Tag Archive for: digital

InCrowd and The ECB win Sports Technology Award

Last night InCrowd and England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) were delighted to be named Sports Technology Partnership of the Year, at the Sports Technology Awards 2022, expertly run by The STA Group.

This was a highly competitive category, with the other shortlisted contenders all having great years. Thanks again to those at The STA Group for hosting such a special evening!

Here’s to another great year and summer ahead with The Hundred!

For the full list of winners, click here

InCrowd and the ECB now look to Summer 2022 and the plans already unfolding to make the return of The Hundred even bigger and better than 2021 – download the app now, and keep an eye out!

To find out more about InCrowd Customer Data and Fan experiences products, visit www.incrowdsports.com or get in touch directly on enquiries@incrowdsports.com to set up a quick all


Euroleague and InCrowd launch new official app

Euroleague Basketball launch new official app!

To accompany their new website, built by UNRVLD and powered by InCrowd’s digital experience platform, Bridge, Euroleague and InCrowd are pleased to announce the launch of a new iOS and Android app.

The new app allows fans to keep up to date with the action from all three competitions, this time right in the pocket of the Euroleague fan. Live match updates, box scores, play by plays, video and dynamic news feeds mean that fans will never miss a moment…

Find out more HERE

Exciting times ahead as InCrowd expands it’s broad product and services offering into a more diverse roster of sports. To find out more visit www.incrowdsports.com or get in touch directly on enquiries@incrowdsports.com


Ulster Rugby launch new official app with InCrowd

The new official Ulster Rugby App is now live!

As part of their digital transformation and to accompany their new InCrowd built website launched in November 2021, Ulster Rugby and InCrowd have teamed up to deliver a club first with the launch of an Official app.

With the fan very much first in mind, the new app will be the ultimate Ulster Rugby companion; alongside native, stats driven match centres, the app will deliver exclusive news, personalised content, competitions and gamification to fans and provides new sponsorship opportunities.

Another exciting step for Ulster Rugby and InCrowd; keep an eye out for new features in the future as the team continue to develop the Ulster Rugby experience, #ForEveryFan…

Find out more HERE


Rugby League World Cup Agency Roster Announced

Activity is starting to ramp up for the Rugby League World Cup 2021!

Ahead of the competition kicking off in October, RLWC21 has announced an incredible roster of individuals and business partners to deliver a truly memorable tournament for fans of Rugby League, old and new.

InCrowd are supporting the RLWC21 takeover of the The Rugby Football League’s official #OurLeague app for the build up to and duration of the tournament.

RLWC21 will be able to immediately connect with the 210K+ Our League members via InCrowd’s intelligent, data powered marketing technology and introduce new fans to the sport through exciting new activations. The Our League app will become a second screen companion to the tournament with sophisticated match centres, polls, exclusive news and personalised content bringing fans even closer to the event.

In addition audience driven, content and personalisation tools will offer brand partners new, exciting and hyper targeted sponsorship opportunities to drive ROI.

Find out more HERE


Fijian Drua partner with InCrowd Sports

The Fijian Drua, the newest franchise in Super Rugby Pacific have appointed InCrowd Sports to lead its fan and digital strategy, starting with the launch of a new website – drua.rugby. 

The Fijian Drua, who will be playing home fixtures across Fiji and Australia in their first season, have been established to deliver a sustainable route for Fijian talent to play professional rugby, whilst also showcasing Fiji’s exciting style of play in the southern hemisphere’s biggest competition.

Key to the Fijian Drua’s growth strategy will be engaging the significant audience with interest in Fijian Rugby, so the club has appointed leading data, technology and sports marketing specialists InCrowd, who are helping build a digital ecosystem from the ground up to deliver personalised experiences and engaging content for fans in Fiji and around the world.

InCrowd has a proven track record of producing industry-leading fan technology, data solutions and professional services for a portfolio of clients that include URC (formerly PRO14 Rugby), Premiership Rugby, Euroleague Basketball, Formula 1, ECB, Rugby Football League and a number of Premier League and Championship football clubs.

In Australia and New Zealand, InCrowd currently delivers technology across 33 venues including the SCG, Stadium Australia and CommBank Stadium, as well as working with organisations such as Golf Australia and Netball Australia.

During the 2022 Super Rugby season, drua.rugby will have real time updates during match days, as well as latest news, statistical graphics, fan voting, competitions, player profiles, video galleries, interviews and other exclusive content.

The website has been built upon InCrowd’s digital experience platform, Bridge, which includes a sports specific headless CMS, digital asset manager, fan engagement tools, audience insights and tools that enable personalised content delivery and communications based on 1st party data.

