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RFL’s Our League named as a finalist at the Sports Business Awards

Our League, the Rugby Football League’s membership scheme for fans, players, coaches, volunteers and viewers, has earned the game further national recognition with a nomination in a second major sports awards ceremony this spring.

Our League is in the running for a Sports Business Award on May 31 in the Best Fan Engagement Programme category. This is the second award nomination of the awards season, having already been included on the shortlist for Best Fan / Community Engagement for the BT Sports Industry Awards on April 25. This second nomination comes after Our League recently celebrated breaking through the 100,000 members milestone, showing just how much Rugby League means to the fans.

Mark Foster, the RFL’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “It’s great to have this recognition for the sport, and also for the people who have worked so hard to establish and develop Our League since it was launched in late 2017.“It was the first Rugby League OTT platform, allowing more matches and features to be broadcast and watched than ever before – and a pivotal part of our strategy for ensuring that Rugby League is well-placed to capitalise on the opportunities provided by the digital revolution.”

Launched in Autumn 2017 in partnership with InCrowd, the membership scheme has improved fan experience and engagement for lovers of Rugby League at all levels of the game, offering exclusive content, predictor games, ticket offers, money can’t buy benefits and prizes via the digital platforms – app (iOS & Android) and website that members can access. This season Rugby League personalities such as Andrew Henderson and Jamie Jones-Buchanan have led extensive coverage of the Betfred Championship and League One competitions, focusing on the best tries and matches through the week – as well as providing live and exclusive coverage every weekend.

This weekend (30th March) focus turns to the Coral Challenge Cup, with the Our League cameras focusing on the famous St Helens amateur club Thatto Heath, and their attempt to spring an upset against North Wales Crusaders. That will be followed by a blockbuster opening fixture from the fast-growing Women’s Super League on April 7, as Wigan Warriors launch their defence of the title against fierce local rivals St Helens.

Darren Parsons, Marketing Account Manager at InCrowd said, “Recently smashing the 100K member mark, Our League continues to be a great project to work on in close collaboration with the Rugby Football League. It’s been amazing to see fans from all corners of the Rugby League community come together and find something to engage with on the platform; it’s fast becoming an absolute must-have, for every fan.”

Download the Our League app on Apple iOS and Android or visit rugby-league.com to sign up for FREE!

The RFL & InCrowd welcome over 100,000 members to Our League

Our League, the RFL’s website & mobile app for rugby league spectators, viewers & participants has officially surpassed the 100,000 members mark.

Launched in Autumn 2017 in partnership with InCrowd, the membership platform offers exclusive content, participation, ticketing integration, member benefits and prizes, enhancing the fan experience for lovers of Rugby League at all levels of the game.

Surpassing the 100k mark is the latest achievement for the Our League platform, having celebrated a number of landmarks since it’s fruition. Over 76,000 members interact with Our League through the official app with single day usage peaking at over 47,000.

The stats

53 rugby league matches have been streamed live, including Betfred Championship and League 1, Coral Challenge Cup (Men’s & Women’s) and Women’s Super League. 51,000 unique members have watched the live streamed matches, amounting to over 160,000 cumulative live streams views to date, with the current record at 25,000 viewers during England vs France in October 2018.

The popular round-by-round predictor game, which has engaged nearly 40,000 regular players, has awarded supporters with numerous prizes including hospitality tickets at all major Rugby League events, signed shirts/match balls and the opportunity to win the grand prize of £20,000.

Supporters have also been able to have their say by voting for the Man of the Match for every televised Betfred Super League and Betfred Championship fixture. Participation in the poll has generated an average of 3,000 votes per game. The app’s match centre, which covers community leagues right up to the Betfred Super League, was viewed over 1 million times in February alone.

Our League 100K members
Nichola Spencer, Membership Manager at the RFL said, “It’s fantastic that we’ve achieved the 100k members mark and the success of Our League continues to surpass our expectations. Our active membership numbers are constantly increasing and we are smashing record after record in terms of users and participation.”
“We’d like to thank InCrowd for the exceptional service they have provided since the launch of the platforms and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them to further improve the app and website. We are excited about what we will achieve together over the course of 2019, delivering an even better experience for our unique and passionate fans.”

Darren Parsons, Marketing Account Manager at InCrowd said “Our League continues to be a great project to work on, with the platform evolving and usage increasing regularly. It has been great to see members from all corners of the rugby league community come together and find something to engage with on the platform and in collaboration with The Rugby Football League, we will continue to develop Our League into an absolute must-have, for every fan.”

