Photo: Gregory Bolle, Head of Global Partnership at LaLiga (taken by Yutang Sports)
At the SportAccord 2018, we talked with Gregory Bolle, Head of Global Partnership at LaLiga, regarding LaLiga’s strategy on exploiting the commercial value of the league, engaging fans and sponsors.
Over the past years, LaLiga has never covered up its ambition on improving its commercial value. Last year, LaLiga president Javier Tebas expressed that the league expects to cut the gap with the Premier League and come close to matching its financial strength by 2020. When we asked about LaLiga’s plan to achieve this goal and its current progress, Bolle admitted that “we are on the road.”
“We have to remember that the Premier League started their commercialization fifteen years ago,” stated Bolle. But in his opinion, LaLiga is probably the most exciting or most fastest-growing football brand in the world.
According to Bolle, in the 2015/2016 season, 1.2 billion fans, globally, watched LaLiga games on TV. But when it came to the following season, LaLiga reached a 2.6 billion TV audience from all around the world. “I think this year we will reach a 3 billion audience for the first time,” said Bolle.
Bolle also gave us positive comments on LaLiga’s situation on social media and their financial position. In his eyes, LaLiga, its clubs and individual players are getting better and better on social media. Regarding financial matters, Bolle expressed that LaLiga has done a great job in terms of monitoring all the financial aspects of the clubs and found that most of the clubs in LaLiga are very profitable.
What’s more, Bolle also mentioned that the “LaLiga President has announced that a few clubs in LaLiga will enter the stock exchange for the first time”, which will show the wealth of the LaLiga.
What we need to admit is that every sporting league has to build its core competitiveness in terms of exploiting its commercial value. When we talked about the core competitiveness of LaLiga in terms of business development, Bolle emphasized, “I think the core competitiveness of LaLiga is LaLiga itself.”
“Today, LaLiga is the best league in the world,” stated Bolle, “We have the two best clubs in the world, Barcelona and Real Madrid. We have some clubs that are being followed and growing globally, such as Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia. We are lucky to have the two best football players in the world for the last ten years, Messi in Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo in Real Madrid.”
Meanwhile, Bolle believes that the rest of LaLiga’s competitiveness is the charm of Spanish football. “Spanish football is the most spectacular football in terms of tactics and technique. Overall, LaLiga is a super drama. It's always a super competition and it's true that fans from all over the world just love it,” Bolle told Yutang Sports.
On the road to exploiting LaLiga’s commercial value, it is the fan base that brings opportunities and challenges to the league.
“The opportunity is pretty simple. There is a very big demand. All the fans, all over the world are asking for more and more content from LaLiga,” answered Bolle.
As for the challenges, Bolle believes that the challenges that LaLiga has, are also the same challenge for any other brand. “People are always more demanding. Young people are always switching from one media to another media. So, as a global brand, we need to adapt to all the markets and make sure that we give the best quality to our fans. That's the biggest challenge and it's a good challenge to have.”
As of now, LaLiga has come up with a set of measures to cope with this situation. According to Bolle, the league wants to reach more fans through TV, try to engage them more on social media and try to have even more interaction through fantasy games and eSports.
In terms of exploiting the commercial value of a league “global expansion”, which relies on partnerships with sponsors from target markets to some extent, is also a key topic for discussion.
As Tebas told Yutang Sports at SportelAsia, China is LaLiga’s second market after Spain. Indeed, over the past years, more and more Chinese brands have become involved with LaLiga or its clubs. Bolle also expressed his opinion on this issue during the interview.
“It's pretty clear that Chinese brands are becoming more and more global. We know that LaLiga had a 2.6-billion audience last year. So when you want to have a global platform, you will use certainly football. And today, LaLiga is probably one of the most interesting platforms for any Chinese brand to work with, either with our clubs or with LaLiga itself,” stated Bolle.
On the other hand, Bolle believes that “the Chinese people are very strong businessmen”. “They understand that LaLiga is a brand which is growing very fast and they understand that the price is still very affordable,” added Bolle, “So I think Chinese brands will come more and more to LaLiga to capitalize on it.”
In terms of forming win-win partnerships with Chinese sponsors, Bolle explained what type of win-win partnership LaLiga really wants.
“For us, the win-win partnership is the following: Chinese brands can use the IP and the media asset of LaLiga. But on one condition, we respect and we make sure that the fans get the best of the experience of LaLiga, in terms of either reach, engagement or interaction. When it is done, we feel that the fans are winning, the Chinese brands are winning and LaLiga is winning. This is what we're looking for,” explained Bolle.
According to what Bolle told Yutang Sports during this interview, it is not hard to see that LaLiga is making every effort to exploit its commercial value. Will the financial goals set by Tebas be achieved by 2020? The answer is really worth waiting for.
Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick
(Video contains pre-roll advertisement)