As part of the partnership, InCrowd will support the Fijian Drua as they generate and collect more fan data, helping the club with its commercial strategy as well as personalising fan communications across multiple new channels as they are launched. Fijian Drua CEO, Brian Thorburn, said:

“We’re committed to offering our fans, supporters and stakeholders an outstanding digital experience when they engage with us online and DRUA.RUGBY is obviously the most critical component of this objective. We may be a brand new team but one with very strong roots. And even before running out for our first game, we have a strong global following and premium brand associations with major global players including Swire Shipping, New Balance, Fiji Airways, ANZ and Vodafone. Our partnership with InCrowd will further strengthen our engagement with our audiences at home and wherever they are overseas, with content and interactivity which will be unique to the Drua.”

InCrowd Head of Partnerships APAC Seb Lear, said:

“This is an incredibly exciting project which we are honoured to be part of. In a broader context, this is a game changer in the global rugby landscape by helping Fiji create a sustainable talent pathway and a commercial strategy that keeps the incredible Fijian talent in the Pacific. It’s been a pleasure to work with the Fijian Drua team over the last few months to begin to deliver great digital experiences for the passionate fans of Fijian Rugby. This fan first approach is a value at InCrowd’s core, with the foundation of the business built on helping sports organisations create direct relationships with their fans to drive commercial value, something that has been even more critical for every sport to focus on over the last 2 years.”

The Fijian Drua will play their first ever Super Rugby Pacific match against the NSW Waratahs at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta, Western Sydney on Friday 18 February.

Interview: Dan Lipman – “Changing the industry…”

Chief Commercial Officer, Dan Lipman, talks to iSportConnect’s Ben Page about how InCrowd is helping sports clients to utilise data to drive change across their digital ecosystem and maximise ROI.

They discuss the impact of data powered personalisation and innovative new technology that is enabling rights holders to transform how they connect and communicate with their fans.

Read the full interview here

InCrowd Welcomes John Beale as CFO

After an incredibly successful 18 months, InCrowd continues to drive forward and expand its digital and data offering in international markets by appointing John Beale as it’s new CFO. John will be stepping into the role with the retirement of current incumbent David Johnson, who has been instrumental in the rapid expansion of InCrowd as a business in its 6 years.

With a proven ability in implementing corporate control and commercial flexibility in high growth technology markets, John has been part of a senior management team that led the development of a multi geographical £200m digital content sales organisation from VC, to AIM and subsequent sale. John specifically oversaw the finance function as well as data compliance and cyber security, GDPR and development of payment fraud IP via the use of deep data technologies.

John’s more recent experience of engaging legacy retail consumers with the world of recurring digital content purchasing in order to drive long term, profitable revenue streams stands him in good stead for the role, bringing a new set of experiences and technological understanding that will be paramount in the next phase of business growth for InCrowd as the company progresses its data capture and monetisation model.

“John brings some great technology sector experience to the business as we lay the foundations for the next phase of growth,” says InCrowd CEO Aidan Cooney. “I am delighted that he has agreed to join us on our journey.”

Outside of work John has always been a keen sportsman, playing a lot of football, cricket and running the odd half marathon over the years and in the post ‘kids era’ running local teams in the community across many sports.

“I am really looking forward to my journey at InCrowd and aligning my true love for sport, both as a participant and a fan, with my experience in helping to build high growth technology and specifically data services enterprises” John says.

“Aligning these two passions makes this a really exciting proposition for me. What is truly exciting is to be part of a technology business that has already proven the value of it’s core proposition with multiple key global clients and partners, combined with the obvious need across all walks of life for successful, collaborative digital transformation to optimise customer experiences. I am really looking forward to joining the InCrowd team and being part of the continued growth story!!”

About John Beale
John has over 10 years of experience in the IT Managed Services and Telecoms sectors, working specifically in growing entrepreneurial businesses undergoing both organic and inorganic change. As an ACMA qualified accountant and graduate in Mathematics with Economics, John has held the position as CFO of Evoxus, Telinet and niu-solutions in VC backed, leveraged environments focusing specifically on understanding and delivering the corporate control and commercial understanding requirements of companies in high growth technology markets. John joined Mi-Pay in February 2011 as CFO and now joins InCrowd in a period of exceptional growth.

For more information, contact enquiries@incrowdsports.com

New Ulster Rugby website goes live

The new Ulster Rugby website is live!

We are delighted to announce that the new Ulster Rugby website is live!

A great team to work with, this is a club with huge aspirations for their digital platforms and the delivery of incredible experiences for their fans.

The launch of the website is the next big step in their digital transformation journey and we’re very happy to continue to work together to deliver great things in the future!

Read more about the project and take a look around the new site – just follow the link: Ulster.Rugby

RLWC2021 takeover for Our League

The Rugby Football League, Rugby League World Cup (RLWC2021) and InCrowd and are thrilled to announce that RLWC2021 will stage a takeover of the Our League app this autumn.

The takeover will begin this month with regular Rugby League World Cup news being served to fans within Our League, as the final countdown to the tournament begins.