Download the Our League app on Apple iOS and Android or visit rugby-league.com to sign up for FREE!

Boxing Day Sport

How the FA could work with clubs on Boxing Day to boost family attendance for women’s football

Boxing Day sport is a fantastic tradition. From Premier League football to Melbourne’s annual test cricket match, it is a true family occasion and has proven to generate well above average ticket sales. But what happens when your team is playing away? This is something experienced by many fans – left without a match to attend at a point in Christmas when, let’s face it, we probably all need something to get us off the sofa and away from Home Alone! So, what can be done to give those fans somewhere to go and something to do?

Thousands of empty seats and thousands of fans wanting to buy tickets
The Premier League designs a schedule to ensure away fans don’t have to travel too far on Boxing Day, but there are still thousands of fans missing out on attending sport with their families.

Ticketmaster’s State of Play research (http://www.ticketmastersport.com/stateofplay) shows that family time is a major reason for attending sporting events and Boxing Day stands out as one of the biggest on the UK calendar for family gatherings. At the same time, there were 350,000 seats left empty in stadia around the country because teams were playing away games. So, we have empty seats and families desperate to fill them. This is an open opportunity for rights holders.

Prime opportunity to promote women’s football

This is an opportunity to promote Women’s Football to a fanbase that would not normally attend. The FA could schedule local derby matches which would give greater context to the match whilst enabling both the home and away teams and spectators to easily attend the game.

Here is a list of matches that would have been possible in 2018; had these gone ahead it would not only have made for an effective promotional campaign for women’s football, but I am sure clubs would see good attendance figures.

  • Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates
  • Manchester City vs. Manchester United at the Etihad
  • Chelsea vs. QPR at Stamford Bridge
  • Everton vs. Liverpool at Goodison Park
  • Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Lewes at the Amex
  • Huddersfield Town vs. Bradford City at the John Smith’s Stadium
  • West Ham United vs. Millwall at the London Stadium
  • AFC Bournemouth vs. Southampton at the Vitality Stadium
  • Cardiff City vs. Swansea City at the Cardiff City Stadium

There are, of course, mis-matches above although I am not sure that matters (it doesn’t for the men’s FA cup). There could also be issues with policing these events when another football match is happening just down the road but this can be managed with scheduling across 26 and 27 December.

Rugby fans in the same situation

This “away day” problem for fans is even more apparent in rugby union. When Boxing Day falls mid-week, as has just done, it is not possible to schedule a match without cancelling one of the weekends either side to allow for proper player recovery time.

Other teams (e.g. non-league, schools, Barbarians) could step up and take on the annual Boxing Day slot at each of the 12 Premiership Rugby grounds. It would not take much for this to become part of the Christmas holiday routine for rugby loving families; perhaps something for CVC to consider as part of their new investment in the sport.

Marketing and fan experience funding

For both of these examples, ticketing is going to be the greatest revenue stream for those involved and costs will be manageable without the larger player fees to consider. Focusing on marketing the event well and investment into the fan experience will be crucial in creating an annual, much anticipated event for football and rugby fans.

Furthermore, without this match being confined by the usual playing conditions or regulations (these matches would not be part of the Women’s Super League for example) they could involve star players drafted in from the US leagues to provide an additional layer of interest for fans. It is also an excellent time to involve charity initiatives as Sunderland have done so successfully with their recent “Gift of Football” campaign. There are a multitude of possibilities!

Christmas time is all about bringing people together after all. I love Boxing Day sport and think there there is huge potential for organisations and clubs to promote women’s sport, provide opportunities for lower league teams and reach out to communities around the UK.

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The sports industry is changing & at InCrowd, we help our clients adapt & evolve. Using technology and insight, we give rights holders & their commercial partners the power to deliver personalised content and experiences, for every fan.

Find out more at www.incrowdsports.com

InCrowd & The RFL celebrate a momentous first year for Our League

  • 84,000 members, 32 live match streams and over 13,000 prizes won to date.
  • Successful integration of ticketing, rewards, live streaming, predictor games and polls.
  • Live broadcast integration with Sky Sports for Man Of The Match voting.
  • Community-wide match centre and player stats dashboards.
  • Big prize winners of signed merchandise, finals tickets and trips to Australia.

