While current health restrictions prevent large groups from watching sports together, LaLiga is managing to bring people around the world together to enjoy Spanish football matches. Digital watch parties for some of the biggest LaLiga Santander games have been held in a variety of markets in almost every continent, using an innovative new platform that is now being made available globally.
For several years, LaLiga has held global watch parties in locations that have attracted thousands of spectators. While most of these events have not been able to take place in the past year, LaLiga has created digital VIP matchday experiences that bring fans, stars and sponsors closer together without the need to step outside the front door.
Such events have been held around big matches like ElClásico and the Madrid derby, with a LaLiga legend attending and interacting with the fans, resulting in extremely high user engagement.
“LaLiga is committed to delivering unique and innovative experiences to our fans in every part of the world, especially during the current social distancing circumstances,” said Óscar Mayo, LaLiga’s business, marketing and international development director.
“We have reinvented ourselves and looked for solutions to give our fans a chance to keep sharing moments and interact with other around LaLiga matches. Our fans have really enjoyed being brought deeper into the game and sharing unique, social experiences with their favourite teams, players and each other.”
New experiences for global fans and sponsors
The virtual watch parties were created with the aim of replicating a traditional VIP matchday experience in a virtual environment while giving fans a sense of exclusivity. Each event is hosted by a LaLiga anchor and features an appearance from a LaLiga Ambassador, a former star of the competition.
The fans can watch a live stream of the match within the digital platform and can simultaneously interact with the Ambassador as well as other spectators. They can also enter competitions and participate in polls, quizzes and other interactions. Early events have been an overwhelming success with an average engagement rate of 74.5%, with fans sending an average of 11 messages in the chat during each match.
From a business perspective, this also provides commercial partners new ways to reach and interact with fans while stadiums remain closed to the public. Since the idea was conceived, brands have been able to team up with LaLiga to offer these experiences for their customers.
This was the case with a watch party held for ElClásico in October, when LaLiga North America sponsor Verizon offered 20 of its customers the chance to watch the game in the virtual company of ex-Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman.
The success of the pilot programme
While these online experiences have been particularly valuable at a time when physical events are not possible, the success means that these watch parties will continue to be held for global fans even after coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted.
The first globally expanded watch party took place in February for fans in Japan, who watched a game between SD Eibar and SD Huesca in the virtual presence of Diego Forlán. Other events have also been held in Germany and Brazil and further expansion of the concept is expected in the coming months.
Experiences built through cutting-edge platforms
LaLiga is offering these events through an agreement with LiveLike, a sports fan engagement platform for live entertainment, as well as WMT, a digital solutions and data-driven technology and marketing agency.
One of LaLiga’s aims from the outset of the project was to work with partners that allow for scalable events which can be customised depending on the host region and target audience. The LiveLike platform goes beyond a traditional second screen or social media experience by integrating the live game into the platform alongside the communication tools.
“Our unique video and voice-conferencing platform paired with LiveLike’s technology is a perfect match given the current demand to distribute and create real-time engagement around content for fans, whether live or on-demand,” explained Andres Focil, the WMT CEO and founder.
“We are grateful for our expanding relationship with LaLiga and to be working closely with them and our partners at WMT to create communal viewing experiences for a growing, global fanbase,” added Miheer Walavalkar, LiveLike’s CEO and co-founder.
“The desire to bring fans together has never been more top-of-mind and LaLiga has taken on the challenge head-on by adopting new technology and innovations that are valuable not only during this time of social distancing, but which will continue to provide new opportunities to engage, retain and monetise audiences into the future.”