England’s campaign to qualify for next summer’s World Cup was fraught at times, but it came to a successful conclusion last week with home victories over Montenegro and Poland. The mood around the two matches was do-or-die, with England needing to win both games to guarantee qualification and avoid a tricky play-off tie. We tracked the online conversation around the two matches to see how far Twitter activity actually reflects the action on the pitch, and how fans, celebrities and players all jump online to join in with the buzz around a sporting event.
The game against Montenegro attracted 386,409 tweets, hitting a peak of 16,060 tweets per minute (TPM) as fans reacted to the goal scored by debutant and man of the match Andros Townsend.
Last Tuesday’s game against Poland was an altogether more tense affair, as is reflected in the higher tweet volumes. As England pressed for an opening goal in the first half, Townsend saw a powerful effort from outside the box rattle the crossbar. In response, 16,835 tweets were recorded in a minute: greater even than the reaction to his goal on Friday.
Townsend was mentioned a total of 87,386 times across Tuesday night, highlighted below:
372,063 unique users tweeted about the game against Poland, contributing to a total of 608,789 original tweets. On top of this is 271,056 retweets, with the most popular coming from Soccer Guy
, Joey Barton
, Footy Humour
, Micah Richards
and Jeremy Clarkson
The highest peak in TPM across both games came at 21.44 on Tuesday, as captain Steven Gerrard’s goal secured England’s place in Rio next summer beyond doubt. 14,249 of the 27,217 tweets in that minute mentioned Gerrard; 3,791 contained Stevie G; the word ‘legend’ appeared 850 times, and ‘captain’, ‘#captainfantastic’ and ‘skipper’ came up in 1,498 tweets.
At SecondSync we are continuing to develop tools to track the way in which people follow and comment on live sporting events via social media. Fans have always clambered to be as close as possible to the sporting action and their heroes; Twitter offers a unique online opportunity to do just that, providing immediate access to live interaction with millions of others and the biggest sports names. For the athletes it allows a great opportunity to engage with these people, but plenty of potential pitfalls as well.
Overall, the platform has opened up a huge new dimension to the broadcasting and reception of sport that broadcasters, clubs and brands are constantly looking to tap into. Sky Sports
last night launched a new service to post a video clip link to Twitter of goals almost immediately after they are scored, in an attempt to dominate the social conversation that forms around a sporting event and video highlights. We expect to see an explosion of innovation in this area around the World Cup next year, and in other sports where online activity is seen as an opportunity to further engage supporters.
by Eliot Brammer