Panel discussion with Alek Hannessian, Dugout and Karla Garza Ramos, Tigres UANL.

Dugout Regional Manager, Alek Hannessian, joined Karla Garza Ramos, Director of Marketing at Tigres UANL, for a Sport Innovation Society masterclass to discuss Dugout’s recent expansion in LATAM. Hosted by Arnaud Drijard, Co-Founder and CEO, Sport Innovation Society, Alek explains why Dugout sees LATAM as a huge growth market and what the future of football content may look like there.

Sport Innovation Society:

What is Dugout’s reach and how important is LATAM as a market?

Dugout:

Dugout currently averages 400 million monthly views and 85 million unique users. Last year we received nearly two billion views and this year’s goal is four billion.

LATAM counts for 6-10% of our global views, but for me what’s most important is where we will be in one to three months. We view the region as a big opportunity for a couple of unique reasons. There is an established, passionate football culture – which is also present in other global markets – but what makes LATAM different is that fans closely follow American football alongside European football. Football fans have a connection with multiple leagues and nations around the world.

Sport Innovation Society:

If I am not mistaken, the LATAM market is around 800 million people and, of these, more than 50% must love football. It is a big number. Karla, for the audience I think it is important that they know about your club, your passion – so tell us more about Tigres?

Tigres UANL:

We signed our partnership with Dugout a few months ago, and it makes me very proud that we are talking about it. It is a success story and we’re really happy about it. 

“We signed our partnership with Dugout a few months ago, and it makes me very proud that we are talking about it. It is a success story and we’re really happy about it.”

Karla Garza, Marketing Director, Tigres UANL

Tigres is a club located in Monterrey where football generates a lot of passion; it is a very important topic. Every time there is a Clasico the city freezes. In the last 10 years, Tigres has been a team under the spotlight, as we have won five league titles, and have played in international tournaments. We have been very successful over the last decade and we want to equal or better this over the next decade. This relates to the Liga MX Championship, but aside from sporting achievement, it also relates to the growth of market share and to signing agreements like the one with Dugout. 

Sport Innovation Society

With the COVID situation postponing live matches, how has your strategy changed inside Tigres – if it has changed at all – to engage your fans?

Tigres UANL:

We’ve focused a lot on our digital strategy over the last few months which has changed significantly. Firstly, we have seen general internet usage grow which has occurred globally. Internet traffic has grown 35-40%, so as a brand, you need to capitalize on this. As a sports club, you need to have the correct tools and strategies to continue to reach your fans so that they feel close to you. It may sound a little ironic perhaps, but this digital growth initially slowed us down a little as we evaluated the opportunities in the market and worked on strategies to maximize them.

With regards to where we’re heading with content, I strongly believe it’s towards activating the players, staff, and even directors. Today, fans want to see their idol – but they also want to know about their human side. They want to know what goes on in the locker room, they want to understand the responsibilities of the Technical Director, and what the club directors are working on. I think the digital challenge of today is about offering something more intimate – and that is where we’re headed. 

Another challenge is the fan experience – what is it going to be like now that football is returning without fans? We’re working on different strategies to see how the fan – from their home – can support the team and feel like they are a part of the match; and how players can feel that the fans are still supportive. Moving forward, a successful strategy will be one which ensures the passion and closeness fans feel when in a stadium is felt through an online experience too.

“A successful strategy will be one which ensures the passion and closeness fans feel when in a stadium is felt through an online experience too”.

Karla Garza, Marketing Director, Tigres UANL

Sport Innovation Society: 

How do you think digital football consumption has changed? Which platforms and formats has this digital consumption moved to?

Tigres UANL

Many of us have just started exploring OTT, and we are pushing to create new channels because it’s clear YouTube and Instagram have grown in popularity particularly in levels of engagement for younger generations. We need to understand that each generation consumes content differently. I can’t offer the same content to Gen Z as to Millennials. Both generations may prefer video content, however one may be interested in receiving news rather than lifestyle or off-the-pitch content so we try and have different strategies. 

