Record numbers for Football League on fixture release day

Fixture release day has been a day of immense excitement for many years with fans. Seeing where they are heading to on the opening day of the new season. Is it a local derby? Are they home or away?

Nowadays it is a big event not only for fans but also the media and governing body as websites and social become the go-to places for information. Last year we covered the then record number of fans who went on club/Football League properties to get their fix.

I say “then record”, as this year has once again surpassed the previous – keeping up the run of year-on-year increases for the league. The planning they put in enabled the release of the fixtures to everyone at the same time to go ahead with no issues. And audiences peaked at 9.05am with 80,333 users on the site at the same time.

Some of the stats include;

  • 1,383,530 unique users visited the sites
  • Viewing 2,969,279 pages
  • That’s a 38% growth in users year on year and an 88% growth over the last 2 years
  • And a 23% growth in page views year on year and a 116% growth over the last 2 years

So what happened this year that enabled the growth of this scale? According to the Football League’s Director (Content) Russell Scott it was four-fold;

1)      The SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) work that was done last year to ensure the websites return more often and higher in google search returns

2)      The new mobile platform, delivering a significantly improved user experience and improving the ranking in Google search – which now rewards mobile specific pages

3)      A significant increase in the volume and engaging nature of content produced by clubs.
For example – articles published between 8am and 6pm in 2013 = 1,257, 2014 = 2,527 and 2015 = 3,214. This was a critical factor, not just because of the increase in volume of content but also because it was spread across the day giving fans a reason to keep coming back so see how the story has developed

4)      Use of social media to drive fans to owned channels. This was a more subtle but commercially valuable change, more and more clubs are recognising that social channels offer huge opportunity to engage a wider audience and that using this to drive them to the club site makes it much easier to get real tangible value from them, selling them season tickets, this year’s kit or even just increasing exposure to club sponsors.

The Football League also went heavy on images for their social feeds. A great way in which to engage with fans and provide them something helpful and provides more information than you can glean from 140 characters. It’s a lessen learned from brands such as adidas during the World Cup that planning for these moments with images/videos ahead of time allows you to engage much better with fans.

Russell summed it up on the FL website recently, saying;

“More strategic use of social media to FLi channels coupled with an increased volume of content from clubs were two significant reasons digital records broken on fixture release day. We saw 3,214 items and 883 new articles published throughout the day giving fans reasons to come back and revisit club sites.”
“Similarly, Search Engine Optimisation improvements coupled with a new mobile platform introduced by FLi have significantly improved our club rankings in Google search returns.
“Once again, fixtures release day has proved to be the biggest day of the year for club websites and I’m delighted that the network has performed well.”

Well played Russell, Rhys, Bob and the rest of the team down there. Now there’s just the small matter of a season of football coming up next!


About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 820 posts

Dan is the Founder & CEO of Digital Sport. Can be found at sports industry events and heard every week on the Digital Sport Insider podcast. @DanielMcLaren

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