People love sport. Perhaps it’s the latent early-human instinct in us that made us group into tribes and fight little wars. But even the people who say they hate sports know who won or lost the big game. It’s a cultural thing that crosses boundaries.

Take America, for instance. There are hockey teams, NFL Teams, baseball teams, and basketball teams, where every single play basically becomes a national event. You see these athletes in commercials, on billboards, in magazines. They become cultural figures that transcend their sport. And in the age of constant miracles we live in today, you can also follow your favorite athletes on social media.

Take Cristiano Ronaldo. The global football star has been a social media pioneer for athletes. He was the first athlete to get 100 million followers on Facebook in 2014. In February he became the first athlete to have 200 million followers across three social media platforms.

The baby-faced, 31-year-old footballer has the kind of social media presence that many corporations would kill for. There is no question that Cristiano Ronaldo is the top sports figure on social media today. But what about the hundreds of thousands of other professional athletes that are brands unto themselves?

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It’s this question that always gets us excited to see what our partner Brandtix is working on, because they provide the most sophisticated real-time athlete brand value index platform in the world. The London-based company is the first-ever comprehensive global index platform analyzing and evaluating an athlete’s brand.

Don’t take it from me, though. Here’s how Jon Rosenblatt, the CEO of Brandtix, described the company on the Sport Techie blog:

The purpose of Brandtix is to give football clubs and players a specific and realtime value based on playing performance and off-field digital activity; namely social media and digital reach, alongside fan sentiment. Our platform provides a completely new ‘one stop shop’ for holistic insights into player and team values, doing so in real time. The partnership with Lexalytics is a significant one, as fan sentiment analysis forms part of our data to give our platform a key differential.

Working with Brandtix is exciting for a bunch of reasons. First, there’s simply the technical challenge. Sports-talk on social media can seem like another language. When coupled with slang, it can provide some confusing terms from a sentiment analysis point of view. “That long bomb was sick!” is a positive sentiment, though typically the words “bomb” and “sick” aren’t about anything very nice.

Second, by listening directly to the fans on social media, we’ll be able to understand the dynamics of sports teams like a local. There may be a linebacker on the football team or a defenseman on the basketball or hockey team who has mediocre stats and not many endorsements. Yet, if he or she is beloved by the fans on social media, it may indicate that they have as much influence, at least locally, as the guy with the big-money contracts and endorsements.

That’s why we love partnerships with companies like Brandtix. Because it presents new challenges for us and new ways to bring the voice of the everyday fan (or customer) into the conversation in a major way.

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