Then from mid-October, after the Betfred Super League and Women’s Super League Grand Finals, Our League will be devoted to the biggest ever celebration of Rugby League – as the Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair World Cups take centre stage, bringing World Cup content to Rugby League fans all over the world.

All the Our League features – Match Centre, Player of the Match polls, the Predictor Game and much more – will be given an RLWC2021 makeover which will remain all the way through to Finals weekend in late November. With Our League already serving a membership of more than 190,000 League supporters, RLWC2021 will have a flying start in developing a regular conversation with Rugby League fans. Mark Foster, the RFL’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “This is one of the most exciting partnerships since we launched Our League nearly four years ago.

RLWC2021 offers the sport of Rugby League its most exciting platform, and their takeover of Our League is the perfect way of bringing the tournament to life – both for existing loyal fans, and also the thousands of sports lovers who will be experiencing Rugby League for the first time.

We’ve spent the last four years working closely with InCrowd to develop Our League, ensuring it provides the features, information and rewards that Rugby League fans want, in an accessible and interactive way. The RLWC2021 takeover will take Our League to a new level – allowing new Rugby League fans on both sides of the globe to immerse themselves in our sport.”

B Hunter, RLWC2021 Digital and Content Director, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the RFL and InCrowd in developing Our League for RLWC2021.

“The app will be the go-to source of information and entertainment for fans during the tournament. We encourage fans to download early to make sure they receive all the latest news, ticket and spectator information direct to their devices.”

“In this relationship with the RFL and InCrowd we are also proud to be able to make an investment back into the sport that will serve fans as a lasting legacy of the World Cup.”

Darren Parsons, InCrowd Senior Account & Insights Manager, said “We’re delighted to be able to support RLWC2021 by using the existing Our League platform to engage current users and those new to rugby league.

The Our League app has proven to be incredibly valuable in growing first party data for the RFL which has led to the delivery of rich and personalised content experiences direct to fans.

We’re very proud to work with both The RFL and RLWC2021 on this collaborative project and we’re excited to develop existing and new features for the tournament takeover and beyond, which will drive a boost in users and build on the already great legacy of Our League.”

Download the Our League app now!
Android – Google Play Store
iOS – App Store

BLOG: How can sports clubs benefit from the burgeoning relationship between their stars and their fans?

You always felt that Alex Ferguson’s oft used adage that “no one player is bigger than the club” was a wrestling attempt to subvert the rising power of his stars beneath the machinery of his powerhouse team. Seven years after his retirement at Manchester United, it is difficult to imagine a manager feeling they have the leverage to say the same thing with such confidence in front of the television cameras.

The world has changed. This is the age of star power in all walks of life including sport. Celebrity influence conquers all and if sports stars are able to harness their image rights and their brand adequately, their employers are required to pay homage to the new religion. Marcus Rashford’s recent achievement in almost single-handedly forcing the UK ministers to change its policy regarding the extension of free school meals for children during the summer holidays shows that even governments have to follow.

Player Value

Is there a way that this changing landscape of power could benefit the clubs? Until the Bosman ruling in 1990, even if a European football player was out of contract with a club, the club could have prevented the player from moving on to another for as long as they felt like it. That ruling started the shift towards player power which was accelerated by the money flooding into football, funded by the PayTV revolution.

In 1990, Italy’s Roberto Baggio was the world’s most expensive soccer player having been bought for the equivalent of €11.6 million by Juventus; compare this to the €222 million paid by PSG for Neymar 27 years later. That neatly gives us a twenty-fold increase and the CIES Observatory tells us you would need to pay well over €250m for Mbappe in 2020. The graph below shows UK-only median figures over a 20 year period, showing a nine-fold increase for Pl transfer free (adjusted for inflation), set against UK house prices’ stellar growth for comparison:

On a side note it is interesting, and rather extraordinary, to note that this stellar growth would actually be dwarfed by the growth in salaries in the same time period.

In European sports it is not just the influx of revenues that have driven player prices up. The competition for talent between clubs and leagues means that it is very difficult to get a grip on escalating transfer fees and transfer prices.

Unlike in US sports where governance is centralised and there is relatively little or no international competition for talent, European sports have no governance framework at an international level to enable an effective salary capping system or collective agreement with players. This also extends to the murky world of player agents and transfer fees which further tips the balance away from the clubs.

The age of social media

This escalating financial muscle started the shift in balance between players and clubs that Ferguson was trying to contain. However, what really cemented this shift beyond a doubt was the arrival of social media platforms in the late 00’s and the subsequent effect it had on increasing celebrity and star power. This dwarfs any other factor at the elite level. Sports stars have long been considered as icons and pin-ups (let’s not forget David Beckham pre-dated the social storm) but social media has provided them with a platform to showcase themselves directly to their fans.

