How Social Media Influencers are helping to influence the sporting world
By Elliot Snaith
Social media influencers are always seen to be promoting brands online but over the past few years they have been starting to work their way into sports world from promoting events or clubs to competing in sold out events.
Influencers are starting to gain more attention from within the mainstream media now with many having millions of followers they offer brands and TV channels a new opportunity. UK Youtuber, KSI is currently leading the way with most recently appearing on the Stand Up To Cancer The Great Celebrity Bake Off. Before making it into the mainstream media it was KSI and fellow YouTuber Joe Weller who began Social Media Influencers getting into boxing with them attracting 1.6 million live viewers in what is the biggest white collar boxing fight ever. After the fight which KSI won, he called out American YouTuber Logan Paul where they fought in a sold-out Manchester Arena in front of 21,000 people which also had 2.25 million viewers live. The fight ended in a draw which led to a rematch which began both their professional boxing careers in which the fight was picked up by Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn.
Hearn took the fight to the America, where it was hosted at Staples Center in Los Angeles. KSI once again came out on top to win the fight in a split decision. Eddie Hearn said after the fight it sold more pay-per-views than Anthony Joshua’s shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr at the time. The undercard also hosted two title fights on the night which saw UK boxer Billy Joe Saunders defeat Argentinian Marcelo Esteban Coceres to retain WBO super-middleweight title. Whilst many other professional boxers would be upset that they were not the main event, Billy Joe Saunders at the time said he was fine with the decision saying, ‘If I take five or ten per cent of their crowd with a good show then I am establishing my name in America and giving myself a better chance of getting a Golovkin or Canelo’. This has now led to Saunders fighting Canelo Alvarez on the 8th May less then two years from the KSI V Logan Paul II fight.
By this offering, an opportunity to Saunders it also gave the boxing world a brand-new audience with Sky Sports also taking advantage of this as they allowed YouTubers Joe Weller who fought in the first fight against KSI and Behzinga to help host the event.
Even though Logan Paul ended up losing against KSI he is set to potentially become the real winner. In January it was announced the YouTuber was set to fight Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition match in February. The fight never deteriorated however it is rumoured to take place nearer the end of the year. This fight alone shows the huge influence social media is having in the sporting world where the best fighter ever is coming out of retirement to fight an influencer who never won his professional fight to earn a massive pay check with pay-per-views currently being sold at $60 which could help both out in many ways with Mayweather gaining more of a younger following to Paul gaining more recognition in the media. Logan Paul also recently appeared on WWE Smackdown which is also helping out the sport of wrestling by having him on as well as himself gaining new followers from the wrestling world.
Having recently tried to call out Conor McGregor, Logan Pauls’ brother Jake is set to fight on the 17th of April, in his third professional fight against former UFC star Ben Askren in what he says is going to be the ‘biggest payday’ of his career. Ben Askren currently holds the record for being knocked out in the UFC in the quickest time possible in 5 seconds against Jorge Masvidal but that has not stopped UFC President Dana White backing the former star by betting a million dollars on him to beat Jake Paul.
Paul currently has 20.3 million subscribers on YouTube and held the most recent press conference on his channel which attracted 1.3 million views. Paul has previously fought fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib which he won by TKO where they were the co main event and former professional basketball player Nate Robinson where he won by KO where he was part of the undercard of Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr.
With having a huge online following Jake Paul is expected to bring a huge audience with him to this fight against Ben Askren in which Paul is currently the favourite to win with the bookies which would be a huge shock in the fighting world if an ‘influencer’ defeats a professional fighter.
Whilst the boxing world is now heavily involved with social media influencers getting involved, Amazon Prime is also taking advantage of social media platform Twitch where they are getting streamers to host Premier League games to their viewers in the UK for free. As Amazon is an online company the marketing idea is huge by having fans of certain streamers involved in the matches it brings in thousands of viewers at a time to the game as well as making people intrigued to purchase Amazon Prime. It also offers a different experience to the fans of the streamers as they get the opportunity to watch the game with them.
With many sporting brands and industries starting to become aware of what social media influencers are starting to offer them, the future only seems to be getting bigger and brighter for both especially in the boxing world. With many influencers providing millions of followers across all there social media channels and the sporting world having the financial stability to invest in them the opportunities which are set to happen for everyone involved is set to only become bigger and better in the future meaning the best is still yet to come.