Since 2015 Sanoma offers UEFA Champions League football in the Netherlands on TV and online.

It’s a great deal: Sanoma is optimally showcasing the world’s biggest football tournament, football fans are now getting a much more satisfying experience and the benefits to advertisers are clear too. 7 reasons why the UEFA Champions League is such an important case for Sanoma.

1.     TV and online under different brands

According to Gert-Jaap Hoekman, Sanoma’s editor-in-chief of Nu.nl in the Netherlands, Sanoma struck a really exceptional deal with the UEFA Champions League in 2015. “Normally, UEFA sells standard ‘free-to-air’ television packages,” he explains. “In the Netherlands Champions League football is offered on TV and online under different brands.” SBS6, the TV channel now broadcasting the matches, is two-thirds owned by Sanoma, while NU.nl, its wholly owned online counterpart, is a news site accessed by a cool three million visitors on various devices every single day.


Gert-Jaap Hoekman, Sanoma’s editor-in-chief of Nu.nl in the Netherlands

2.     Specific content for online only

Until 2015, the Champions League and its predecessors were broadcasted by Dutch public TV for as long as anyone could remember. However, football fans were quick to discover the much broader options offered by the combination of SBS6, a commercial TV channel, and NU.nl. 

“Adding an online platform strengthens the cycle of a Champions League matchday,” says Hoekman. “Online we talk to players and coaches, show footage from training, goals, replays and other video clips. This content is made specifically for use by NU.nl. It’s snappier than TV and has a high entertainment value.”


"Adding an online platform strengthens the cycle of a Champions League matchday"

Adding an online platform strengthens the cycle of a Champions League matchday.

3.     Sanoma community

Email is an additional communication channel – and one that is of great commercial value. Everyone who has logged in to watch a live-streamed match on NU.nl is sent an email brimming with relevant information ahead of the next match. In this way, the free-of-charge Sanoma account, which was rolled out recently, is turning faceless football fans into valued members of a fast-growing community. Hoekman is understandably proud of the fact that by the end of 2015, just months after Sanoma’s first Champions League season kicked off, over 200,000 viewers had already registered.

"The free-of-charge Sanoma account is turning faceless football fans into valued members of a fast-growing community"

4. Matchday cycle

On the days Champions League matches are played, the email is followed by other preliminaries like online announcements, which include advertising. If several matches are played at the same time, one of them is selected for streaming and broadcast. Hoekman: “That choice, which is made by an editorial team of sport content providers, has never been a problem. There is usually passionate agreement about the match we should feature.” The culmination of the media cycle, the game, is followed both on TV and online by interviews, analysis and highlights.
As soon as the final whistle has blown, the SBS/NU.nl team starts editing the featured match as well as all other Champions League games played that day. The clips that are extracted are preceded by advertising. Once they have been posted, online traffic becomes hectic. Around 80 per cent of the millions watching Champions League online coverage gets access on mobile devices.


When NU.nl is mentioned on TV, online traffic goes up

"Around 80 per cent of the millions watching Champions League online coverage gets access on mobile devices"

5.     Raising the profile of both brands

The world’s largest and most prestigious football tournament is cross-media proof. The easy access to different platforms makes for a seamless experience, which heightens the interest. Cross-fertilisation has a demonstrable effect. “When NU.nl is mentioned on TV, we immediately see online traffic go up,” says Hoekman. The other side of the coin is that more people watch the Champions League on SBS6 than ever did on the Dutch public channels. According to SBS programme Director Peter Lubbers the cooperation with NU.nl adds true value. All in all, the tournament has raised the profile of both brands.

"More people watch the Champions League on SBS6 than ever did so on the Dutch public channels" 

6.     Branded content

The potential of cross-media interaction is not lost on advertisers. Quickest to make use of the new opportunities has been global brewer Heineken, which uses both platforms and even creates its own branded content. Some sponsored clips, Hoekman says, are appreciated by the users. 

“The beauty of it is that while each individual medium is growing, in this case one plus one really equals three. The wide reach of NU.nl, with options like ads on the home screen, is invaluable. And using big data enables us to provide increasingly targeted content and give advertisers as well as consumers what they want.”

7.     At the forefront of developments

“We’ve been going through a steep learning curve,” Hoekman asserts. “There have been some technical hiccups, and it takes time to find out what people want from us. The key to success is that we cater for those who engage with us. This year, we are redoubling our efforts. 

By covering the most prestigious tournament of the world’s biggest sport on multiple platforms, we’re in the forefront of developments.”