Despite the initiative being rightly canned, the issue of international broadcast rights will be back. It is almost certain that the largest clubs will want to see an element of selling exclusive rights off their own platforms in this next round and those with the greatest numbers of overseas supporters are going to be the initial winners.
Although the Premier League somewhat hilariously “unanimously” rejected proposals created and promoted by two of their very own finest, the central issues of control and the distribution of funds will return. “Big Picture” has started a process of change which will radically re-shape the Premier League and the English Football League for many years to come.
The core strand that the commercial success of the Premier League has built over 28 years has been the selling of collective media rights both domestically and abroad. Richard Scudamore, over the years, perfected the model of splitting and segmenting a product into many digestible chunks that both domestic and overseas broadcasters were happy to compete for, and in doing so, pay ever increasing amounts. (At least until the most recent round).
In more recent times, the biggest of the clubs, the most successful and to be fair those that had invested in developing their own global brands have sought a greater share particularly in the rapidly expanding overseas rights market. This desire for a greater share resulted in the change last season from an equal distribution across all 20 clubs to a model closer to how domestic rights are distributed. The estimated revenues for 2019/20 are as follows (provided by Swiss Ramble) . For Everton, the revenues from overseas rights represents more than 30% of our turnover — 4 times the gate receipts in a full season (when fans are permitted) — that's the scale of their importance.
|Est. overseas PL payments (2019/20)||£m|
|Brighton & Hove Albion||51.60|
|West Ham United||50.20|
However “Big Picture” moves this particular story into brand new territories. The paper proposes the following:
“All PL clubs shall have the exclusive rights to sell 8 live matches a season directly to fans via their digital platforms in all international territories (excluding the UK) — ideally once a month”
In a League of 18, all clubs would obviously play 17 home games. 8 of those games would be sold and viewed via a club's own digital platform — that represents 47% of all home games. One would assume that the games chosen would be (i) games against the “big six”,plus local Derbies and (ii) occupying the most valuable time slots — Saturday and Sunday afternoons which capture the late Asian market and the early Americas market,in order to maximise viewing figures and revenues collected directly by the clubs themselves.
The interesting dynamic for me is that the creation of competition between the traditional rights holders and the clubs themselves can only finally result in the clubs being solely responsible for all distribution and selling of international rights. A hybrid model where viewers subscribe to their current providers for the relatively less attractive games but subscribe individually to clubs including opposition clubs (when their team is playing away) just isn't sustainable. Within a short period of time the clubs will have exclusive rights to all their (home) games.
Despite Big Picture being rightly canned, this element of the proposals will be back and back shortly. The next round of rights agreements start at the beginning of season 2022/23. It is almost certain that the largest clubs will want to see an element of selling exclusive rights off their own platforms in this next round.
Let's assume that the Premier League agrees to something in time for 2022/23 with regards to partial overseas rights distribution by individual clubs, what are the challenges for Everton? How do we ensure we are in as good a competitive position as we can be?
The clubs with the greatest numbers of overseas supporters are going to be the initial winners. However as I've said before the Premier League hasn't reached anything close to saturation and there are millions of Evertonians around the globe who don't yet know they are Evertonians. They are waiting to be touched…..
Invest in fans
Put simply, Everton have to invest in fans. The People's Club have to invest in people — globally. We have to create the strategies and build the infrastructure that develops a fan base not only in numbers but in depth of relationship too. That has to start now though. This particular clock is already ticking.
Fortunately we do not start completely at zero. We have some global recognition arising from our history, our achievements, our ever present status in the Premier League. We have assets on the ground (more of that later) and in signing players like James and Allan established interest in football hotspots like Columbia and Brazil. Success in the Premier League and regular participation in European competitions would help too, but that's a slow burn.
However, given where we are today, what should the strategy be to gain as many fans as quickly as we can?
We have to invest in people and build a strategy.
Firstly, appoint a senior executive with board level credentials to have overall responsibility for international development.
