ManU on Wednesday "became the last club in the top football flight to join Twitter," and within two hours "had more followers than the three most recently promoted teams combined," according to Aglionby & Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The N.Y.-listed club also launched on China microblogging site Sina Weibo, which has 500 million users. Foreign-language Twitter feeds will follow, the club said. Within an hour, the EPL champions account, @ManUtd, had 108,000 followers. ManU still has "some catching up to do." Among the club’s main domestic rivals, Arsenal has more than 2.5 million followers, Chelsea 2.38 million, Liverpool 1.78 million, Man City 992,000 and Tottenham Hotspur 521,000. Within two hours, the club had 137,000 followers, "overtaking the combined followings" of Hull City, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City, promoted from the championship last season (FT, 7/10).
LONG TIME COMING: In London, John Reynolds reported ManU had previously "resisted launching an official Twitter account despite having a considerable presence on Facebook," where it has 34 million "likes." One reason for launching on Twitter now is that the club "is thought to be close to appointing a social media campaign manager." Twitter will offer ManU the chance "to work on commercial opportunities with its partners, such as promoted tweets" (GUARDIAN, 7/10).
German public broadcaster ARD "will provide live coverage from EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia," according to Frederic Servatius of QUOTENMETER. ARD "will live broadcast all preliminary round games of the German national basketball team from the tournament, which starts on Sept. 4." The total number of games that the channel will broadcast "is dependent on the team's performance." In addition to the three preliminary round games of the German national team, ARD "will broadcast all second round matches of the team as well as possible quarterfinal and semifinal games." However, the final, which will take place on Sept. 22, "is not part of the rights package acquired by the ARD." The reason for it "has not been announced." However, it is possible that German free-to-air TV channel Sport1 "will acquire the rights to games that ARD is not showing" (QUOTENMETER, 7/10).
New channel BT Sport "has won the race" to screen the Aug. 9 testimonial match for ManU's Rio Ferdinand, according to Ruki Sayid of the London DAILY MIRROR. It is the first time a U.K. football testimonial "will be broadcast to a global audience." Sprinter Usain Bolt reportedly was to to play for ManU in the testimonial (DAILY MIRROR, 7/10). NBC SPORTS' Nick Zacardi reported Bolt's agent said in an email that Bolt "will not play" in the friendly the day before the 100m heats at the world championships. Bolt’s agent, Ricky Simms, said that Bolt "would have loved to play had the match been on a suitable date after track season" (NBC SPORTS, 7/9). CABLE's Nigel Adie reported the friendly between ManU and La Liga side Sevilla will take place at Old Trafford, with BT predicting that "it could prove to be one of the most-watched testimonials ever due to the coverage provided by Streamworks' global streaming operation." Viewers in up to 170 countries "will be able to tune into the game via a dedicated website" and, under the terms of the deal with BT, all football fans in the U.K. "can access the stream free of charge" (CABLE, 7/9).
German free-to-air TV channel RTL "has acquired the rights to the German national football team's qualification games for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, a total of 20 games," according to Fabian Riedner of QUOTENMETER. The matches of the other European nations, as has been the case on German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, "will air in a hightlight show." Between Sept. '14 and Oct. '17, RTL "will show all German national team games with the exception of int'l friendlies" (QUOTENMETER, 7/10).
China's messaging app WeChat "is stepping up its courtship of users outside its home market," kicking off an int'l ad campaign featuring football player Lionel Messi, according to Anita Chang Beattie of AD AGE.
WeChat already "has more than 300 million registered user accounts, including 70 million outside China, mostly in Asian markets." Tencent, the Internet giant that developed WeChat, "has previously promoted the app in markets such as Thailand, India and Mexico using local celebrities, but the Messi campaign is the first time Tencent's using a single ad to target multiple markets." Tencent spokesperson Katie Lee said,
"He's well known in a lot of markets globally. He is a WeChat user and he's used the product for a while." The campaign "targets 15 markets," including Argentina and Spain, where Messi is a superstar. The others are Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey (AD AGE, 7/10
FATHER'S DAY: CAMPAIGN INDIA reported the global film titled "Father's day" introduces Messi as "World Player of the Year" and "Great Dad." Created by Stardust USA, it shows him "helping an old lady entertain a crying infant using the app's video calling feature." Stardust USA Managing Dir Dexton Deboree said, "Creating a campaign that incorporated the unique features of the application and working them around Messi was both challenging and fun at the same time" (CAMPAIGN INDIA, 7/8).
The Premier League "will continue discussions with all the relevant authorities" ahead of the announcement of the first wave of live TV fixtures for the '13-14 season. It is understood if all negotiations are completed, "then an announcement on fixtures changes could be made" by Thursday (London INDEPENDENT, 7/10). ... The BBC has apologized after more than 700 viewers complained that the result of the F1 German Grand Prix qualifying "was given away before the highlights were broadcast" (London EVENING STANDARD, 7/10).