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Rakuten Viber backs e-Ligue 1, LFP highlights 3.5m social media following

Lev Vinken (FaZe Lev) of FaZe clan competes in the Finals of the FIFA eClub World Cup 2019 - Knockout Stage & Final on February 10, 2019 in London, England (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Messaging service Rakuten Viber has signed a three-year deal with e-Ligue 1, the esports offshoot of the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), the French football league.

Viber is the free, instant messenger application developed by the Japanese technology and online retail company Rakuten.

Under the deal, the brand will get visibility around e-Ligue 1 matches, players and scores. An e-Ligue 1 community will also be created by Rakuten Viber to allow players and fans to follow competition news, get tips to improve their team, or participate in matches.

Didier Quillot, executive director general of the LFP, said: “The arrival of this new partner demonstrates the attractiveness of this competition which has gathered nearly 100,000 players in three seasons since its creation. This partnership will give us the opportunity to develop e-Ligue 1’s reputation on a new social network and to gather more and more players around our competition.”

Djamel Agaoua, chief executive of Rakuten Viber, added: “Rakuten Viber has been involved for several years with classic football teams like OM (Olympique de Marseille) in France or Barça in Spain but we also work alongside e-sport clubs like Solary, Team Queso and Fnatic. Being a partner of a major competition such as e-Ligue 1 allows us to meet new users. ”

The 2019-2020 season of e-Ligue 1 started this week.

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In a separate move by the LFP, the organisation has launched a new social media account for its top-tier football league with TikTok, the short-format video platform.

The LFP’s Quillot said: “With a 155-per-cent growth in the number of foreign subscribers in one year, our international social networks are essential to the development of Ligue 1. TikTok will allow us to reach millions of fans around the world with relevant content that will highlight the attractiveness of our championship.”

In total, Ligue 1 has 3.5 million international fans on social networks, the LFP said.

After launching its Facebook and Twitter accounts in five languages ​​(French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic), its Instagram account and its accounts Weibo, WeChat, Toutiao and Douyin in China, Ligue 1 continues to expand internationally.

The Ligue 1 account launched on the Chinese platform Douyin last May already has more than 430,000 subscribers and 53 million views of its videos.

The Ligue 1 YouTube channel also recorded a new historic audience record with a total of 21 million views in September 2019. The channel has seen its audience grow by 40 per cent this season compared to last season in the first three months of the competition.

Available in French and English since 2012, the channel has a base of 1.6 million subscribers, and accumulated 150 million views in the 2018-2019 season.

More than 5,000 videos are produced and published each season, watched by an increasingly international audience – one in two subscribers are from outside France.