Chatbots take the pitch for Euro 2016

U.K.-based online football community Copa 90, which has 2 million Facebook followers, is choosing the UEFA European Championship, aka Euro 2016, to roll out its first Facebook Messenger chatbot.

Facebook users can query the bot for animated updates on the latest goals, team line-ups, player profiles — pretty much anything that it can do, without needing sports rights. Much of the content will also be pulled in from other football magazines with which Copa90 partner publications like Mundial Magazine, Scotts Menswear, Kick and Panenka. Copa 90 worked with Rock Labs to build the bot, which will send out an initial alert in the morning, giving users a taste of the main highlights they may have missed from the previous day’s coverage.

France Guide Screenshot copy

Copa 90 chief James Kirkham, who joined the company six months ago from Leo Burnett, believes within the next year, its entire audience will spend most of their time in some kind of messaging ecosystem. That’s a trend that’s becoming the norm in Asia, where people are staying for longer periods of time within messaging apps, like WeChat, doing things like ordering pizzas and Ubers.

“I firmly believe that within a year the majority of our audience will spend most of their time in some kind of messaging ecosystem, so that’s where we want to be. We’re not trying to mold new behaviors but tap into existing ones. This is just our first foray. We’re hours away from the Euro Championships beginning; the hype and appetite is at its peak.”

Copa 90 is planning to launch on all the big messaging apps like Kik, WeChat, WhatsApp and, but he thinks chatbots are a good place to start.

Team Guide Screenshot 3 copy

“We 100 percent think we can make revenue from it,” said Kirkham. “Within 12 months, a large proportion of our audience can be monetized that way, whether it’s via pay-per-view content or merchandising, where people can buy a Copa 90 shirt or items like that.”

Tim Crow, CEO of Engine Group’s sports sponsorship agency Synergy, said for digital media sports publishers like Copa 90, which don’t have the sports rights around major tournaments, experimenting with distribution tools like Messenger bots is “smart.”

“Any major sporting event like the Euros becomes a battle for attention and eyeballs, and platforms like Copa 90 work hard to complement what the broadcasters do,” he said. “Copa 90 has a great platform and a lot of followers, so they’re in a good position to try new things. Like all the guys in this space, they’re not afraid to experiment.”

Images: courtesy of Copa 90.

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