Marketers love the Super Bowl for reasons that extend beyond the game. After all, it isn’t just football teams that compete on Super Bowl Sunday. Millions of consumers get to see – and judge — the results of months of hard work on television advertisements that brands debut during the Super Bowl.
However, while those ads primarily target an American audience, here’s an interesting fact: the Super Bowl is broadcast in dozens of languages around the world. This led our research team at Smartling to ask how the NFL compares to other major sports leagues on the international front. Our findings are depicted in the infographic below.
Basketball fans, you’re supporting the winning team. The NBA does the best job in targeting non-American fans, with an impressive 10 languages for 14 countries on their website, including a separate site for Hispanics in the US. In the last three NBA seasons, they have seen a record 16 billion page views. NBA.com/China brought in 9 billion video views.
In comparison, the NFL offers just two languages (English and Spanish), while Major League Baseball has four. The National Hockey League, which is made up of many international players, offers eight languages.
Why is the NBA’s website so successful? They offer customized sites for audiences in each country – not just mirrors of their main global site. They provide a more targeted, relevant experience, using blogs from basketball players who are famous in their country or region. They also have localized social media channels that have brought them large fan followings: 70 million followers on Sina Weibo and Tencent’s microblog platforms.
This Super Bowl Sunday, as you watch the latest ads and think about how they resonate with American audiences, ask yourself how those same messages might be interpreted by football fans all over the world, and indeed, which messages and advertisements are likely being shown to those viewers instead. And, if you’re curious, check out the NBA’s site to see some of the good things they are doing to capture more international traffic and appeal to their audience with targeted content. These lessons can be useful to you, no matter where your next “fan” might be located.
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About the Author: Nataly Kelly is VP of Research at Smartling, an enterprise translation management software company based in New York. Nataly brought nearly two decades of translation industry experience when she joined Smartling, most recently serving as Chief Research Officer at industry research firm Common Sense Advisory. Previously, she held positions at AT&T Language Line and NetworkOmni (acquired by Language Line), where she oversaw product development. She is a former Fulbright scholar in sociolinguistics, a veteran translator and certified court interpreter for Spanish, has formally studied seven languages, and regularly speaks at industry shows and conferences. You can follow her on Twitter via: @NatalyKelly.