Real Madrid And Grabyo Are At The Forefront Of A Digital Revolution

Real Madrid fans are likely thrilled that Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have signed multi-year contract extensions with Los Blancos, and being atop La Liga isn’t too shabby either.

Aside from that enthralling 3-3 draw with Legia Warszawa, things are looking bright for the boys clad in white. Gareth Bale is picking up Ronaldo’s slack, Morata is banging in goals as a super-sub and Zidane still has a job. What many Madridistas probably aren’t thinking about is the club’s decision to take their TV channel [Real Madrid TV] to Facebook Live

Some football fans might recall that the last Clasico, which saw Real fend off Barcelona, was the first sports match to be broadcast in VR. We’ll certainly see more of this in the future, and executives at the Bernabeu seem to agree with the digital trend, as they’ve partnered with cloud-based video tool Grabyo and have begun broadcasting their TV channel on Facebook Live. Real’s first use of Grabyo was for the UEFA Champions League final, and since then they’ve amassed upwards of 110 million views on social media and their content has appeared on more than a billion social media feeds.

Over 128 broadcasts and counting, Real Madrid have averaged 3 million views per live video and have effectively highlighted the potential of OTT (Over-the-top) content. This goes beyond live-streaming games and delves into the nightmares of cable companies whilst benefitting those cord-cutters. Real Madrid proved that they’re able to reach a massive audience outside the reach of traditional satellite and cable operators and what they’ve done is likely to be emulated by other content providers around the world. That said, Real Madrid have one of the most popular athletes in the world in Ronaldo, and Los Blancos are one of the most valuable teams (and one of the most popular) in the world.

Real’s incredible popularity accounts for their impressive reach and FB Live viewership, but the model clearly works and it’s telling with regards to where broadcast media is headed.

Gareth Capon, CEO of Grabyo, had a chat with The Drum about the success Real Madrid have achieved thus far by using the platform. He feels that the success exhibited by his partnership with Real shows how the habits in which sports fans consume content is changing.

“These results show us that the demand for professionally produced, exclusive, behind the scenes content for football clubs has not diminished. It’s just that the way we want to consume it has changed,” said Capon.

“One of the key challenges for the clubs has been that these linear TV channels were rarely “live”, offering a range of on-demand content packaged as TV shows throughout the day. The channels also lacked the most valuable content for the fans – live games from the Premier League, Serie A or the UEFA Champions League. More importantly, football fans are now increasingly spending their time on social platforms.”

Grabyo has also been acting as a consultant of sorts to these sports rights holders to capitalize on changes in viewing habits. What’s more, Capon insists that monetization on Facebook Live is “only just beginning with Facebook Branded Content.”

“The Real Madrid TV project shows there is considerable reach which will open up fascinating opportunities for adveritisng and sponsorship – when you consider the targeting and the localisation of advertising in regional markets that will be possible on Facebook it becomes very interesting indeed.”

Ultimately, it’s about a shift in the way we consume content and digital streaming services are to cable broadcasts what mobile is to desktop.

“But as OTT becomes the dominant platform for TV distribution then the likelihood of digital businesses investing directly in rights will increase – creating greater competition for TV networks and broadcasters.” Capon continued.

And he’s likely spot on. Others will look to capitalize on this paradigm shift and broadcast content as we know it is on the verge of widespread change. Whether or not everyone is onboard remains to be seen.

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