A localised content approach to the China market has seen the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots ranked as the most popular National Football League (NFL) franchise in terms of social growth on Weibo.
The Patriots have grown their following on social media site Weibo by 400,000 in the last 12 months, becoming the first NFL team to surpass the 500,000 mark on the platform and cementing themselves as a leading franchise in the Asian market.
Chinese digital agency Mailman says the Patriots are benefitting from their localised approach to the market, delivering regular tailored stories and content to its fanbase in China, which includes the production of a China-specific studio show, as well as the Tom Brady China Show – a monthly content series featuring the team’s star quarterback.
Brady’s show was particularly successful, gaining 15.8 million total video views, which makes it the most-viewed NFL club content series of all time and positioning the Patriots online growth ahead of the majority of National Basketball Association (NBA) franchises and a number of major European soccer clubs, including FC Barcelona and Manchester United – who last month ranked as the second most popular European team online in the country.
“China represents a strategic and important market for the Patriots and we’re delighted to see our commitment delivering positive results and a growing core fanbase,” vice president of content and publisher for the Patriots, Fred Kirsch said.
“To surpass 500,000 fans on Weibo is a great milestone and we intend to build on this foundation as we move forward with more local China projects this year.”
China is becoming increasingly important for the NFL and its teams, and commissioner Roger Goodell last month referred to the country as a “priority market”.
The league failed with plans to stage an exhibition game in Beijing in 2007 and 2009 but now looks to be positioning itself to increase its efforts in the country.