Italy’s second division Lega Serie B has partnered with Italian Football TV (IFTV) to share some exclusive content in an effort to promote the league to its fans abroad during the playoffs.
The first leg of the semi-finals will take place tomorrow, featuring Cittadella vs Frosinone and Venezia vs Palermo. The playoff winner will join Serie B champion Empoli and runner-up Parma as they get promoted to Serie A.
Although Serie B does not have the same following like Serie A abroad, it still garners interest especially where there are large segments of the Italian community – particularly from central to southern Italy.
In fact, the bulk of immigrants who left the old country come from the following areas: Sicily, Naples, Calabria, Abruzzi, Molise, Puglia and Basilicata. Fans following the teams from these regions in Serie B feel the nostalgia and connection with the old country in a special way. This is magnified in the playoffs as a promotion to Serie A is at stake and it is always a great source of pride having a team from your origins playing on the biggest stage.
Calcio e Finanza spoke with Federico Smanio, Serie B Head of Digital Transformation and Fan Relationship Management about this initiative.
How did this initiative come about and what was the objective?
This initiative is based on an exchange of ideas with our friends at Italian Football TV, which we embarked on enthusiastically. Marco Messina (creator of IFTV) showed us the great interest that the Serie B generates outside of Italy, in particular in the United States and Canada where IFTV has a major following.
The proposal was a collaboration during the playoffs on social media to tell the story behind the scenes of the clubs involved, through the eyes and voice of both the players and the fans – and share some exclusive content with our North American fans.
The goal is to experiment a new interaction and establish a first contact with this community of fans by increasing our presence on social media and bring them closer to the fascinating world and the unique stories of Serie B.
The numbers in terms of IFTV’s audience and engagement as well as the passion and professionalism of Marco and his partner convinced us of the usefulness of what is in effect a test.
Are there any plans after the playoffs to also do something during next season?
If the playoff test gives us positive results as we expect, then we do plan on doing something next season. A possible collaboration for next season will have to be based on more concrete plans both from the editorial point of view and the possible involvement of clubs and sponsors.
With this clarified, synergies like the one with IFTV are a fundamental ingredient to improve the effectiveness of our communication strategy and therefore to grow the Lega B brand.
Many fans keep asking about watching Serie B abroad, are there plans to make this happen starting next season?
We receive many messages from passionate fans who ask how they can watch Serie B abroad, in particular via OTT which is the easiest way to give access. Looking at the comments of the IFTV followers it is evident the interest is there to watch our matches.
The TV rights are currently up for tender and for this reason we must proceed with caution. This situation, common to many rights-holding organizations in a historical phase in which the exploitation of the content is changing and non-traditional players operating on the web are emerging, could open very interesting scenarios for the broadcasting of Serie B abroad.
However, many elements should not be underestimated, for example, the need for the league and its clubs to make the most of their rights, the difficulty of promoting and distributing the product efficiently, and the ability to find a partner that is right for us.