I think the great challenge of working in marketing at a football club is that your audience includes different ages, genders and socio-economic groups. We have to connect with all fans. You need to have different strategies to appeal to the entire market and deliver valuable content to everyone.

Sport Innovation Society:

Alek, in 2018, your Chairman mentioned that 50% of football content wasn’t directly related to matches. What importance does this have?

Dugout: 

Well, this is really important and we’re seeing that this number is growing. During the Coronavirus period it has skyrocketed. From our point of view this is positive – it makes sense, and it makes the clubs and our service more dynamic. We connect with the audience outside of live matches. For example, with match highlights, it allows us to speak to different audience segments: men, women, old, young, who do not want to watch a full 90-minute game but still want to receive the highlights in a shorter form.

Sport Innovation Society:

Karla what drew you to Dugout and why did you believe a partnership with Dugout would benefit Tigres?

Tigres UANL: 

Our job is to constantly look for strategic partnerships that allow us to internationalize and grow the brand. I think all clubs should have that vision and Dugout has been very important in helping us reach that goal. We have been able to go beyond our borders and reach a greater international audience.

Through our partnership we’ve created content with clubs from other continents which we would not have done otherwise. Greta Espinoza, one of the players on our women’s team, has featured in content alongside players from PSG, Juventus and Ajax. The ability to internationalize the brand is helping greatly to increase brand awareness.

Dugout gives us extra value in both commercial and media terms. They help us spread our messaging, and without exaggerating – they reach the entire world. Football is global and the average fan doesn’t solely consume content from their team. For example, I am a fan of Tigres but I also like to see what is going on in Europe, and I have preferred clubs and players over there too.

Sport Innovation Society: 

I think the average is more than five clubs per football fan?

Tigres UNAL:

Perhaps you only support one team, but you connect with others. Especially if they are outside of your country, because you may only follow one local club but you’ll follow one from Germany and Italy also. You create connections with a collection of clubs. 

In February we had a great moment in a game which Alek and Dugout helped us with a lot and it demonstrates the benefits of our partnership. In the 93rd minute, Nahuel Guzmán, our goalkeeper, scored a goal and if Nahuel hadn’t scored that goal, we would have been eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League. The goal took us to the quarterfinals and the stadium went crazy. Imagine it, a goal from a goalkeeper in the last minute. Obviously, our keeper didn’t know what to do, he went into the stands, jumping, it was a spectacle.

“Thanks to our partnership with Dugout this moment was featured throughout global media – we even made it in Japanese media. Through our partnership strategy and working with Dugout, the story and Tigres were known around the world”

Karla Garza, Marketing Director, Tigres UANL 

Dugout: 

It was such an impactful moment, with so much passion, and this is a universal sentiment. You don’t have to be a Tigres fan to feel your heart race. The close connection and working relationship that Tigres and Dugout have, meant that we quickly had this video inside of our library enabling our publishing partners to use the video in places like Japan, Europe, Africa, everywhere. 

Sport Innovation Society:

Karla, you mentioned the number one objective was internationalization, and to be part of a group of the world’s biggest clubs that work with Dugout. How important was the commercial and the monetization of content?

Tigres UANL: 

It’s a really successful business model because Dugout provides a lot, including monetary value. It’s a really well thought-out strategy by Dugout as it gives clubs a 360-degree offering. They provide value to the club in media and commercial terms, and Dugout provides value to the fan by allowing them to know what’s happening around the world through exclusive, exceptional content. When we signed the deal with Dugout, the commercial part was the least important part. I thought we’ll be able to generate a new revenue stream, which we have, but really what was important for us was the media exposure. Working with Dugout gives us the ability to connect with global media, allowing Tigres to have a presence all over the world. 


This webinar was conducted in Spanish and subsequently translated into English.

If you would like to watch the full webinar it is available on YouTube: