Football site Goal is exploring longer TV-quality shows specifically for Facebook Live, which can be monetized via branded-content segments.
The Perform Media-owned sports publisher rolled out a weekly Facebook Live football show called “Studs Up,” last Thursday, targeted at young football fans and featuring its first sponsored segment in a Live show. The concept was co-created with Unilever brand Sure.
The show features a series of one- to two-minute segments, some of which were pre-recorded, interspersed with live reaction and discussion from the show’s main presenters: YouTube presenter Rory Jennings, comedian Nathan Canton and radio presenter Emma Conybeare. Each week, they’re joined by a different special guest to discuss what’s happening in the Premier League, with players and teams. Actor Jordan Stephens, from British hip-hop band Rizzle Kicks, was the first episode’s guest.
The show mimics the high-production values of linear TV but can flex up and down in length depending on how viewers interact. The first episode was intended as a 30-minute TV show but was stretched to 50 minutes after a flurry of interest from viewers interested in asking Stephens questions.
“We’re not held back by the traditional constraints of TV formats,” said Goal’s digital editor-in-chief, James Marley. “Goal’s mission statement is about appealing to the new breed of football fans, and they demand to be involved with content. If you don’t produce content that engages them, you won’t get that audience,” he added.
The Sure-sponsored segment, which ran within the first 30 minutes of the show, was a pre-recorded piece of creative called the “Pressure Index,” the fruits of a combined effort of Sure’s agency, Mindshare; Goal’s sports data arm, Opta; and Goal Studios.
To create the index, Opta pulls in 750,000 different data points like a player’s league position, point in the season and their opposition, to calculate a rating out of 100 for how each footballer copes with the stress of competing in the Premiership, each week. This segment is labelled “presented by Sure” and Opta’s U.K. head of content provided a voice-over (and subtitles) running through the figures. The results are then discussed by the presenters.
Goal ran teasers for the show and Pressure Index across its other social platforms, with trailers running on Instagram Stories along with Facebook and YouTube. During the live broadcast, 42,000 people were tuned in, though more people watched the show on-demand, taking the total to 166,000, according to Goal. The show was also run on YouTube on Sunday and accrued 1,000 views there.
Still, all the Facebook measurement snafus over the last six months have made clear that advertisers’ traditional tendencies of obsessing over big view counts are increasingly obsolete, according to Mindshare managing partner Jed Hallam, who worked on the “Pressure Index.”
“As an agency, we prefer to think beyond just the impressions, and about what actions we can drive from it,” he added. When measuring the success of Facebook Live integrations, the agency will monitor whether the people who are engaging are ones the brand wants to target, as well as whether there are links to sales. “Digital shouldn’t just be for short-term performance; we need to push how it can attribute to things like brand equity,” he added.
Mindshare has done roughly six Facebook Live branded-content experiments in the last six months, some directly with brands and others with publishers. “The volume of TV-like content that’s starting to run on platforms like Facebook Live makes it more appealing for advertisers,” said Hallam.
The TV-like format is the most ambitious Goal has produced to date, filmed in a dedicated studio with multiple cameras and six producers assigned to the show. In time, the format may be extended outside the U.K. to other markets with a high appetite for football including Japan and other European markets.”We believe we can scale this format,” said Goal Studios co-managing director Martyn Jones.
“We are very much iterating on this, which is probably why we have resisted [advertiser] investment until this point. We wanted to get a feel for how to commercialize it,” he said. This particular partnership comes via a wider agreement with Goal and Sure, but there is scope for monetizing Facebook Live this way in future. “It will be through branded content or segments we create with sponsors and partners, where we can create some kind of authentic branded experience for them,” added Jones.