Just over a year ago, The Rugby Football League (RFL) launched their membership platform Our League in partnership with InCrowd. The RFL had approached InCrowd to realise their ambitions to build a world leading membership platform for spectators, viewers and participants of rugby league.

Plans for a membership website and mobile app included exclusive content, member benefits, participation features, a ticketing integration, gamification and polls to help improve the fan experience and drive return on investment for The RFL. All parties were full of expectation, but no one could have imagined the success delivered by Our League. In a single year, some of Our League’s achievements include:

  • 32 live match streams.
  • An all-inclusive live match centre covering Betfred Super League to community leagues as well as a community player dashboard, sponsored by Dacia, showing statistics for the majority of rugby league players.
  • The introduction of a seamlessly linked ticketing and rewards scheme, along with in-stadia discounts.
  • Live broadcast integration with Sky Sports for Man of the Match voting via Our League platforms.
  • The launch of a round-by-round predictor game with a £20,000 grand prize.
  • Simultaneous launches of video polls that include the “Try or No Try” poll sponsored by Patient Claim Line and the “Flair Play of The Month”.

The success of these fan experience initiatives by InCrowd and The RFL has been driven by the eager participation of an enviably diverse rugby league fan base, devoted to a sport that delivers competitiveness, entertainment, passion and pride with down to earth, approachable players and coaching staff. In its first year, the Our League membership platform has welcomed 84,000 members, 65,000 of which have downloaded the Our League app which has achieved an 80% active app user rate. The regular Man of The Match vote and other polls boast over 300,000 engagements throughout the Betfred Super League season, with the Betfred Man of the Match polls over a 10 minute period averaging 3,500 votes, and other polls returning an average of 2,200 votes.

Active participation is also driven by the exceptional prizes on offer to Our League members playing the round-by-round predictor. Just this year, we have seen over 13,000 fans win prizes including signed England shirts and rugby balls, hospitality tickets to the 2018 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final and Betfred Super League Grand Final and tickets to see the England vs New Zealand internationals. Four predictor players came within four correct predictions of the £20,000 grand prize. Other Our League big prize winners included:

  • 10 winners of “super fan passes” – two tickets to all major rugby league events throughout the season.
  • Two Betfred Super League 2019 season ticket winners for the club of their choice.
  • The 50,000th Our League member and lifelong St Helens fan Derek Hewitt won two VIP tickets to the 2018 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.
  • Predictor player Neil Cunliffe won an all-inclusive trip to Brisbane, Australia for two to watch England play in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final.

“The success of Our League has more than surpassed our expectations. Our active membership numbers are constantly increasing and we are smashing record after record in terms of users and participation. The team at InCrowd have really taken the time to understand our sport and our fans and continue to provide an exceptional service. We are excited about what we will achieve together in the 2019 season, delivering an even better experience for our unique and passionate fans”, Nichola Spencer, Membership Manager at the RFL

Darren Parsons, Marketing Account Manager at InCrowd stated that “it has been a pleasure working with The RFL in this inaugural Our League season, building the foundations of their membership platform for fans to enjoy for years to come. We have immense pride in what we have achieved with The RFL in just one year and we are looking forward to continuing this successful partnership in 2019.”

£20,000 jackpot prize within reach for one OurLeague Predictor player

The UK rugby league season is reaching fever pitch for fans with the Betfred Super League semi-finals, Grand Final, Million Pound Game, League 1 semi-finals/finals, the Steve Prescott Man of Steel awards all fast approaching as well as a three-match Autumn International series against New Zealand and a pre-series game against France.

One fan who will be paying even more attention to the Betfred Super League semi-finals than usual is Wigan Warriors fan Ian Darbyshire. Ian has been an OurLeague member since its launch in October 2017 and a regular player of the OurLeague predictor. His recent streak of 22 correct predictions, dating back to 17th August, makes him the best performing predictor player of the season. In fact, Ian is one of only five out of 30,000 players to reach a streak of 20 or above.

Ian’s impressive feat has already won him the September leaderboard prize of 4 hospitality tickets to the Betfred Super League Grand Final, in which he could see his side, Wigan Warriors, compete for the trophy if they make it past the semi-finals on Friday 5th October.

