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On 2 March, the ESADE Alumni International Barcelona Chapter, together with the ESADE MBA Consulting Club and the Sports Business Club, organized a talk entitled ''Trends in the sports industry from a consulting viewpoint: football and e-sports'' at the Esadeforum auditorium in Barcelona.
Tim Bridges and Sam Boor, senior consultants at Deloitte UK, a team specialized in the sports business and particularly football, presented the 2017 Deloitte Football Money League report, the 20th edition of the ranking of the world’s top 30 football clubs in terms of revenue. This report published just eight months after the end of the 2015-16 season is the most reliable analysis of the financial performance of clubs.
The Money League focuses on clubs’ ability to generate revenue from match days, broadcasting rights (including broadcasting games in domestic leagues, cups and competitions of European clubs) and commercial rights (including sponsorship, tours and other business transactions).
The changing financial landscape of football over the last 20 years has been extraordinary and fascinating in equal measure.
This report envisages that the €600m revenue barrier will be broken for the first time by three clubs: Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.
For the third consecutive year, the top ten slots are occupied by the same clubs, although five are in different positions. Real Madrid and Manchester United have swapped places, Paris Saint-Germain ranks sixth, Bayern Munich fourth and Manchester City also climbs to fifth position.
Total revenue for the top 20 is another record and this is the first time that the combined revenues of the top 20 have surpassed €7,000 million, i.e. €7,400 million, 12% higher than the top 20 the previous year.
When the Deloitte Football Money League was first published in the 1996-97 season, Manchester United was in first place with revenue of GBP 88m. In 2017 Real Madrid is in the number 1 slot after 11 years of Spanish domination, with income almost six times that of 1997.
In the 20 editions of this report, 42 teams from 11 leagues around the world have been in the top 20, although only 10 teams have appeared in the top 20 every year, with a prevalence of English, French, German and Italian clubs.
Bridges and Moor explained that Deloitte has calculated the chances of clubs from different countries around the world being in the Money League in the year 2030. They also gave some KPIs from those leagues to serve as benchmarks. Finally, they talked about the up-and-coming China Super League and the plans to develop football in China.
Carlos Cantó (Lic&MBA 90), founder of SPSG Consulting and academic collaborator in ESADE’s Department of General Management and Strategy, analysed the sports industry from the angle of new trends and innovation in six areas: sponsorship, monetization, spaces, channels, innovation and ownership.
Sponsorship has increased by an average 4% each year for the last five years, with a global estimate of US$ 62.800 million dollars by 2017. According to Cantó, in order to be successful in this field, it is necessary to take into account current trends, based on a 360º outlook, avoid seasonality, generate revenue, differentiate oneself, and also to take into account social responsibility, naming rights, synergies and associations. ''In sport, loyalty is crucial so satisfaction is fundamental, but the challenge is monetisation.'' In this respect, Cantó explained the 4 ring models used to delimit the scope of a sporting event on the day of the match and before and after: from the nearest surroundings where the match takes place to the global environment that can be accessed thanks to technology. ''In the future only 1% of the population will see sporting events in situ. We must start thinking about how sports can adapt to new technologies.''
The 1st ring is the most iconic scenario for sponsors, and they can offer experiences in the 2nd ring, i.e. the surroundings, and contents in the 3rd ring (half of Spain’s population watches a second screen while watching sports on TV), meaning a radical change in the framework of reference, and then there is 4th ring where the real and virtual worlds are located.
Carlos Cantó wound up the presentation by commenting on the boom in eSports, how they will change our relationship with sport thanks to 3D, and the many projects in start-ups, accelerators and innovation hubs such as Cityfootball, Fenway Sports Group, Bruin and IMG that are already working on future possibilities.
Ángel Echavarren (PAD 09), director of the Game Practices Advisory Board at Deloitte Spain, spoke about the present and future of e-sports from the perspective of consulting and business opportunities. The e-sport phenomenon has prompted a shift from simple video game competitions between friends to full-blown competitions held in huge sports arenas that are watched by millions of spectators, between when they first emerged with baby boomers to generation Z. ''When I was a child I thought that playing video games was a waste of time, but I don’t now,'' said Echavarren. The 2016 turnover of the global e-sports industry was more than US$600 million dollars, with forecasts of some US$ 1,500 million by 2019.
The value chain of e-sports is based on the organization of leagues and tournaments forn players and teams, general public events, and professional and amateur leagues – all driven by an ever larger broadcasting infrastructure.
Angel said that the only difference between e-sports and sports in general is that the regulations governing e-sports have yet to be defined. ''But the possibilities are infinite. This is a global phenomenon with no frontiers. e-sports are classified as FPS (first person shooter), MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), Sports Games & Racing and RTS (real time strategy), and is an industry whose focal point is the customer but which also has teams, sponsors, event organizers, telecom companies, advertisers and programmers,'' he explained. All this means business opportunities for developers, distributors, professional services, etc.
''Why do sports and brands want to be in e-sports?'', asked the speaker. ''In order to reach millennials (among US men aged 21-35, e-sports are as popular as baseball and ice hockey), video games have become a global spectator sport, and if e-sports manage to generate as much revenue per fan as the NBA, it will be 5 times what it is now,'' he explained.
Finally, a discussion chaired by Fernando Pons (head of Deloitte Spain’s sports business division), addressed several issues including the challenges that sports clubs face when managing big data or using technology to segment target markets. The audience also had the opportunity to do some networking.
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