The BBC and ITV invest heavily in big-name pundits for the Euros to help pull in viewers

In the battle for social media supremacy, which team will create the most conversation, engagement and opportunity to drive interest in the live broadcasts? Analysis from Nielsen Sports shows that it’s the BBC team who come out on top.

  • BBC presenters and pundits cumulative social following is 70.1m vs. 19.7m for the ITV line-up (across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
  • The top three names with most followers are all on team BBC: Cesc Fabregas (30.2m total followers), Rio Ferdinand (23.6m) and Gary Lineker (9.2m)
  • Combined total engagements generated by BBC pundits in 2021 were 33m vs. 18m for ITV across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

With wall-to-wall coverage across the BBC and ITV over the next month, football fans up and down the country are ready to sit back, relax and enjoy all of the action as the delayed Euro 2020 finally gets under way.

The two broadcasting powers have assembled a host of stellar names to dissect all of the action on the pitch. From Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, to headline names Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Cesc Fabregas, the BBC have plenty of firepower for this summer’s tournament. Over at ITV, Mark Pougatch will lead the presenting team alongside the likes of Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Patrick Vieira, who will be providing their off-pitch analysis.

There is no doubt that the big-name line-ups will help attract viewers, but how will the social followings of the assembled pundits and presenters impact the reach of each broadcasters’ coverage?

Nielsen Sports, the global leader in sports industry analytics, has used its social analytics tool to delve into the numbers – across six different metrics – to see how the broadcasters compare, and the results reveal that the BBC line-up comes out on top in four of the categories.

Firstly, looking at reach, the Nielsen analysis shows that the BBC pundits’ combined social following is 70.1m followers vs. 19.7m for ITV pundits (across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). The data also shows that the top three pundits with the most followers are all on team BBC: Cesc Fabregas (30.2m total followers), Rio Ferdinand (23.6m) and Gary Lineker (9.2m).

In terms of the volume of posts, it’s the BBC who once again come out on top. The data shows that BBC punditshave been more active on social media, with 5,029 posts in 2021 vs. 4,085 for ITV pundits across the same three platforms.

The analysis also reveals that BBC pundits have generated 33m engagements in 2021 across their respective social accounts vs. 18m for ITV pundits across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

However, when it comes to engagement rates, it was the ITV punditry team who pipped their BBC rivals to the post, with a slightly higher engagement rate overall on Facebook and Instagram vs. BBC pundits.

When looking at sentiment, there were 2.2 times more positive than negative discussions around BBC punditson social media, versus 1.45 times more positive than negative discussions around ITV pundits.

However, for brands looking to maximise their association with a TV ‘face’ of the Euros, it was the ITV punditry team who delivered the most value to brands through branded content posts, with the ITV team racking up a combined total of $165k media value for brand partners, compared to the BBC’s $38K. Much of this value was driven by ITV pundit Ian Wright, who has brand partnerships with Cadbury, Gillette, Adidas and Barclays.

Tom McCormack Head of Rights Holders at Nielsen Sports said, “Using Nielsen Sport’s social analytics tool we can see that the BBC team are the favourites in the battle for social media during the Euros when looking at the counting KPIs in isolation. However, it is neck and neck between the two teams on engagements per 1000 followers, highlighting the importance of a smaller but potentially more valuable audience.”

“With presenters and pundits likely to share plenty of content promoting their involvement in the Euros across their social channels their ability to reach a large and engaged audience will may not necessarily drive traffic to the linear broadcast but will certainly supplement the coverage and enhance the experience for the fans.”

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