WePlay and Burst Insights combine to create the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12 Social Video Index

Northern hemisphere club rugby is back after an off-season of marquee signings and showpiece fixture announcements. Digital engagement agency, WePlay, have once more joined forces with Burst Insights, to create the definitive Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12 Rugby Social Video Index, using Burst Insights data to rank all 24 teams from the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12.

With each passing season, the Aviva Premiership and to a lesser extent, the Guinness Pro 12 grow in commercial size, following the increased TV deal with BT Sport and the Aviva Premiership’s salary cap rise. However, rugby is still lacking the commercial power of a sport such as football, with smaller budgets and a greater need for staff, production and content efficiency off the field.

As rugby attempts to expand beyond its traditional core audiences, with Premiership sides having played in New York and the Middle East in recent years and the Pro 12 eyeing up the USA, the need for ‘smart’ brand development, engagement and commercialisation is greater than ever. Short form video is the key.

The Index was designed to show the largely untapped opportunities video still presents to the rugby world in achieving audience reach and engagement, which both have commercial value.

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There’s more to video than meets the eye. It comes in many forms. Aside from traditional video, you can now produce GIFs, Scratchreels, Cinemagraphs (still images with minor moving components), Live video and 360 degree video cheaply. All of these can be produced on a tight budget to galvanise and engage a rugby audience.

But, what is the rugby world doing to maximise these content opportunities? Do the on-field superpowers of the likes of Saracens, Wasps, Leinster and Glasgow Warriors deliver off the field? Or, do the basement battlers soar to the top of the heap? Find out below.

Each of the 24 teams are ranked by the Burst Engagement Score, a unique algorithm developed by Burst Insights. It works by analysing all the available social engagement metrics a brand profile has received, applying a video post frequency rating and benchmarking it against the top performing profile in their database, to create a single score metric between 1 and 100.

The Top 5 is dominated by the Premiership, with one Pro 12 representative  – Ulster – making it in fourth place. Saracens prove they are champions on and off the field, delivering a comfortable victory with a rating of 40.43, ahead of Leicester Tigers, Gloucester, Ulster and Bath.

The Pro 12 supplies three of the Top 10 – Ulster, Leinster and Munster – with Edinburgh the next best placed Pro 12 side, in 12th. Last year’s champions, Connacht, are in 17th.

Arguably, the biggest surprise is the relative strength of the two Italian sides, who edge out Exeter Chiefs, Newcastle Falcons, The Ospreys and The Dragons to finish inside the Top 20. Largely because the other sides are either not on Vine at all, or have reduced video activity on Instagram.

For comparison, Manchester United topped our Premiership Football Index, notching 73.66 with AFC Bournemouth in 20th place, with 35.25. Aside from an unsustainable elevation of budgets, the only way to close the gap is via innovative video such as Cinemagraphs and Scratchreels.

Nick Morris, Account Manager, WePlay, said:

Short form video comes in numerous forms and is absolutely critical in achieving both engagement and commercial success for rugby rightsholders. It’s impact over the last few years has been transformative and is something all rightsholders have to be actively doing, not just considering.

The rugby rightsholders we work with, rightly see video as an opportunity to future proof their business and to add to a compelling digital content strategy, while creating new commercial opportunities.  

Rugby only went professional in 1995, but it is rapidly expanding with growing domestic audiences and relatively ‘new’ international markets, such as the US and Japan. Working with Burst Insights will help us supply real insight into what content works in the rugby world.”

Simon Bibby, Head of Research, Burst Insights concludes,

“Short social video content represents a huge opportunity for sponsorship ‘challenger sports clubs’ such as Rugby and Cricket. This untapped revenue source can only be fully harnessed when you apply smart actionable insight to creative content marketing decisions, and can validate the value of your content to current and prospective commercial partners.

Despite the clear engagement that social video delivers for fans, there remains a lack of insight across all sports into how the social video performance of sports clubs is impacting their brand. We are excited to be putting a focus on Rugby clubs by launching the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12 Social Video Index with WePlay to track fan engagement throughout the season.”