In an exclusive conversation with World Football Summit, Patricia Peiró Hergueta, CSO at Telecoming, our Conference Partner for WFS Africa 2022 discusses their role in helping football clubs monetize the support from their fans with a particular focus on:
How they help football properties monetize from the support of their fans
The 3 pillars of an optimal monetization strategy and why mobile-first experiences will be a source of competitive advantages in the African regions.
Lessons they have learned from working with top clubs like Real Madrid, PSG, or more recently, RSC Anderlecht
The future of monetization in web3 and much more!
“Fans are no longer passive spectators; they are hungry for other experiences beyond the 90 minutes.”
WFS: Can you describe what Telecoming is, why the sports industry needs it and why now?
Patricia: Telecoming is a tech company that develops mobile experiences for large sports organizations. We offer solutions and services to enhance, monetize and digitize the relationship between fans and sports.
We believe that fans own the power in the sports industry, so we imagine outstanding digital experiences for them. With this idea in mind, since 2008, we develop the best sports information and entertainment services to consume from mobile.
Sports organizations must take advantage of fans’ emotional connection with their teams through the creative activation of content. Telecoming plays a key role in offering brand experiences for their fans to retain and monetize this audience.
WFS: Traditionally, football clubs have excelled at building fan communities around the world but have not been able to fully monetize from their support. How can they tackle this problem?
Patricia: As I said, fans are any club’s economic and social capital. Monetizing this audience through new channels is interesting for any soccer club because these are new revenue streams.
Clubs have successfully developed many business lines, such as ticketing, broadcasting, and merchandising. However, today the mobile economy offers them a new opportunity, a new way to monetize communities. What we call “mobile consumption” has great potential for sports organizations. and Telecoming has proven experience with top international clubs and much to contribute to the sector.
We have also understood that dual-screen consumption is a reality, but the user on the second screen demands a complementary experience to traditional broadcasting. Fans are no longer passive spectators; they are hungry for other experiences beyond the 90 minutes of a soccer match.
WFS: Sports fans are consuming more sports content than ever before. Assuming “content” is the key to connecting with them, how do football properties take the next step and earn revenues from it?
Patricia: More than content, fans are looking for something more differential. Specifically, they are demanding an experience of personalization, social content, spaces where they can interact and become content creators of the club they love, etc. This requires technological developments focused on offering this collaborative experience.
Clubs, as content owners, have the opportunity to build above these productions, new digital experiences. But they need the technology that allows them to offer something different and consolidate it as a new business line. To be able to deliver what fans are demanding, clubs have to rely on partners like Telecoming, experts in the development of these mobile experiences.
WFS: What would be the 3 pillars that enable monetization opportunities for football clubs?
Patricia: No one can question that clubs are doing well, and during this era, they are taking on the great challenge of entering the so-called “mobile economy,” just like other sectors. This is a different consumption pattern because the user browses a 6-inch screen, and the offer must be adapted to that user experience.
Sports fans have fascinating characteristics from a business perspective. They are looking for exclusivity while at the same time they want to share. They are looking for information but also entertainment. They want to be part of a team and differentiate themselves from others.
More advanced sports consumers are also used to paying for content they are passionate about. In fact, sports were the first paid content on TV because it was perceived as something premium. In addition, mobile users do all this from a single device that combines consumption, payment, and conversation.
WFS: It seems that “mobile payments” is a technology that is becoming more and more accepted across industries and markets. Is this true of football properties as well?
Patricia: Of course. Mobile payments are well established in different territories and Africa is a very advanced region in this regard. Clubs that decide to offer mobile experiences on the African continent have a competitive advantage over other parts of the world: users are used to paying for everything with their cell phones. In fact, Africa is one of the territories with the most mobile payment-savvy population.
However, the ecosystem is somewhat different. Telecom operators are very well positioned in the payments market. They have taken over many functions natural to banks in other regions, such as Europe. This is nothing but an opportunity for clubs that want to get into m-commerce.
“Mobile consumption has not reached its peak”
WFS: In the particular case of mobile payments, what is the major evolution you have noticed from a fan perspective or football clubs in terms of the “acceptance of the technology“?
