Everton underline commitment to fans with Facebook and YouTube streams

Everton, according to Facebook, are “one of the Premier League’s most recognizable teams, being part of every season since the league’s inception in 1992.”

That’s true, but it barely breaks the surface of the club’s pedigree in English football. Since the Football League began in 1888, Everton have played in the top division in all but four seasons. No other team in England can match that staying power, and only Arsenal have a longer unbroken spell in the top flight, although the Gunners have played fewer seasons in the top division.

So it’s no surprise that the social media platform is thrilled to showcase the Toffees’ impressive numbers achieved by streaming a pre-season friendly on Facebook Live. Nearly 1.7m viewers tuned in at some point to watch the game, it garnered over 16k reactions to the post, and it was shown worldwide, with the UK, USA, Thailand, Spain and Singapore the top five areas for viewers. Not bad for a friendly. They also made use of the Schedule Live function, which allows fans to sign up to receive a notification when the live video is about to start, ensuring no one misses out due to bad timing. The schedule was also shared on the club’s official page, as well as Wayne Rooney’s page, and the former Manchester United captain’s Facebook reach was presumably invaluable.

Still, it was a good choice of game: as pre-season friendlies go, this was about as interesting as they come. It was Everton at home to Spanish giants Sevilla, who recently won three Europa League titles in a row and looked for the first half of last season like they might push Real Madrid and Barcelona all the way for the La Liga crown. It was also a game that showcased returning legend Wayne Rooney in front of the Goodison Park crowd before the season started in earnest. Perhaps most importantly, though, Everton were gearing up for Europa League action of their own, having to play two early qualifying rounds before the month of August was out in order to reach the group stages next month, and so their fans were eager to see just how ready the team was for its task.

Everton have had a pleasing start to the season, and on Thursday night, they’ll face Hajduk Split in the second leg of the play-off round, so just one more hurdle to overcome.

That second leg will be shown on ITV 4 in the UK, but the first leg wasn’t picked up by a UK TV broadcaster, and so the Merseyside club decided to stream that game on YouTube, testing out another platform and getting success – this time with almost 800,000 views.

It shows the draw of live sport, even in games which don’t seem to matter to most people who aren’t Everton fans. The friendly was just a friendly after all, but even the Europa League play-off isn’t the sort of game that usually draws a big crowd. That’s obviously a strategy Facebook have been pursuing of late. But it also shows Everton’s commitment to using Facebook Live to engage fans. They won’t be able to repeat these live-streams over the season, of course, but taking the opportunity when it’s available is useful for boosting engagement and expanding reach into new territories, and the season will offer plenty of chances for other types of content.

“Broadcasting this friendly fixture was a natural extension of the content we have been providing to Blues fans over the past 12 months. Facebook Live has proved to be the perfect platform for us to share pre and post-match interviews, manager press conferences, training footage, and behind-the-scenes content with fans,” Scott McLeod, Head of Engagement, Everton told Facebook, speaking about the Sevilla friendly.

“The feedback we’ve had has been excellent and we look forward to sharing more Everton moments and, where possible, matches in the future.”

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 480 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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