Initially, focus on those countries or regions where our current playing squad have high profiles and large numbers of followers on social media. Build campaigns around their profile drawing them into supporting Everton because of their existing affiliation with a particular player or players. That campaign must include access to local merchandise and specific content (in local languages) tailored around the player in question.
Similarly we have a number of high profile former players, some of whom already act as ambassadors for the club. Make changes to their role, where possible, which includes specific regional development targets.
Utilise the existing international supporters clubs. Build a programme that provides the resources the supporters clubs need to build their numbers, not only through watching Everton in a local bar but through building local community activities — for example, franchising Everton branded soccer schools for kids, wellbeing and fitness activities for adults. Additionally in terms of increasing profiles, provide supporter groups with the resources to grow an online presence. Then mix locally generated content with club generated content to drive traffic, interest, engagement and growth. Do targeted local advertising — local media, focused digital advertising. From that merchandising opportunities arise either in partnership with Fanatics — why can't every supporter club have its own mini e-commerce store with Fanatics providing the back office and fulfilment? Similarly, allow international supporter clubs to introduce local independent sportswear stores which could stock official merchandise plus supporter club generated goods (tee-shirts, hats, scarves etc).
Supporter groups could compete with each other to see who grows the quickest — the winning group gets a paid for trip to Goodison ( in normal times, of course). The opportunities are endless if there's a resource and infrastructure there to support it. However it needs investment from the club — the club have to invest in the fans.
Fan's Forum International Working Group
The Fans Forum are campaigning actively along similar lines. Tony Sampson, is an expat Scouser, now resident in the US who leads the Fans' Forum International Working Group “ We've engaged extensively with supporters groups in every corner of the world. We heard from them that improving access and visibility to merchandise, tailored resources to support local supporters clubs engagement strategies, building awareness of our great history, developing community efforts and customizing communications are top of mind for them”
“We've been working the Club over the past few months to help inform their plans in these areas. The signings of Rodriguez and Allan provide a wonderful opportunity to accelerate those plans and we believe that things are moving in the right direction, particularly with plans to open up an international HQ”
“But central to any expansion plan will be the need to strengthen the connections between the global network of supporters, provide the resources and tools to help them spread the word and ensure they have a role as genuine partners in our global and expansion strategy”
Although the macro economic picture is not good and will likely remain so for sometime, the use of local regional partnerships (particularly following the Manchester United model) is extremely efficient in building local awareness. Ultimately that local awareness leads to increased opportunities to sell PPV packages involving Everton matches.
It's tempting to ask why none of this and other ideas haven't been executed previously. However, even though Big Picture is not happening in the form proposed, there's no doubt that the principles will be re-visited time and time again until revenue distribution is further skewed in favour of the larger clubs. Thus the challenge is there, we need to grow our international presence post haste. We need to discover ways of monetarising existing relationships, we need to help expand supporter clubs in numbers and in size. We need to use the players we have, our manager, to increase our global presence.
Doing nothing, or continuing as we have before is no longer an option. The cat is out the bag, collective media rights contracts will be phased out, we are going to have to stand on our own two feet, quicker perhaps than we might ever have thought or wished for.
PS — for further details of the work Tony and his group are engaged in please comment below or contact Tony Sampson directly at Tony.firstname.lastname@example.org
Reader Comments (21)
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1 Posted 15/10/2020 at 22:13:13
2 Posted 15/10/2020 at 22:48:06
I was extremely surprised that the clubs envisage a future where they directly sell their content to the market on their own behalf. I was even more surprised to note that this would only apply to international rights, excluding the UK.
My nephew is presently in his final year of economics at uni, majoring in behavioural economics. His take was that the clubs were actually taking the Scudamore strategy to its logical end – splitting and segmenting into ever smaller chunks. For budgetary and commonsense reasons, the clubs will take their own exclusive rights and resell them to a provider into international markets.
The net result is that the likes of Amazon, YouTube or Facebook are tempted to spring for the RS or Man Utd exclusive rights in Asia or the US at a huge premium. Obviously the rights for Burnley or Wolves will attract much less interest and thus money. This is just more money to the top tier at the expense of the bottom.