Patricia: The fan is a modern user who carries everything on his mobile device. He holds his cards, agenda, communications device, and much more! Not taking them out of this mobile environment is fantastic because you offer them an experience they consume, find, and pay for on the device they are always carrying. This only can be done if you integrate Direct Carrier Billing as the preferred payment tech.
From our point of view, mobile consumption has not reached its peak; there is still room for this consumption model to continue growing. For example, according to GSMA data, the mobile industry’s contribution to GDP in the Middle East and North Africa will be more than $276B and more than $155B for Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.
WFS: At the end of the day, you sell convenience for the end user as they can make payments through their phone bill directly, correct? And, if that is the case, what are the main barriers you notice that make football clubs hesitant to adopt this technology?
Patricia: The distribution model we propose is very consolidated in other industries, such as gaming or video-on-demand. In the specific case of the sports world, it still has a long way to go.
The creation and commercialization of Direct Carrier Billing’s sports services have been successful in international leading clubs such as Real Madrid or PSG, with whom we partner. In Africa, we are developing services for local clubs, and I am sure fans will receive them just as well.
Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) is the ideal payment model for the mobile economy. It’s simple, secure, and has the highest penetration in the world. The big brands are discovering it and are already aware of its outstanding performance.
WFS: You work with amazing football clubs like Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, Benfica… What are some key lessons that you have learned from working with them that others in the industry can also learn from?
Patricia: These clubs have understood that, in addition to video-on-demand services and their traditional broadcasting business, there are many business opportunities in the experiences that Telecoming is creating. These experiences are directly related to fan engagement and are technology-oriented to monetize and strengthen the relationship between fans and clubs.
The services we develop for the clubs are getting more sophisticated (they include podcasts, exclusive official creations, sections with artificial intelligence to personalize the experiences, etc…) and are more complete.
This wide portfolio of experiences is increasing their mobile community and, therefore, their revenues.
WFS: Are there any key steps that football clubs need to take when launching a project that involves new tech like “mobile payments” or even a project with your business?
Patricia: Soccer clubs that want to enter this sector must recognize that they are not tech developers and need a partner. If they embark on this journey, they should keep in mind that the race has already begun and that the time to market is crucial. It is most profitable to trust a reliable and expert partner like Telecoming, which can create mobile experiences and offer solutions and services to improve, monetize and digitize the relationship with their fans.
WFS: Would you agree web 3 technology is the key to monetizing from the support of loyal fans? Some experts say that web2 was great to build an audience and web3 is the way to earn revenues from it…
Patricia: The decentralized web offers new monetization possibilities to explore. Sport is a sector that is very well placed in the field of NFTs because it has been able to use the emotional relationship that the user has with the industry. NFTs have allowed the user to own iconic moments and productions of their club. There are already great projects built on web3, however, we believe that there are many opportunities yet to be developed.
WFS: Is Telecoming working on any Web 3 initiatives that you can share?
Patricia: Yes, at Telecoming, we are working on NFT projects, more focused on collectibles than tokens.
WFS: Where is the vision for 5 to 10 years from now for the business?
Patricia: We truly believe that future generations will impose different consumption models. Subscription is one of them due to its sustainable, practical, and multi-device nature. These users are mobile first but not mobile-only; they have new interests and are short-form content consumers. They are also natural creators of digital works, and active parts of virtual communities.
Most of all, they are always connected.
The soccer industry needs to start looking at this group as one of the key growth levers of the future and at Telecoming, we are happy to join them in this adventure.
“Football clubs that decide to offer mobile experiences on the African continent have a competitive advantage over other parts of the world”
WFS: What are your expectations for WFS Africa?
Patricia: WFS Africa is an exceptional opportunity for Telecoming to meet the main stakeholders of African soccer. We look to understand the moment clubs go through and develop agreements to create differential mobile experiences. We want to take advantage of the high mobile penetration in the region where we have been operating since 2015. We are well aware of the dynamism of the African market and the opportunities we can create together with soccer clubs.
This interview is featured in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practices from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.