Europe’s top soccer outfits are supported by packed stadiums, week-in, week-out. However, it is interesting to explore how these teams fare globally when it comes to online fan engagement and commercial revenue and which European club receives the most support.
The Growth of Soccer
Online fan engagement can be measured in a number of ways, but social media impressions and stream searches for fixtures are one of the better ways. Soccer is a global game and is rapidly becoming even more popular across the world. With new fans and the ability to support a team half a world away, there is a vast choice when it comes to selecting your favorite team.
This infographic shows the growth of soccer in the United States. From it, we can see that the sport is growing rapidly; it is now the nation’s favorite sport besides football and basketball surpassing baseball. The growth of the sport in North America has had a huge impact on the support of European clubs.
The United States is large in terms of population, fanbases, and spending and the impact it has on European clubs, both in terms of social media and commercial aspects is considerable.
In terms of social media engagement, El Classico rivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona led the pack by a long distance. Both have over 100 million followers on Instagram and Facebook with the team from the capital leading overall with 109 million on the former and 111 million on the latter platform.
As a result of both having huge followings, they receive an impressive range of engagement in the form of comments, shares, and likes on their content. This is largely due to the culture of the clubs; they employ many South American footballers and so the South American region is very fixated on the two clubs.
In terms of the strongest Premier League team in terms of social media, Manchester United are comfortably on top despite their trophy drought and inconsistency in recent years. The Red Devils have 54.5 million followers on Instagram and 74 million on Facebook which is impressive but does not compete with the Spanish clubs.
Madrid and Barca certainly hold a huge monopoly over online support, but how do they compare commercially? Does their online interest translate into huge revenue streams?
Before comparing commercial revenue, it is important to remember that sponsorships contribute to this form of income. In fact, there is an argument that the size of a club’s brand is a direct result of fan support commercially, and it is this which leads to the most lucrative sponsorships.
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According to the Deloitte Football Money League 2022, Bayern Munich recorded the highest revenue total of $331 million which was largely aided by the Audi sponsorship deal. Real Madrid are third in the list at $308 million showing their online fan support correlates to their commercial income.
Madrid only just trail Bayern and Paris Saint Germain – the latter largely owed to the success of the PSG Jordan brand which is popular amongst people that are not even fans of the club. Barcelona trail Manchester City in 5th place.
It can clearly be concluded that Real Madrid are the most heavily supported club in the world and their social media figures directly correlate to commercial income.