My streaming service, for example, here in New Zealand might bid for some of the top clubs' rights to buttress their own product, but with perhaps only a few hundred Brighton or Burnley fans in the whole country, what possible commercial justification would there be for bidding for their games? This will enhance and widen an already enormous gap between the big clubs and everyone else.
He also made the sage point: If it becomes more expensive and difficult to watch Premier League football, then less people will find the energy or money to watch Premier League football.
It seems to me that our success on the pitch right now is not just a pleasurable change in the norm, but essential if this club is to play any significant role in this brave new football world. By the time of this next round of rights bidding, we really must be ensconced in the top six or we face missing the boat – a boat that won't be returning anytime soon.
If Moshiri was aware of all this background, it makes his decisions to throw money at the problem until it's solved seem a little more sensible, and it makes his seeming lack of patience much more understandable. The ship's about to sail soon and we have to be on it.
3 Posted 15/10/2020 at 23:51:07
Derek – good points. What goes for you in New Zealand probably goes for us in Australia.
4 Posted 15/10/2020 at 23:52:24
Our international ambassadors could play an active role in promoting those things. And stuff the RS by using our Blue Liver birds!
5 Posted 15/10/2020 at 00:07:55
6 Posted 16/10/2020 at 00:42:44
Have we got a supporters club in Russia? If we haven't, we need to start one – after all, we have good contacts there.
7 Posted 16/10/2020 at 00:44:25
8 Posted 16/10/2020 at 01:55:34
In which case, couldn't we just hold the fuckers to ransom and demand top dollar if Johnny Foreigner (sorry just never had a chance to use that archaic absurd term) ever wants to see the RS, the Arse, or whoever set foot on Goodison?
9 Posted 16/10/2020 at 01:59:52
10 Posted 16/10/2020 at 02:53:37
11 Posted 16/10/2020 at 06:54:12
It's also uncomfortable because, as a club one, of our key failings since the conception of the Premier League is our lack of commercial acumen. We not only missed the bus – we forgot where the bus stop was. (I remember going to see the Blues in Brisbane a few years back, the merchandise pre-game was limited, poor quality, out of date and expensive.)
It's being addressed since Moshiri took the reins but we need to have an international focus as you suggest with some very good initiatives, but they have to be locally managed and locally driven, not one-off initiatives from the Liver Building. Boots on the ground, country managers and investment in the countries that have significant potential for expansion and are sports nuts (India, China, US, South America) – make a list, have a plan, and start managing the opportunities on a 10-year plan.
It's clear too that the also-rans in the Premier League will not have the ability or clout to internationalise and will probably pool their profile collectively with a general provider for much less value than their wealthy neighbours, something we cannot let happen to us as the gap will only widen.
14 Posted 16/10/2020 at 07:16:46
As Christine suggests, we are way behind here which is clearly a threat, but timing in life is important and despite us missing Christine's bus we are fortunate with our history, potential team development (at last) and the ground development to perhaps have a window of opportunity to put Everton back on the map again
15 Posted 16/10/2020 at 11:43:23
Everton are in a position to emulate that success.
nb: Ironically, Everton only stand to lose £11 million in gate receipts which is about 5% of our turnover. Many of the top three are losing 5-6 times as much with 4-7 times as much lost as a proportion of total turnover:
16 Posted 17/10/2020 at 15:58:22
17 Posted 18/10/2020 at 14:54:56
Everton's club presence here is zero. I am the only Everton fan I have ever met and until recently I played in several indoor and outdoor soccer leagues (recreation) for well over ten years. My daughters also played on different teams for a combined 12 years. Never met an Everton fan and I am over 50 years old.
Everton rarely play here and rarely try to obtain American players. Clint Dempsey made A LOT of Fulham and Tottenham fans here. Christian Pulisic has just about every rabid American soccer fan watching Chelsea games - he is our biggest draw by far. Almost every English/Irish pub in America has been dominated by Liverpool fans forever - and we have countless thousands of those pub across America. Everton is not even an afterthought in this country.
