York Knickerbockers and Philadelphia 76ers), the world’s largest professional sport for women (the WTA Tour), the world’s largest sports National Governing Body (the United States Tennis Association) and the world’s largest annual sporting event (the US Open). He also oversaw the strategic planning, investor relations, communications and digital business development of the International Fight League during its two year run as a Mixed Martial Arts venture and a publicly traded company. Favorito serves on the boards of the Weinstein Carnegie Group, New York Sports Venture Capital, the National Sports Marketing Network, the Drexel University Sports Business program, and Columbia University’s Sports Management program (where he is an instructor in Strategic Communications and Director of Industry Relations). Joe also maintains a well trafficked blog on the sports marketing and publicity field, “Sports Marketing and PR Roundup,” on the website joefavorito.com, as well authoring the first- ever text on the sports publicity industry (“Sports Publicity” published in August 2007 by Reed Elsevier and updated in 2012 by Taylor Publishing with a third printing coming in 2018), which is used in over 60 sports management programs in the U.S. He has been a guest speaker on sports marketing, social media and communications at a host of institutions, including Princeton University, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, the University of Florida Law School, New York University, the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and many others. He is also a frequent spokesperson on the industry for publications ranging from Ad Age and The New York Times to NPR and CBS News. A graduate of Fordham University, Joe, his wife and two children reside in River Vale, New Jersey.

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