Repechage Liga MX, a commercial window with no guarantee of return

The playoff phase returned to Liga MX a year and a half ago, when football was reactivated due to a tournament interrupted due to the pandemic. Since then, through the Guardians 2020, Guardians 2021 and the current Grita Opening 2021, this round of wild cards has been watched by 12.8 million viewers for at least one minute, according to Nielsen-Ibope data shared to The Economist.

Of the three tournaments, the most watched playoff was the recent one Opening 2021, monopolizing 5.5 million viewers, while the Guardians 2020 registered 4.3 million and the Guardians 2021 to three million more. These are four games held on a weekend (Saturday and Sunday) in prime time, but despite this they do not manage to reach even a third of the audience of a Liga MX final. To contrast, the turn between Blue Cross and Santos in the last tournament she was seen for 18.5 million.

Javier Balseca, an expert in marketing and sports sponsorships, assures that the playoffs is a commercial window especially for the owners of the broadcasting rights of the matches (the television stations) and even for the clubs, but not so much for the brands, since that do not guarantee the return on investment for activating in what may be just one more game.

“The play-off is a good showcase for those who play it because you have 17 days of doing nothing and this is the one with the highest rating. But for brands it is not like that, about 70% of them do not recover their investment 100%, if they invest 20 pesos they may earn 21 or 22, but it is too much expense. Getting into football does not mean that you are going to get the money back, many brands have left due to the pollution in the environment and because it does not pay off, they suffer a decrease in income, they cut their marketing budget and they are asking for more things that pay off for what less on the subject of social networks ”.

The analyst highlights that playoffs, like the highest-rated regular season games, such as a National Classic, are upholstered with physical advertising around the court and also virtually on television screens every two minutes, however, This only means income for the television stations and for third-party companies that design said digital advertising, but for the brands it represents an extra expense to the sponsorship contract they already have with the teams. The repechage is sold separately.

“Sponsorship with a team lasts for one, two or three years for a certain amount that entitles you to have digital assets, some players for networks or spots, presence on the court in the regular phase and some contracts include play-offs or league games, to the extent that the club arrives. In the repechage, the television station goes with the brand and offers to put what they want on television, spots, virtual or mentions, but with that they add more money than the brands pay per year. That money, which is a lot, in the end the brands say ‘I spent a lot and it didn’t work for me’. It is complicated for them because it deals with contracts with teams, television stations, virtual advertising companies and even with the media ”.

According to this analysis, Balseca points out that the main beneficiaries of the commercial window of the repechage are the television stations, although later it places third-party companies that produce digital advertising and then clubs, especially those that do not have strong economies, since that presence in a phase of direct elimination and all the emotions that this moves help them to sell themselves better.

Examples are Puebla and Toluca, who have attended two and three playoffs. Both managed to sell the front of their shirt to the brands Baz (Puebla) and Roshfrans (Toluca), when the previous season they played with that empty space and that is usually the area with the highest sponsorship price within a soccer team. According to reports from this newspaper, the appearance of Roshfrans on the Red Devils’ chest is valued at 28 million pesos per year.

Regarding brands, the expert adds that only those that have immediate consumption can receive a high positive economic impact in their appearance in the playoffs, such as bookmakers, which open the opportunity for interaction in real time. However, other lagging consumer companies do not find that instant connection and therefore must offer better engagement strategies within their advertising, but they do not.

“A post on social networks, even if it has 14 million likes, does not contribute anything, brands have to make people have interaction. The same thing happens with the teams as with the league, they only make a post to the brands, but the point is to see how to make people go and consume. Going to the playoffs is a good option for the brands, but it is even more so for the clubs to convince the sponsors to stay a semester or a year more ”.

Do you envision that the playoffs will stay much longer in Liga MX with this commercial panorama?

– “It depends on what Liga MX wants to do with the Mexican Soccer Federation (FMF), but I don’t see a change in the league towards something innovative, they tried the repechage and it’s good in a certain part, but you don’t have to discover the thread black and as long as it suits them in the commercial part, the format will continue like this although it encourages mediocrity that they classify 12 out of 18. I don’t think the repechage is a bad option, but if there were promotion and relegation, to improve competitiveness. I don’t know what strategy the league and the FMF have, but this is not to reach other markets. The Liga MX does not have a clear objective, it does not say, if it is to conquer Central America or Europe and as long as there is no unification as a league in the sale of rights, advertisements will continue to saturate as in the playoffs ”.


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