SAP Study Shows More Personalized and Targeted Football TV Broadcasting Would Better Suit the Diverse Interests of Viewers


WALLDORF — On behalf of SAP SE, former sports show presenter Prof. Michael Steinbrecher and research institute mct Dortmund are identifying what TV viewers want from football coverage. The project aims to aid in the development of new, innovative presentation forms for data-driven TV journalism. Their focus lies on opinions of data-based services, such as animated 3-D analyses.

The first results of the study suggest that viewers rarely find individual data points such as ball possession or pass completion rate to be meaningful. They expect the journalists to interpret and classify this data in context. The better the expert analyses are presented before and after the game and the clearer the tactical details are visualized as a result, the better the fans perceive the coverage. To build their hypothesis, the researchers held discussions with several groups immediately before and after World Cup matches. TV viewers’ expectations of World Cup coverage diverge widely. While some fans expect complex analyses and data services, more conservative fans are fighting back against what they see as a “scientification” of the reporting.our types of viewers were identified: event-oriented, conservative, open-minded and tactics fans.

Except for the tactics fans, all study participants agreed that they want to receive as little additional information as possible during the actual matches. However, the way the data is presented is very important. In particular, participants found large graphical overlays disturbing while the game was still in progress. During the half-time break, viewers are open for data-driven analyses. The time provided for this is usually too short. The new goal-line technology is seen as an improvement. Only the conservative fans are skeptical in this regard.

Viewers think the pre-game coverage is too long overall; in their opinion, it should last less than one hour and should also become more athletic and more topical as the kickoff time approaches. The tactics fans think the pre-game coverage isn’t analytical enough. The event-oriented fans would like to hear more about the country and its people. But everyone agrees: as the match time draws closer, the coverage should get more sports-related and more topical.

The lower the emotional ties are between viewers and the playing teams, the more interesting the “second screen” becomes. Viewers then research background information on their smartphones or tablet PCs, comment on the match in the social web or use the alternative camera feeds in the networks’ media libraries.

“Major events like the World Cup show that in the long run, you can’t meet every desire of every group,” said Steinbrecher. If it were technically possible, TV viewers would seem to prefer separate, more targeted coverage. And even though this would mean an end to the shared viewing experience, more personalized offerings would be better suited to the divergent interests of the viewer types.”

The four viewer types are:

  • The event-oriented fans: This type is not interested in football outside of World and European championships. For this viewer type, watching football an emotional event they enjoy in larger groups.
  • The conservative fans: This group includes real football fans who regularly watch football on TV and are well informed about current and historic football facts but reject data-driven journalism in general. The open-minded fans: This type also watches football regularly on TV and are well informed.
  • The open-minded fans: This type is not necessarily thrilled by data-driven journalism, but open to it. Journalists have to interpret the data. It also has to be well presented visually.
  • The tactics fans: This group of fans is strongly interested in all aspects of the game. They expect well-researched tactical analyses through data-driven journalism, to provide new insights. They want to have supplementary graphics and information during the match, whether embedded in the TV broadcast or on a second screen.


As the research continues, the researchers will verify the type definitions and calculate their numbers compared to the total TV audience. Next, Steinbrecher will examine which data is considered meaningful from a sports perspective, how more meaningful data can be developed and what potential for new coverage may become available to the TV networks.

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Media Contact:
Kamila Joanna Laures, +49 (0) 30 41092-252, CET, kamila.laures@sap.com

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