Spreading volleyball across the globe

FIVB, the governing body for volleyball worldwide, is engaging fans and achieving an ambitious vision—to spread volleyball across the globe, at every level.

Volleyball is the world’s third most popular sport. It was even the most watched sport during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, according to the International Olympic Committee. As the sport experiences a global boom, the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) is partnering with Microsoft to launch a new digital platform that will help FIVB reach an even larger audience by changing the way people watch and experience volleyball. They’re starting by creating an experience to connect fans with a world beyond their local teams.

Volleyball has a massive fan base. It’s a global sport, but it has been delivered to consumers locally. This means that no consumer has the chance to experience the sport in the same way across the world.

- Guido Betti, TV and Marketing Director for FIVB

This was the impetus behind their creation of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) earlier this year, a volleyball competition similar to a World Cup that will bring together men’s and women’s national teams from across 23 countries to compete in more than 240 matches around the world over the course of eight weeks. It will culminate in a women’s final in China and a men’s final in France this July, offering equal prize money to the winner of each event. The hope is that the VNL will raise the sport to a new level in terms of broadcasting and fan engagement.

Polish team thanking fans

And who are volleyball’s biggest fans? They’re young, ranging mostly from 16 to 44 years old. They’re international, with 343 million fans in Asia, 139 million in Europe, and 102 million in North America. They’re almost equally men and women, much like the players themselves. And above all, they’re deeply loyal to their sport.

The next part of the plan is to engage fans where they already are—that is, in digital spaces. With the help of Microsoft’s Digital Sports Platform and an associated mobile app, they’ll be able to target fans on social media to build a global following, develop video and live-streaming content on game days and beyond, build experiences and products in the cloud that connect fans to one another, and along the way, gain insights into the people who love volleyball most.

Polish fans cheering on their team
Polands team enters the field prior to the match
Poland Walbrzych FIVB Volleyball Nations League Women Match No108 Poland vs Russia
A view of the packed stadium during the China vs Russia match at the FIVB Volleyball nations league tournament
Volleyball is the world’s third most popular sport. It was even the most watched sport during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, according to the International Olympic Committee.
This year, FIVB launched the Volleyball Nations League (VNL), a competition similar to a World Cup that will bring together national teams from across 23 countries to compete in more than 240 matches around the world.
Volleyball's fan base is almost equally men and women. The VNL will offer equal prize money to the winner of the women’s final in China as well as the winner of the men’s final in France this July.
The hope is that the VNL will raise the sport to a new level in terms of broadcasting and fan engagement—all with the goal of making volleyball the number one family sport worldwide.

Long-term, FIVB has an even grander vision. As their fan base unifies, they have their sights set  on growing the sport through new players and teams, increased sponsorships, and broader coverage—all in service of making volleyball the number one family sport worldwide.