There is however a more significant personal prize within Ian’s reach; his active streak of 22 leaves him just 3 correct predictions away from winning OurLeague’s £20,000 Predictor jackpot prize. In order to win, Ian must correctly predict the outcome of St. Helens vs Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors vs Castleford Tigers, along with the first try scorer of the latter game. Keep a close eye on InCrowd’s Twitter and Instagram accounts as well as industry press for the outcome.

The InCrowd team would like to wish Ian luck, and in keeping with the Super League message for the Grand Final, encourage him to ‘Dare to Dream’.

OurLeague is the Rugby Football League’s membership platform powered by FanScore and developed in partnership with InCrowd. The platform provides exclusive content, live streaming, a host of member benefits and engaging interactive touch points for rugby league fans including polls, live Man of the Match voting and the season long predictor competition. To find out more, contact enquiries@incrowdsports.com

Nichola Spencer, Membership Manager at the Rugby Football League said, “Since its launch at the end of 2017, membership of OurLeague has increased massively and now has nearly 70,000 registrations. The OurLeague Predictor is a fantastic way for fans to engage with each game and win incredible prizes. We’d like to wish Ian the best of luck in his predictions tonight and tomorrow.”

The Rugby Football League partner with InCrowd to launch their Our League membership platform

In 2017, InCrowd partnered with the Rugby Football League (RFL) in order to build, launch and deliver priceless experiences for fans in time for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and the 2018 rugby league season.

The Rugby Football League (RFL) approached InCrowd to realise their ambitions to build a world leading membership platform for spectators, viewers and participants of rugby league. Plans for a membership website and mobile apps included exclusive content, member benefits, participation features, a ticketing integration, gamification and polls to help drive fan experience and return on investment for the RFL. The launch was planned to perfectly coincide with the 2017 Rugby League World Cup (RLWC2017) in Australia, giving new members the chance to support England in their quest for glory.

InCrowd provided the necessary resource and expertise to ensure the deadline was met, resulting in the on time launch of the official Our League app and website. InCrowd worked with many of the RFL’s partners integrating Tickethour, and a loyalty scheme via Rewards4 Rugby League. Working with StreamAMG, the platform also saw live streaming of a match 4 days post launch, which proved a successful addition to increase registrations with over 40,000 live views of England’s warm up fixture against Affiliated States. Live streaming was also delivered for the Women’s Rugby League World Cup (WRLWC2017).

Fans were able to fully immerse themselves in the RLWC2017 and WRLWC2017 for free, including behind the scenes content and huge prizes, including Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final ticket discounts, signed England shirts and premium tickets to all major UK rugby league events in 2018. The Grand Prize was an all expenses paid trip for two to Australia, to watch the RLWC2017 final. One lucky member, Neil Cunliffe, and is wife were flown to watch England in the final in Australia as a result of finishing top of the membership leaderboard after the Quarter Finals.

 

2018 Rugby League Season

After RLWC2017, work was extended to the 2018 Rugby League season. In the first seven weeks of the season the Our League platforms powered by FanScore had already seen nearly 12,000 participants in the Betfred Super League predictor game and consistently receives 3,000 – 4,000 Betfred Man of the Match votes, thanks to InCrowd’s first live participation TV initiative with Sky Sports. Since launch, over 12k Our League members have voted for their Man of the Match.

Membership is a significant step forward for the Rugby Football League. In September we didn’t have anything and now in February we have a membership system with over 36,000 active members.

Richard Donlon, Systems Manager, The RFL

Working with Sports Technology Group (STG) and FluidCM we have been able to deliver a rugby league player dashboard showing stats and comparison to other players within a player’s division.In addition to this, InCrowd and the RFL have big plans for the future of Our League. These plans include a wider ranging comparisons within the player dashboard, a Betfred Super League to community leagues match centre, private predictor leagues, head-to-heads, coaching content and personalised membership experiences. We are excited about our continuing work with the RFL to engage the rugby league audience.

For more information, or for details on how InCrowd can help you reach out to your fans, please contact enquiries@incrowdsports.com

Visit the Our League website here

Download the iOS app

Download the Android app

 

About InCrowd

InCrowd provide a fan engagement & sponsorship activation platform. Our understanding of the avid and emotional mindset of a fan is combined with in-depth data analysis and ground-breaking digital technology to offer rights holders and brands a unique opportunity to reach out to sports fans in the moments that really matter. Many of the world‘s top rights holders & brands use InCrowd’s fan marketing platform to collect more fan data, sell more tickets and increase sponsorship revenue. We also help sponsors connect with new customers and convert fan interaction into revenue & advocacy. 

