- Dugout, a global social network for soccer fans, is entering the U.S. market through a content partnership with Sports Illustrated, the magazine's parent company Maven announced. The collaboration will let mobile users see behind-the-scenes videos of more than 100 soccer clubs, leagues and organizations.
- Dugout distributes more than 2,500 soccer videos every month, racking up 1.84 billion views on its website and network of more than 85 publishers worldwide last year. Popular teams including A.C. Milan, Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are co-owners of Dugout.
- The collaboration with Sports Illustrated, which also covers Canada, comes as Dugout aims to boost its monthly views to more than 1 billion from about 400 million currently, Elliot Richardson, co-founder of Dugout, said in the statement.
Dugout's entry into the U.S. through a collaboration with Sports Illustrated aims to connect with soccer fans who use their smartphones to view sports-related programming, even as the coronavirus pandemic prevents many sports leagues from hosting live games. As lockdowns lift and soccer teams are able to resume play, Dugout and Sports Illustrated can help U.S. soccer fans to connect with their favorite teams and players.
The health crisis led to an 83% drop in programmatic ad sales for sports-related apps in March, according to ad fraud management platform Pixalate, but much of that revenue can recover as soon as sports leagues resume play. Before the pandemic, global spending on sports sponsorships had been forecast to grow 5% to $48.4 billion this year.
Dugout's expansion in the U.S. could be significant for Major League Soccer (MLS), which in 2017 partnered with the soccer-focused social network to expand its reach worldwide, The Drum reported. Like other sports organizations, MLS has faced disruptions from the pandemic. Dugout and Sports Illustrated's collaboration likely will get a lift when play resumes both domestically and worldwide.
As an indication of the major demand for sports programming among homebound fans, the NFL last month experienced a 16% gain in viewership to a record high for its annual draft that was revamped into a virtual format. The three-day event, which was broadcast on several TV networks and livestreamed on their mobile apps, drew participation from more than 100 brands including Lowe's, Bud Light Seltzer, Pizza Hut and Verizon. The NFL also experienced significant engagement on viral video app TikTok, which livestreamed a simulcast of the league's COVID-19 relief fundraiser.