First start winning - the club is starting to get more mentions in our tiny soccer-only media which is great. Second get some American players - there 12 in the Bundesliga alone as well as a total of 98 across Europe (in a nation's top league). Third how about playing some games here where it matters? And they should start in South America. As for the US. there are many clubs across Europe who play here EVERY year.
There's more but whatever.
18 Posted 18/10/2020 at 15:26:24
You seem to forget, we had the biggest name in American football playing for us twice: Landon Donovan, former strikers, Joe Max Moore and Brian McBride. I will not count Antonee Robinson as he never played in the Premier League.
Everton are playing more often in America, and there are plenty of Blues about, you have been unfortunate in never coming across them.
America needs to produce more top class footballers, then maybe we might see some in Blue.
19 Posted 18/10/2020 at 15:49:49
20 Posted 20/10/2020 at 06:02:05
I grew up on the streets around Goodison Park, and I now live in China.
Strategy and direction based around current players and existing fan communities makes sense. But longer term Everton needs to think about demographics and financial investment, and building radical new partnerships.
Partly through chance and children, Everton are the most popular team in the small expat community where I live. Maybe less by chance, my youngest son's football coach walks around wearing an LFC shirt. It does have a small but positive impact when a child insists on being an Evertonian in the playground and playing field.
I live in a growing port city of about 10 million people. There is no football team. There was a team, and they did wear blue. There is a small stadium, largely unused; this really could be a new Goodison Park in China with the right relationship building.
China is a huge opportunity for Everton. It needs the right partnership with the city, perhaps learning from the University of Nottingham approach. It needs investment in coaching and shirts and the sports bars.
China will host a World Cup, and it will be looking for football partners. China might host the World Cup as early as 2030. We are already beginning to see what might be the biggest and quickest investment in football infrastructure the world has ever seen.
Why isn't Everton looking to China?
22 Posted 20/10/2020 at 00:03:59
I think you are doing a disservice to US based blues in saying that there is a zero presence. Each week large groups of local fan clubs meet at ungodly hours in pubs in cities, across pretty much every state. Even NBC highlights the fan group pictures during halftime of our games who meet up at pubs.
23 Posted 21/10/2020 at 00:10:09
I've lived here 20 years and the only Blues fan I met started supporting Everton as he was a big fan of... wait for it... James Beattie. I've met a lot of fans here with a healthy respect for and knowledge of Everton but actual Everton fans? No.
24 Posted 24/10/2020 at 15:42:30
Currently the marketing end is not up to speed with the improvement of management on the playing end. it consists of press releases on Everton in the Community and updates on Stadium progress, normally when the playing side is not that great.
Old unsuccessful ideas such as satellite Clubs are put forward, but fall down on back up. The Billboard lights of Rodrigeouz in the Americas is a new innovation and Everton have some new sponsors, who seem to be better deals. But our Americain friends , North and South, raise the same issues as yourself.
The Marketing Dept is staffed with the same staff, but with fancier titles, probably with a change in their renumeration, given to them by the Chief Executive, about three years ago. On the supporters side I don't think there is anything other than the online shop. Use to be a Supporters Club years ago , but when I tried to join it twice in my 40's, I got twice a Goodison Shooters membership which was for the under 12s, the highlight was a colouring in book. But I don't think your son will even get that. Maybe Lyndon can do something for the Young Everton Supporters, many of the posters on this site are similar to myself, and probably have ask them. Most are wise enough on here not to raise the issue. The Evertonian mag is sadly defunct.
By Seriously, though I have been serious up to now, when you look at the Accounts it is glaring that revenue from marketing activities has to increase. On a positive note the fact that Everton has such a poor Marketing activities based Revenue, means they are not affected by Covid as much as other Clubs according to the Accounts.
I can't see the changes that you want not being on the agenda for much longer. The improvement on the playing end should provide the momentum for radical change in the Marketing Department.
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