It was one of the most watched football matches in London. The Valley was heaving with more than 27,000 fans, while a further 2.6 million people worldwide tuned in on social media sites such as YouTube to watch the proceedings unfold at Charlton Athletic’s home ground. All were treated to a 15-goal jamboree where logic gave way to chaos theory.
But no one on Charlton’s books took part. In fact, not one professional or semi-professional footballer, laced up that day because Sideman FC’s 8-7 win over YouTube All Stars was nothing more than a charity football match.
The viewings exceeded Charlton’s normal match attendance of 12,000 and smashed the average viewing of a regular championship match, which is 279,000.
These social media influencers are bringing a different age demographic to football. The average watcher of a YouTube video is 15-25 years old which is vastly different from the traditional football fan with a Sky Sports subscription, which is 55-year-olds and older.
This could be hugely beneficial to football, bringing in exposure and increasing its audience.
Sunday league YouTube team, Under the Radar FC had 227,000 people watching one of their reels on Instagram, showing it’s not just professional football that has an audience on social media but amateurs too.
YouTuber Chris MD’s recent video ‘Can 2 Youtubers beat 1 Premier League footballer?’ which gained a massive 2.2million views in 5 just months, gives people a different way of watching football. As well as this, Twitch superstar Ibai llanos has taken Spanish football by storm and managed to exclusively interview PSG star Lionel Messi on one of his livestreams which had over 317,000 people watching. La Liga have also permitted the Twitch creator to stream some league matches which has included teams such as Atletico Madrid and Valencia.
The commercial potential of social media and sport is being realised, with big retailers such as Specsavers and JD Sport getting involved by sponsoring the Sidemen charity match. YouTube brands are also getting involved. An example being Sidemen’s fast-food brand ‘Sides’ who are now sponsoring semi-professional side Farnham Town FC and featuring their logo on matchday shirts.
These YouTube sporting events are rare despite the interest from social media’s stars audience’s which is plain to see given the viewing figures.
The phenomenon is not limited to football. The other sport that is increasing viewership is YouTube boxing. While mainstream boxing continues to die a slow death, the sport is thriving in the YouTube community – but not in the way you’d expect. YouTube boxing has become massively popular, something that a number of traditional boxing fans don’t like.
KSI’s boxing company Misfits is trying to give YouTube boxing longevity so that it can survive beyond him. People want to see these types of boxing matches as it is more entertaining to watch for the YouTube audience.
KSI’s recent headlining boxing event at the O2, which saw him take part in two fights in one night, had a sell-out crowd and saw 230,000 depart with 15 pounds to watch the fights on DAZN. The fact that the bouts were shown on DAZN which shows professional boxing, indicates just how high the demand is for YouTube boxing currently.
Yesterday, DAZN and Misfits hosted another crossover boxing event headlining Jay Swingler who is returning to the ring after a four-year absence to fight fellow YouTuber Cherdleys in his second main event. Jay Swingler got a KO after the first round. This was another massive matchup between some new and old fighters in the YouTube boxing scene. The whole event was great as it had everything including KO’s and a unanimous decision.
Social media star Deji is fighting against boxing legend Floyd Mayweather in November and the media platform Global Titans hosting the event. This is mad to think about to think about as the two worlds are colliding and people would have never thought it was going to happen. This is one of the biggest events in the YouTube boxing scene as he is fighting against the legend in the boxing scene.
These types of events such as YouTube boxing and the football charity which was held by social media influencers are redefining the way people watch sport and how it is accessed and perceived. I think the younger generation are more interested in YouTube boxing than the traditional sport. Jake Paul has made a non-profit foundation called Boxing Bullies which is to instill self-confidence and confidence within young people through the sport of boxing. These influencers are inspiring others to get into the sport which will get more people watching this event.
These events could impact the sport as there will be more sponsorships and advertisement on these platforms.
Social media stars are helping grow the sports industry in a different way and it can get similar figures regularly in the future.