Digital Disruption and the return of football – the Weekly Wrap

Summer is always a busy time for sport. So many iconic tournaments which have been an entire year in the making – or more, in the case of the Lions Tour – come to our screens, both big and small over a short period of time.

But no matter where you go on digital media, football tends to be the dominant sport – even when there are no actual football games to speak of. The transfer window gave clubs the chance to be innovative and cringeworthy in equal measure on social media, as they attempted to keep their digital presence relevant and engage their fans over the off-season.

This weekend, though, football returned. And that means both clubs and the media are going to get innovative.

EFL’s iFollow to be a success

The English season’s return was heralded by the return of the English Football League, which this weekend had the chance to debut their new iFollow service, which allows fans of Football League clubs the chance to watch all of their teams live games this season, even if they’re not on TV – so long as they don’t live in the UK.

The first game of the season is always a big draw, but it seems like the new platform is off to a good start, with fans from all over the world following the fortunes of England’s lower league teams – surely no other lower league system in the world can claim that?

Digital Disruption

The EFL aren’t the only innovators, though. The world of sports media is also shaking things up on digital. The domination of print media may seem like a memory of a long gone era by now, but even the bastions of sports publishing who have ruled the sector for years are starting to feel the heat from start-ups native to the internet.

The Guardian’s Football Weekly is the most listened-to football podcast available, but having lost some of their biggest talent – most notably presenter James Richardson – to The Totally Football Show, which starts next week, it might have some competition very soon.

More interesting, though, is how this will disrupt the current podcast market which is already looking fairly saturated. After the success of Second Captains and The Spanish Football Podcast in using Patreon to drive subscriptions, The Totally Football Show has announced it will be free at the point of use to its subscribers. How they monetise their product might be the most interesting part of their venture.

Losing more than just a player

Podcasts and publishers aren’t the only ones disrupting and suffering on digital, though. Clubs themselves are prone to similar problems. When Javier Hernandez moved from Bayer Leverkusen to West Ham United, the German club lost followers and the English one gained some. Clearly fans of the Mexican striker are the driver, but Result Sports told us about this increasingly common and potentially important development, which could have long-term impacts on how sports teams develop in new markets.

New kids on the block

Broadcasters aren’t immune to such disruption either, and just weeks after Sky Sports rejigged their output methods and subscription fees, they’ve lost a sport to a live-streaming new boy, this time Amazon Prime. This time it’s the ATP tennis tour which is making its way to the retail giant turned purveyor of everything, in a move which continues the trend of streaming services picking up as much live sport as they possibly can.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 232 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and a regular contributor to Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan91

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