In the US fans go crazy for major sports’ Drafts, but over the pond in Europe, and in particular the UK fans, go crazy for the Football/Soccer equivalent – Transfer Deadline Day. English Premier League fan or not, this is a huge day where players coming in and out make an impact on your favorite teams upcoming season.
With a growing interest year after year for this event , fans have only be able to get all live action from one place, Sky Sports. But, this year a new player arrived, Ball Street, where fans were offered a FREE four-hour, online alternative.
Ball Street was co-founded by football fans Matt Wilson (former sales director at talkSPORT and Sport Magazine) and Stuart McDonald. These two guys identified that football fans of teams outside of the top six clubs in the English Premier League weren’t being catered to by the media. Having creating the initial concept, Ball Street teamed up with Caj Sohal (former head of football at the BBC) and a team of producers who have worked with the likes of ESPN, 5Live and talkSPORT.
A New Twist To English Premier League Coverage
Ball Street will utilise the power of social media to shape the channel:
“Ball Street started on Twitter and is now a community in action.” Explains Co-Founder Matt Wilson, “Ball Street has become shaped by the wants and needs of ALL football fans. We use our passion, skills and experience in sports media to deliver something different to what’s on offer on traditional TV or digital at the moment.”
Former Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Celtic, West Ham and Burnley footballer Ian Wright, who is featured in the video above, was an early supporter of the Ball Street vision and is now very much part of the channel as both a talent and shareholder.
“Above all else, Ball Street is a group of fans that are passionate about the cause and passionate about digital.” Co-Founder Stuart McDonald explains “As fans of teams such as Huddersfield, Luton, Forest, Rangers and Leeds we believe in better coverage for all teams”.
Ball Street worked with Google on live YouTube programming around the UEFA Champions League Final and is one of a handful of football digital pioneers challenging the status quo. Ball Street launched with YouTube football magazine show Four Five One and have also worked in partnership with Wembley Stadium.
Ball Street’s Impact
Some big numbers were bandied about on transfer deadline day. For example, Premier League clubs spent over £630 million on players this summer, but one number that you might have missed comes from digital football start-up Ball Street.
Ball Street’s ‘Transfer Deadline Live’ had 186,000 unique users and a peak of 15,000 concurrent viewers for its free, four-hour ‘over the top’ digital alternative for deadline day. Ball Street teamed up with leading football sites and blogs and the show, with Arsenal legend Ian Wright and Radio One’s Nihal. The program was also a hit on Twitter and with the in-studio audience of fans, journalists and football talent.
How Ball Street’s EPL Coverage Is Different
Live statistical analysis on the night was provided by Squawka. As for analysis, the show featured contributions from sports writer Barry Glendenning, author Jonathan Wilson and footballing talents like Clinton Morrison, Adebayo “The Beast” Akinfenwa and Leon McKenzie. FA Cup lead partner Budweiser provided beers for the fans in the audience.
“We proved that you don’t need lavish studios, satellite trucks and big budgets to generate and entertain a live audience”, explains Matt Wilson, co founder. “The ‘over the top’ space is about ideas and collaboration. Together with like-minded brands and publishers we will continue to break new ground and challenge what the traditional industry leaders do.”
Co-founder Stuart McDonald: “We had to turn down sites and publishers who wanted to stream our content due to the high demand and we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible for publishers and advertisers”.
This News Source Is Here To Stay
Anchorfan, Social Sports News, reported on the digital coverage around deadline day and said:
“With fans still captivated by the closing of the transfer window and second, third and fourth screens becoming increasingly important, expect to see more of the likes of Ball Street capitalise on producers keen to make the most of potential of digital platforms and the power of social networks’ ‘word of mouth’ shareability.”
As Stuart McDonald says, They have only scratched the surface of what is possible, I personally will be looking forward to what can be done next year and where the digital world can take sports.