It’s unlikely that many football (soccer for our American friends) fans will have heard about the Ball Street Network, but, you’ve almost certainly come across one of their channels or creators. Cult followings for the likes of True Geordie and The Redmen TV have seen their viewership rival that of some of the biggest publishers in the sports space, attracting big-name sponsors like OneFootball, EA Sports, and EPIC Games.
While fan content has been gathering momentum in the last few years, Ball Street has taken this to another level, delivering colossal audiences around some of the biggest sporting events. During this year’s UEFA Champions League Final, they delivered 3.3 million views on their live streaming commentary with Coral, surpassed only (just) by official Champions League sponsor and media partner, BT Sport. The gulf between the Ball Street Network and BT in budget and capacity is staggering. How are they competing with – and often outperforming – such large and established channels?
For their creative team, the devil is in the data. When creating content or expanding their influencer network, their key metrics are those beyond the ‘view’. Tubular influencer scores and engagement rates help them to ensure the success of their content, validating new strategies, and fostering an audience affinity arguably unmatched in the space.
It’s those new strategies that have been driving the most interesting results. XO, their latest channel, has been at the forefront of that work. Launching in February, the channel has already registered over 24m views, but again, it’s how the XO is driving engagement that’s the big success story.
Hailed as ‘the dream team’ of creators, XO boasts sky-high engagement rates – with historic data from Tubular Labs helping identify those key players, helping XO hit the ground running. This data-driven approach is already paying off. Tubular data from their most recent videos put their YouTube ER30 (engagement rate in the first 30 days) at almost 5x the YouTube benchmark, a testament to their work over the last six months.
“It’s always been a challenge to read the numbers on any social media platform and fit them to a creative piece,” says Head of Content, Adam Boultwood. “Tubular is beginning to give us more insight into audience dynamics, what works and what we can improve. The trick is to be as objective as possible, rather than finding numbers to fit your narrative.”
XO’s success isn’t going unnoticed by brands looking to make the most of such high engagement rates – they’ve already partnered with the likes of Nike, Adidas, Beats and EA Sports.
Recent work with OneFootball stands out not just across the Ball Street Network, but across the wider industry, reaching x7 times the engagement of similar sponsored content, with 10% of all views resulting in a like or comment. For OneFootball, as sponsors, it’s clear proof that they’re reaching a heavy engaged audience – proof that helps XO during the pitch.
XO’s work with EA Sports shows how smart integration can help both partner and sponsor. Christian Hurley, Head of Strategy notes “it’s so helpful when you’re talking to an agency or a brand that isn’t as familiar with our proposition or the industry. Insights like those from Tubular can be an invaluable tool when it comes to educating people about our true value.”
So, what’s next for the heavy hitting sports challenger?
“The space has transformed so quickly in the last few years, it’s easy to forget that we’re only five years old. Digital years can feel a bit like dog years, and the XO project is a perfect example of the vast expertise we’ve acquired in an incredibly short space of time. As far as the future is concerned, it’s really about ensuring that our entire network of creators continue to grow, evolve and move with the times.”
For a young company that’s used to delivering mature results, it’s a typically wise perspective.