Last month saw one of the most anticipated days in the football league calendar take place, the release of the 2014/15 season fixtures.
The Sky Bet Championship, Sky bet League 1 and 2 fixtures were revealed at 9am across all club websites on Wednesday 18th June. The clamor to get this information first led to nearly 2.5m page views in 24 hours!
A whole series of stats saw a record breaking day for the Football League on digital. The league and its technology partners, Sapient Nitro, Perform Group, Scribble Live and Akamai worked closely together to ensure fans got all the news and info they would need across multiple devices and in time. This led to some interesting stats;
- 1,002,228 unique visitors across club sites and football-league.com
- This was a 30% increase on the 736,993 on the same day in 2013
- Total page views were up 75% to 2,411,426
- Fans spent on average 2 minutes on their mobile, compared with 30 seconds last year
- Nearly 674k views on mobile, an increase of 135%
So what led to these dramatic increases? We caught up quickly with the Football League’s Digital Director Russell Scott to find out more. One of main questions was how they managed to increase time fans spent on mobile so dramatically. It turns out there were two key changes that have taken place during the last year;
1. Content, and loads of it. The volume of content produced by clubs over the last 12 months has more than doubled, quite simply twice as much for fans to look at. More importantly the clubs use of content schedules and live blogging have enabled them to produce more engaging content that entertains fans and keeps them coming back for more.
2. We recently launched a new mobile site for all clubs. A simple responsive site that focuses on surfacing a large amount of short-form scrollable shareable content. The change is having a significant impact on user behavior, frequency of visit is growing steadily and user numbers are climbing significantly (YoY growth of around 40% last month). Clearly this again underpinned by the great content clubs are publishing. Of particular note are the clubs who schedule in early morning news every day, fans quickly learn that visiting the club site before 8 in the morning is a rewarding experience and we see overall mobile audience grow.
— Russell Scott (@RussellScott) June 18, 2014
Fixture release day is the biggest day for football; club websites, with transfer deadline days being the only other dates that generate a similar amount of traffic. Thus it’s key to getting it right and all the partners have a role to play in it.
Sapient Nitro planned a key role in ensuring that all the fixtures were released at exactly 9am across all 90 club sites in one go with no delay, as well as planning to manage a high capacity audience (peaked at over 60k concurrent users just after 9am).
Scribble Live was used to power the club wall page or a dedicated fixture release live blog embedded in an article on each club site. Enabling clubs to publish immediate reaction to the fixtures and then follow that with views from others in the club, fans and pull content from social media.
Meanwhile, Perform published the fixtures across football-league.com and ensured all references in the Player product were updated. And the Akamai platform was used to manage content delivery and ensure site speed was high even under the high variable number of users. A true team effort!
“The day of the fixtures release is always the biggest day of the year for club websites so we’re delighted to breaks records once again. The Football League interactive network of 90 clubs across the Premier League, Football League and Football Conference has once again demonstrated the great strength of all these clubs working together.”
It sounds like there are more plans afoot for the new season, which I hope to catch up with Russell and speak to him about for the site in the next few weeks.