Updated: Apr 17
Manchester United, Chelsea and Bayern Munich have the most accessed mobile apps, according to new research.
European football continues to expand its international footprint and leagues are exploring ways to create expanded fan engagements outside of the arena.
English and European clubs were presented a 28.9 billion euro market opportunity prior to pandemic shutdowns.
According to, App Annie, the leading mobile data and analytics company, mobile presents a valuable opportunity for viewing games, team communications and engaging experiences such as timely promotions and gamified experiences.
On the eve of the UEFA Champions League Final on May 29, 2020, App Annie took a look at the top Football clubs by global monthly active user base.
As global interest in European football has grown in recent years, individual club apps provide a way for dedicated fans to remain updated on teams’ latest updates, scores and more. Many clubs set their sights on international markets in our digitally-connected world. Chelsea FC – Fifth Stand and Manchester United have seen significant growth in international downloads in the last 12 months. As of April 2021, Chelsea FC saw 95% overseas downloads and Manchester United saw 86% overseas downloads.
Interactive content and gamification have proven successful in growing mobile engagement through these platforms. For example, Chelsea FC – Fifth Stand includes live chat features, allowing users to connect with other fans during the game as well as play predictors, and Manchester United’s app includes trivia and game predictions. In addition to interactive content, sports leagues have found success in engaging fans through timely sponsorships and game-day deals with food delivery apps that help enhance the at-home game day experience. For example, Deliveroo is an official sponsor of the English Football Association. In April 2020, 8% of Deliveroo users on iPhone and Android Phone were also using the Premier League App in the UK (3.6 percentage points higher than the average of the next three leading food delivery apps).
In the United Kingdom, users of the leading football club apps: Arsenal, Chelsea FC – Fifth Stand, Liverpool FC and Manchester United and the Premier League apps, are proven to be more engaged on mobile than many other clubs. Users who downloaded the Premier League app are 2.2x as likely to be engaged on Linkedin and 2.1x more likely to be an active Snapchat user. Chelsea FC – Fifth Stand saw the highest affinity with TikTok, followed by Ajax Official App and Premier League. TikTok is an important app for reaching Gen Z and cultivating deep engagement through user generated content. Manchester United recently reported going from 0 to 2 million TikTok followers in 6 months — embracing the tidal wave of TikTok. Many users of the top sports apps are more likely than the general public to spend significant time on social media apps, like TikTok or Instagram, which presents an opportunity for sports teams to capitalize on that engagement.
Fan engagement of Premier League is also high among other sports leagues apps in the UK. While Manchester United has the highest cross-app usage among selected sports league apps at 6.6% — there is still a large opportunity for growth. Formula 1 saw higher cross-app usage than the UEFA Champions League app— representing a strong opportunity for partnerships, advertising and marketing potential. It’s also worth noting that users of the Premier League apps have higher cross-app usage with golf apps like The Masters Golf Tournament (2.3%) and PGA Tour (1.5%) than even some football league apps like Liverpool FC, Arsenal and Manchester City.
“English and European clubs presented a 28.9 billion euro market opportunity prior to pandemic shutdowns. In our mobile-first world, apps present a valuable opportunity for cultivating strong fan engagement, reaching new markets, promotions and gamified experiences. While a football match has fans full attention for 90 minutes, mobile has the potential to capture audience attention far beyond matchday. Clubs like Chealsea and ManU have realized this and prioritize features for deep engagement and leverage mobile apps as a key way to reach beyond their homegrown markets — with Chelsea FC and ManU seeing 95% and 85%, respectively, overseas downloads in April 2021. A robust data-fueled mobile strategy is needed for football clubs to maximize their mobile exposure and create a deeply engaged digital audience that can generate top-line growth. It’s not just about who wins on the pitch at the upcoming UEFA Champions League Final, but who is winning with fans on their favorite device. Chelsea FC ranks #2 by global mobile user base among football clubs, second only to Manchester United.” — Lexi Sydow, Head of Marketing Insights, App Annie
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