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February 15, 2023updated 16 Feb 2023 11:16am

Footballco plans to cash in on growth of video breaking news via social media

Footballco had a "great year" financially in 2022 and is preparing to grow further in the UK.

By Bron Maher

Goal publisher Footballco, which claims to be the largest football media brand in the world, had a “great year” financially in 2022 and sees breaking more news via video as central to its plans for this year.

The company’s senior vice president of content and creative, James Lamon, told Press Gazette Footballco was pursuing a “cross-platform” strategy in which it can “harvest and curate that news wherever it’s happening”.

Goal claims some 64 million unique users a month and 300 million video views a month on social media.

The site has 15 full-time editorial staff in the UK alongside a freelance pool of ten. Across parent company Footballco, there are “close to 100” staff in the UK according to Lamon, and nearly 400 employees globally.

The week before the men’s World Cup started in November Footballco appointed its first dedicated managing editor for Goal in the UK, Joe Strange. Strange joined after nearly a decade working for Mail Online, most recently as deputy sports editor.

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Lamon said that Strange’s appointment represented “a pivot where news is breaking on social media increasingly not as a tweet, but as a video. And we see that behaviour among fans – that’s where they’re at.

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“And what Joe brings is a native understanding of this and how to harvest and curate that news wherever it’s happening – in the traditional newswire places but also everywhere else. And then making sure that we’re aligned in our coverage so that we can break news on Tiktok but then cover it on our masthead immediately and vice versa.”

Lamont described Footballco’s approach as “cross-platform”, privileging neither the goal.com website nor social media as the primary stream of content.

According to Strange, “social and video is absolutely massive” for Goal, and gave as an example the success it has had with player-led video content.

“We believe that fans are mainly interested in the players as people – not always necessarily what they’re doing on the pitch, but what kind of characters they are off it as well.

Joe Strange, managing editor of Goal UK
Goal’s new UK managing editor, Joe Strange. Picture: Footballco

“Player-led video has been absolutely huge for us… We do a ‘Box 2 Box’ series where they open up boxes with items referring to moments in their past or particularly great or hard moments in their careers on the pitch. And we’ve had some absolutely massive wins with that.”

Footballco says it has had more than 125 million views on its player-led video content, with most views coming from Instagram and Tiktok.

[Read more: Declan Rice signs for Goal – Player-led video strategy launched]

Lamon said Footballco intends to grow in the UK: “We have a few live roles right now, in fact. This is a priority market for us. The Premier League has the largest readership of any football league in the world… and so it’s important that of course we are very strong here in the UK so that we can do a great job covering the League for football fans around the world.”

The company is in a position to grow because, unlike some news publishers, it had a robust 2022 financially. 

“As far as business revenues we had a great year last year,” Lamon said. “It was a World Cup year, a World Cup in Q4. It’s true that the broader media story is not so rosy right now, but because of the cycle of football… we’ve been able to expand and we are continuing to focus on providing more great news and content to our readers.”

Heading out of Premier League season, Strange said: “We’ll be gearing up to bring in some changes, probably from a content perspective, in terms of how we cover the game, what our live coverage looks like, but also from a product perspective.

“So for example, during the men’s World Cup in November [and] December we had a new widget on site, which provides users with live stats and live match commentaries. We’re bringing that back actually next week for the Champions League, and that’s something that we’ll continue to use. And hopefully we’ll have that available for the women’s World Cup as well.”

Part of that would involve sending content creators from Indivisa, Footballco’s social-first brand focused on women’s football.

[Read more: Footballco targets growing popularity of women’s game with social-first brand Indivisa]

Interest in women’s football, Strange said, “has never been higher, attendances at Women’s Super League games are better and they’re playing more and more games at the senior men’s stadiums as opposed to elsewhere. So we’re really focused on that, we’re gonna be sending out staff to the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.”

Alongside content, Lamon said diversifying revenues was a major focus for the business.

“Some of the hires we’re making, the growth we’re doing, is on what we call the shopping desk – working on products, working on events.”

A redesign to the Goal app, deployed ahead of the men’s World Cup, was representative of those changes.

Lamon said his favourite feature of the new app was that “you can follow not just your favourite clubs, but your favourite players, and then that becomes integrated into one feed of news.

“And why we think this is important is because we see that a lot of people care about specific players… the team is suddenly less important.”

This feature also had a commercial logic, with a feature called Footballco ID helping to build profiles of football fans “and what they’re reading and what they like.

“This is used in a few different ways – one, to make the website run, but also it’s something that’s useful for advertising partners so we can understand fan behaviours and interests, and that part of what we offer them is, in a consultative way, really understanding your fans and their intent.”

Footballco says it has built up 191 million individual Footballco IDs from consenting visitors.

“People think football’s tribal – you’re a Man U fan or you’re a Chelsea fan – but we think that there’s a lot more rich layers to that story, and Footballco ID is a data layer that helps us tell that story and understand that people are retro kit enthusiasts, or they’re boot snobs, or they’re five-a-side obsessives.”

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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