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The Disruptive Strategist: The Kings League

Digital Platforms are disrupting many industries including sports. David Goodman writes on The Kings League, brainchild of FC Barcelona legend Gerard Piqué, which is disrupting traditional football and using social media platforms for ready-made distribution.

23 November 2023

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In an era when traditional TV viewership for football is declining, the Kings League represents a paradigm shift in sports entertainment. Using an innovative tournament model, it blends elements from e-Sports with conventional football to offer a distinctive fusion of sports and technology-driven entertainment. An exciting spin on an old format, not surprisingly it has captured the attention and engagement of younger audiences, potentially transforming sports broadcasting.

Disrupting traditional football

In 2022, FC Barcelona legend Gerard Piqué noticed a change in the way his children watched football through social media channels, most notably forwarding the action to accommodate their short attention spans and craving more fast-paced content. Spotting an opportunity, Piqué embarked on a mission to reimagine traditional football and make it more entertaining for a younger audience.

Piqué and his partners invited amateur football players to apply online to play in a new 7-a-side league. He received an overwhelming response of more than 11,000 applicants. In addition, Piqué and his partners collaborated with fans to create a fresh set of rules that would invigorate the game, introducing innovative elements that challenge conventional norms. These included:

7-on-7 amateur football: A smaller team format ensures more action-packed gameplay.

Unlimited substitutions: Players can be substituted at any time during matches.

Expanded rosters: Each team boasts 12 players along with two guest players.

Shortened indoor field: The compact field amplifies intensity and excitement.

Penalty box for cards: Red and yellow cards come with specific penalty box durations.

Sunday showdowns: All games take place exclusively on Sundays – the ultimate day for soccer enthusiasts.

 

Secret weapons unleashed

An innovative strategic twist adds suspense and unpredictability. Bonuses include instant penalties, temporary removal of players, double points for goals within a minute, stealing the opposition’s card, and a joker card for any of the four bonuses. These rule changes bring excitement and unpredictability to every match.

Here’s the genius – the power of streamer partnerships

Perhaps The Kings League’s smartest move resides in its distribution strategy. Unlike traditional soccer structures, Piqué and his partners opted for a streamer ownership model, with matches livestreamed on social media.

This is attracting a new generation of football fans. By partnering with popular streamers who boast millions of followers on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, the league has garnered an impressive fan base of 13 million.

The Kings League’s social media presence is a testament to its success:

Twitch: 2.9 million followers

YouTube: 718,000 subscribers

TikTok: 6.3 million followers

Instagram: 2.3 million followers

Twitter: 801,600 followers

This clever approach allows fans from all around the world to watch matches for free.

 

Gone are the days of cable TV subscriptions or costly streaming packages – now everyone can enjoy the exhilarating action through the Kings League’s social media channels. The league also collaborates with streamers to simulcast matches on their channels without any commercial interruptions.

Monetising the vision

In the era of digitisation, the potential of monetising streamer partnerships is vast and untapped. The league is leveraging the power of microtransactions, ie encouraging fans to show support for their favourite teams and players through small financial contributions during live streams. These can come in the form of virtual gifts, paid emojis or premium subscriptions.

Looking forward, there are likely to be plenty of opportunities to host exclusive pay-per-view events. While regular matches are free to watch, certain high-stakes games or behind the scenes events might be ticketed, allowing for an extra revenue stream.

Finally, never underestimate the power of merchandise. The league already capitalises on its popularity by selling branded gear and apparel. It collaborates with streamers to create limited edition merchandise, which can generate a sense of exclusivity and urgency that drives sales.

The goal is not just to monetise but to deepen the engagement between fans, streamers and the league. When done in the right way, monetisation can enhance the overall fan experience, creating a win-win situation for all involved parties.

A new era for sport

Piqué’s vision is not just revolutionising how football is played – it is the poster child for transforming sport itself. With its captivating gameplay and strategic partnerships, The Kings League has become a phenomenon that is captivating both die-hard fans and casual viewers alike. But what sets this league apart from others?

The answer almost certainly lies in it going beyond being just another sports event; it offers an experience that resonates deeply with today’s generation.

  1. A fusion of sports and entertainment: The Kings League combines top-tier football skills with the infectious energy and entertainment value of popular streamers.
  2. Inclusivity at its core: By embracing digital platforms as distribution channels, the league ensures that anyone passionate about football can join in on the excitement.
  3. Unleashing creativity: The collaboration between players, fans and streamers cultivates an environment where creativity thrives, enriching the game with unique and unexpected moments.
  4. A global community: The Kings League transcends geographical boundaries, uniting fans from all corners of the world under a shared passion for soccer and digital entertainment.

Reinventing sport for the digital age

The Kings League is reinventing football and set to redefine sports in the digital age. With innovative gameplay, strategic partnerships and free accessibility on various platforms, the league has captured millions worldwide.

As we stand at the precipice of this new era, it is worth contemplating that every traditional sport is primed for innovation. The disruption sparked in football serves as a guiding light, illuminating the way to a reimagined sports landscape.

Bending to the digital age, all sports are ready to be reinvented, ready to be disrupted. It is more than a change, it is a metamorphosis that will redefine how we play, connect, inspire, and grow. The world is ready. Are you?

Important disclosures and information
The information contained herein is given for information purposes only and does not qualify as investment advice. Opinions and assessments contained herein may change and reflect the point of view of GAM in the current economic environment. No liability shall be accepted for the accuracy and completeness of the information contained herein. Past performance is no indicator of current or future trends. The mentioned financial instruments are provided for illustrative purposes only and shall not be considered as a direct offering, investment recommendation or investment advice or an invitation to invest in any GAM product or strategy. Reference to a security is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. The securities listed were selected from the universe of securities covered by the portfolio managers to assist the reader in better understanding the themes presented. The securities included are not necessarily held by any portfolio nor represent any recommendations by the portfolio managers nor a guarantee that objectives will be realized.

This material contains forward-looking statements relating to the objectives, opportunities, and the future performance of the U.S. market generally. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of such words as; “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “should,” “planned,” “estimated,” “potential” and other similar terms. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, estimates with respect to financial condition, results of operations, and success or lack of success of any particular investment strategy. All are subject to various factors, including, but not limited to general and local economic conditions, changing levels of competition within certain industries and markets, changes in interest rates, changes in legislation or regulation, and other economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory and technological factors affecting a portfolio’s operations that could cause actual results to differ materially from projected results. Such statements are forward-looking in nature and involve a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, and accordingly, actual results may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in such forward-looking statements. Prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements or examples. None of GAM or any of its affiliates or principals nor any other individual or entity assumes any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, subsequent events or any other circumstances. All statements made herein speak only as of the date that they were made.

David Goodman

Investment Manager
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