Singapore – More than 243,000 local viewers tune in for live Barclays Premier League (BPL) matches on Singtel TV every month, making it the most followed football league in Singapore. Consequently, locally-based brands are seeking a deeper understanding of Singapore’s ardent fan base, as they explore new ways to optimise BPL-associated sponsorships and advertisements.

Singtel Advertising, a media platform under Group Consumer, Singtel that offers integrated advertising solutions, has aggregated two seasons of local BPL viewership data with household demographic and product consumption information, and emerged with a series of BPL viewership insights that will inform brand-fan engagement strategies moving forward.

Anurag Dahiya, Head of Content and Advertising Sales, Group Consumer, Singtel commented, “Sports fans have rich emotional connections with the leagues, teams and athletes they support. Thus, if a brand aims to identify opportune moments to establish brand affinity or participate in a BPL-related conversation, an in-depth understanding of fan behaviour is essential. With data-driven insights, we hope to assist sports marketers in enhancing brand-fan engagement, and contribute to the BPL banter among local fans.”

 Insight #1: Team popularity trumps all on the leadership board:

If the BPL title was decided on team popularity alone; locally, Liverpool (79,760 average viewers per match) would top the standings, followed by Chelsea (67,500), Manchester United (65,000) and Tottenham Hotspur (52,500).

Amongst those who missed out on ‘top four’− Manchester City fans, the ‘less noisy neighbours’ in this part of the world; hypercritical Arsenal fans, who now have to zip their lips about Arsene Wenger (even as he struggles to zip his jacket).

It is clear that teams that have built the strongest fan following have the strongest advertising potential, more than some teams that currently lead the BPL table.

Insight #2: The surprise packages of the season often win over the neutrals:

Last season, unfancied Liverpool developed a reputation for scintillating football and mounted a title charge. The club’s match viewership increased in the second half of the season.

This season, Southampton’s swashbuckling style of play and unexpectedly good performances, and Tottenham Hotspur’s resurgence as a result of free-scoring youth prospect Harry Kane, has set them on course for a sustained increase in match viewership as compared to last season.

During the season, teams who exceed pre-season expectations typically enjoy a 10-20 percent increase in viewership. While the size of a team’s traditional fan following determines advertising potential at the start of the season, brands must pay attention to performances throughout the season and adjust their strategies to maximise engagement.

Insight #3: With a regular viewership that already surpasses movies, kids and news channels, the final 10 rounds of BPL matches have even more viewers on the edge of their seats:

130,900 fans, more than double the average match viewership, tuned in for Liverpool against Chelsea on 27 April 2014, the game where the title was said to be ‘won’ and ‘lost.’

 Last season, as the BPL title race went down to the wire, eight out of 10 matches with the highest viewership took place during the season’s final three months (March to May).

This means that brands receive additional value from advertising during the climatic final 10 rounds of matches, or as the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson would call it, ‘squeaky bum time’ – sometimes by two-fold or even three-fold.

Insight #4: Dedicated fans are both weekday and weekend warriors:

Local fans stay up to support their teams during late kick-offs (3 a.m. and 4 a.m.), even when they have work or school the following morning.

On average, an estimated 17,500 viewers tune in for late kick-offs. Matches involving Manchester United reported the highest average ratings.

It’s a myth that no one watches weekday matches. In fact, it is crucial that brands profile sports fans and formulate engagement strategies based on the teams they support and their dedication levels.

Insight #5: Local fans love their mobile phones and chips – ‘ideal half-time company’:

Examples of brands that are global sponsors of BPL teams:

1. Consumer Technology: Samsung, HP, Epson

2. Food & Beverage: Coca Cola, Nissin, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Gatorade

3. Hospitality & Travel: Emirates, Garuda Indonesia, Etihad

4. Alcohol: Carlsberg, Chang Beer, Heineken

5. Automotive: Audi, Chevrolet, Citroen