Sunday, February 19, 2012

MLS YouTube Engagement

In the past few weeks we have covered Twitter and Facebook for Major League Soccer Teams to see how they engage their fans. We will use these stats as a baseline to compare who makes the biggest gains this year and figure out why some clubs shine and others fall. All of this is done without a sense of competition, but more out of a sense that successful clubs who engage their fans, get more attention for MLS and soccer as a whole in the US and therefore indirectly bring more value to the games that we love as hopefully stadiums continue to sell out.

One caveat with these stats is the MLS site does not always use YouTube as the source video.  They use Microsoft Silverlight, therefore some teams may have high views on the MLS website that are not captured in these stats.

These stats were gathered in January 1, 2012, and as before we will start by tying them to the Metro Population as a way to reduce the impact size that a large or small metro may have on eyeballs checking out your team's content.

This first table is sorted by Metro Population (as described previously), so that you can see how the large cities generally outperform the smaller ones.  But you also can see some interesting anomalies here, like the San Jose Earthquakes getting 4 million views (which I'll explain in a bit.).  I took two basic stats for this table (views and subscribers).  In later editions I will also be including # of videos uploaded.

Here is the same table sorted by views.

The top 5 teams have a few different reasons why they are at the top of the list by raw numbers of views.
San Jose: Fluke goal. They have one video with 3.9M views.  And it deserves a lot of views.  SJ Goalies scores a goal in a friendly against West Bromwich. Take that away and they are a still respectable 8th on this table for a team that has not done to well with Twitter or Facebook.
Dallas: Moral outrage. Has one video with 300k views about cheerleaders, that seems to be getting negative attention because the dance team leader talked about testing them for body fat in tryouts.  Take that out and they still top 1M for a club that has not been a leader in attendance in a crowded local sports market. The majority of their other top views are from 3-4 years ago.
Vancouver: Sex sells. Has one video with 458k views.  Why so popular? It features their 2011 kit unveiling...being painted on a naked female. But again you take that away and they still have a near the top 800k views. and they are second in number of subscribers. So there is some success there. Probably helped with them being a new MLS club too.
Los Angeles Galaxy: Beckham Plus. The addition of many international stars and being near the top of most lists on social media engagement in MLS and the recent Supporter's Shied and MLS champs are cleary the reasons to see LAG so high.
Kansas City: Rebranding works. Plus a charismatic rookie serenading women's soccer most recognized personality helps to (405k views). Savvy marketing department helps get views beyond a smaller market. (Hometown bias a bit here, but they are onto something.) Plus it should be noted these counts do not include the Wizards96 You Tube Account (abandoned Nov 2010), which would add 750k views.

On the other hand, Toronto FC's pathetic showing here has a simple explanation: no videos.  Since their inception in 2007 they have contributed around 80 videos.  Vancouver meanwhile has almost 700 videos. Maybe TFC is using another platform? I cant find another explanation.

Now lets sort accounting for metro population to see if any new patterns emerge:
YT per 10k = (YouTube Views/Metro Pop)*10,000
So now the top 5 are slightly different. San Jose stays at the top with the popular Goal by Goalie video.  Vancouver with the smaller population shows how significant those 1.2M views are now.  KC stays near the top and moves up a few spots. And Real Salt Lake rockets up from 10th, similar to other big improvements on previous posts on Twitter and Facebook.
Biggest Winners: +6 Spots: Columbus 12->6, RSL 10->4
Biggest Losers: -7 spots: Chivas USA 7->14, New York 9->16

(Side note: if you wanted to calculate the YT Views per 10k for SJE, I already did it for you. 3,235 putting them in between SKC and RSL).

Having a lot of subscribers probably helps, but it didn't seem to tell a lot of stories so I did not incorporate it in the analysis except to show you.

So it pays to have at least one video go viral (hopefully for good reasons, not like FC Dallas), but as we go through the season I hope to be able to bring you other good tactics being utilized by teams using social media.  What patterns do you see?

If you would like access to this data on Google Docs or are interested in this project please email me at

I'll leave you with a great example of YouTube marketing from Sporting Kansas City to their fans for the 2011 Winter Holidays.


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