The ranking takes into account clubs’ combined following on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, Google + and YouTube in order to quantify each club’s digital community – their cumulative following across digital media.
The results, at the top are hardly surprising. The biggest European football clubs are a long way ahead of the rest, with Barcelona and Real Madrid heading the pile very comfortably indeed. The geographical divide would have been obvious without this undertaking, but the differences are stark: Turkish football club Galatasaray are the first club outside of Europe’s top five leagues to feature, whilst Corinthians of Brazil are the first non-European club, coming in at 15th.
The Brazilian side’s 19m-strong combined following is more than ten times smaller than that of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and whilst that shows the geographical divide is pronounced, it also shows that the concentration of power lies with just a handful of clubs. If Real Madrid and Barcelona have ten times the audience of the 15th placed club, that shows the scale of the disparity. You don’t even have to go down as far as 100th place to find a 2m follower audience, 100 times smaller than Spain’s Clasico twosome.
And yet, in the end, these are pretty widely seen as vanity metrics these days. Having a big audience is certainly no bad thing, but the more important question will always be is it an engaged one? Just having a few million followers doesn’t really mean anything other than the small pat on the back you get for winning at Facebook.
But Mario Leo, founder of RESULT Sports, doesn’t think cooing over how many followers a football club can boast is the only reason for producing the study.
“The Global Benchmarking study fulfills two (critical) aspects,”he says. “First of all, it provides a single source to compare teams on different continents, and shows where the global digital football leaders stand. And secondly, [and this] is probably much more unrecognised, we share the status of the technology ‘battle’ [which is] happening in the background!”
Saudi Pro Leaguehas four representatives in the Top 150 clubs. The leader in the GCC region (a digital community with more than 10 mio followers) is Al Hilal at the 28th position. The second team is Al Ittihad (more than 3 mio followers) at the 63rd positon, followed by Al Nassr (2,5 mio followers) at the 79th position and at the end, Al- Ahli (1,7 mio followers) at the 105th global position.