Players have become skilled content creators and have amassed huge followings, which in turn drives their personal brand.

This table shows a sample of the social media following of the top teams and athletes alongside stars of entertainment and social media influencers. Of the top ten, six are from sports including Ronaldo, Neymar, Messi, FC Barcelona and Lebron James:

What impact does this have on the clubs?

Plenty. First of all, managerial tenures are getting shorter as the likelihood increases of losing the players’ confidence, and just to complete the volte-face, players can now hold the club to ransom if they feel like it, as Griezmann and Neymar did last Summer. Although Paul Pogba would probably dispute this, clubs have to do as they are told by their stars.

Secondly, as the Deloitte Football Money League 2020 report shows, ‘Generation Z’ fans (aged 16-24) have more of an allegiance to individual players than a club, and their club support is transient.

Finally, it shows in the finances. Another Deloitte report, the Annual Review of Football Finance 2020 highlights that Premier League clubs’ spending on playing talent created a negative swing of almost £600m in 2018/19 compared to 2017/18, with clubs recording an aggregate loss of £165m.

Almost half of the Premier League’s clubs recorded losses for the first time since 2015/16 when the clubs knew they were in for a bumper rise in broadcast values the following season. That will not be so on this occasion. These losses are despite each club receiving a minimum of £100m in distributions each year.

According to an Esportif report, the story in rugby is not too dissimilar with combined Premiership Rugby club revenues of £208m in 2018/19 and a combined operating loss of £36m, despite a salary cap supposedly having been in place. The league has recently announced a reduction in the cap to help the clubs combat the pandemic’s impact on matchday revenues, which represent 24% of the average club’s total income vs 19% in Premier League football.

As a postscript, whilst star power has not been great for the club profits to date, sometimes celebrity transcends normal metrics. The CR7 brand had a quite extraordinary impact on the Juventus share price when Ronaldo signed for the club in July 2018:

Benefitting from Star Power

So how can clubs harness star power into an asset that benefits their businesses and brands as well as the brands of the individual players? By demonstrating that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. As described above, clubs have lost their contractual leverage with players post-Bosman and their financial leverage through competition between leagues and a lack of international governance structures. They need to find an alternative way of re-balancing.

I offer two suggestions for collaborating to grow the value of intellectual property rights for the benefit of all.

Commercialise

Firstly, star power represents an enormous commercial opportunity for clubs if used correctly. The social reach offers clubs a chance to broaden their fanbase and attract new types of supporters that might be more interested in a particular player.

This is both passive and active. The CR7 example above resulted in a fourfold increase in the club’s Instagram followings for the club (passive) but it’s also a question of contractually agreeing the right commercial controls for image rights and commercial obligations to benefit your commercial partners (active). Technology is available to help clubs deliver content to players and improve the content on their channels which is of mutual benefit.

Build Value

Secondly, clubs should be building the value of their own digital assets by leveraging their own unique IP in the way that the players have done so successfully via social media, and create brands and platforms that prove worthy of the players’ involvement beyond the pitch. At the moment this is a dream rather than a reality for most clubs, but a goal that can be achieved with the right investment. Technology is available to help clubs get to know their existing audiences and grow them by creating content and products that appeal to typically social media savvy generations as well as all those that were born before them.

The venue or stadium is a unique opportunity to deliver great experiences to fans and this is ultimately where players need to perform in order to drive their brands. This is the home of the club as well as the player and that is something to leverage with fans, who will be disenfranchised if you don’t make their experiences memorable and worth sharing with their friends and networks.

Collaborating with players to collectively grow brands is a no-brainer. If Harvard University can develop a lifestyle brand then so can a sports league or team.

Anyone that has spent lockdown relishing Netflix’s “Last Dance” will have seen first hand the power that the stars of the 80’s and 90’s had in propelling the NBA and its clubs beyond the sport itself and into an urban culture phenomenon. Clearly the rise of Michael Jordan from a player to a worldwide icon was made possible via mass media, but the learnings from this period has made the NBA acutely aware of how the personalities within its league can be leveraged via new digital media channels.

Compared to the NFL for example, the NBA benefits from small team sizes that allows for greater player fan interaction, but this is further enhanced by the fact that the NBA does its part to ensure that individual player personalities are never hidden from fans. A report by MVPindex showed the impact of this approach commercially. The NBA and team accounts collectively generated more than $1.1B of value for brand partners in 2019, compared to $343M in brand value attributed to the NFL social ecosystem.

Conclusion

This is not a case of deciding to adopt a new approach or sticking to previous methods. This is an essential development that teams and leagues need to embrace to move forward. There is no reversing star power and its impact on clubs but there is an opportunity to re-balance by harnessing it for the greater good. This requires a change in thinking from clubs alongside investment in technology and content creation that delivers a platform that is deserving of players lending their own brands for the collective benefit of all parties.

Tag Archive for: digital