InCrowd at the 2015 Rugby Expo

InCrowd will be present at the Rugby Expo from November 26th – 27th on stand A6. We will be on hand to discuss our club apps, sponsorship opportunities and to explain our award winning stadium connectivity solution.

We will also be running our mobile game competition; ‘Handoff Challenge’ where you will be able to test your skills against some rugby legends. The top scorer across the two days will be awarded an iPad.

So feel free to come and say hello and take part!

 

A Ryder Cup for rugby?

With a hugely successful 6 Nations behind us and Rugby World Cup approaching, I look at how rugby fans are treated to relatively little international competition rugby and how a few small changes would create a compelling tournament with similar aspects to golf’s Ryder Cup.

 

If we have any more days like Saturday (the final day of the 6 Nations), 2015 will be a boon for rugby fans and players alike, not to mention for sponsors, broadcasters and merchandisers. I am a rugby fan but it is the first time I have watched three back to back matches.

But the excitement surrounding the 6 Nations and the World Cup is a stark reminder of how little international competition rugby we are treated to in the UK. British teams, like their Southern Hemisphere counterparts, rarely compete in more than one tournament annually. Around the big competitions, we as fans snack on friendlies such as the Autumn Internationals, an annual tour of Southern Hemisphere teams to the UK, which while compelling, lacks the building narrative of a league or knockout format.

It is this narrative that had us all enthralled at the weekend, it is this narrative that would have a Welsh fan rapt by a Scotland vs. Argentina game, if it would indirectly affect the fortunes of their national team. As it happened, the friendly I have in mind in November 2014 didn’t even hold much allure for the Scots themselves; Murrayfield was left almost half empty.

The irony of the Autumn Internationals is they consistently boast the world’s best players, greatest showdowns and higher concentration of top ranked matches than the Rugby World Cup. Nearly half of its 2014 friendlies had winning margins of less than one try, yet we struggle to recall those winning moments. They simply didn’t matter as much to the fans, the press or the big business that surrounds our sport.

Rugby’s governors would merely have to tweak the Autumn Internationals to create a more exciting – and lucrative – competition. Considering the political and logistical impediments to changing international schedules, the most difficult part of what I propose (finding time in the schedules of the world’s greatest players and buy in from the governing bodies) has already been achieved.

The annual spectre of the Autumn Internationals could be refashioned into an annual tournament pitching the best of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres against each other. Think the Ryder Cup meets Lion’s Tour, think Super Bowl or Grand Final, think All Stars vs. Barbarians. If England’s recent World Cup performances in cricket and football are anything to go by, we may need another tournament.

Excited fans also attract business. The 2015 World Cup will generate broadcasting revenues in excess of £100m and sell over 2.3 million tickets. The 6 Nations generates £300 million in revenue each year, double that of the RFU (England’s governing body) a substantial amount of whose income comes from the 6 Nations. The Autumn Internationals could be much more profitable for each nation with the added ingredient of narrative.

Here’s how it might work:

Firstly, take the top six teams from each hemisphere:

Northern Hemisphere GroupSouthern Hemisphere Group
EnglandAustralia
FranceArgentina
IrelandFiji
ItalyNew Zealand
ScotlandSamoa
WalesSouth Africa

4 matches per team
Each team from the Northern Hemisphere Group would play four teams from the Southern Hemisphere Group including two of the “big three” – Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – and visa versa.

Northern vs. Southern Hemisphere battle
A similar points system would operate to the Rugby World Cup. Teams would collect points to climb the standings in their own group and also to build points for their hemisphere (or group) as a whole. Every point for every team would matter in the context of the Northern vs. Southern Hemisphere battle.

Grand Final
Following the end of the group stage, the top team from each Hemisphere would play a Grand Final worth double points for their Hemisphere. The build up to this final would be immense, there would not be a neutral supporter in the world.

Hemisphere with most points wins
A trophy and prize money would be awarded to the Hemisphere with the most points with prize money distributed to players based on how many points they won for their Hemisphere. A separate trophy would go to the winner of the Grand Final.

Cricket, football and athletics each have successful secondary tournaments that don’t come around every year. There’s little obstacle for World Rugby to follow suit. I can’t wait for the World Cup but I don’t want to wait another four years to see England play competitively against the likes of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.