The best reputation management I’ve ever seen

In the course of doing some research into the online presence of UK football clubs (soccer, if you're reading in the US), I discovered that a huge number of them are based on a platform provided by a company called Premium TV. For some of the larger clubs, e.g. Chelsea it is not immediately obvious, but for most of their football clients, they host the website on a sub-domain of their own site:

- Reading - Portsmouth - Newcastle United


Having discovered this, I obviously wanted to know a bit more about the company behind all these sites, so I first did a Google search for Premium TV before realising that Pay-Per-View is often called Premium TV so I couldn't get the results I wanted about just the company so I did a search for premiumtv. This is where I found the best reputation management I have ever seen. Because of their relationship with so many large clubs (who have 301'd powerful domains to their sub-domains), you have to look to the ninth page of Google search results before finding a single result not controlled by the company (and that is a job advert!).

Image: premiumtv

The image above shows part of the eighth page of Google search results for their company name. I expected them to have a lot of high up results, but was surprised by the extent of their dominance - it's not as if these football club homepages have premiumtv in their titles or in the text on the page. It appears to have been achieved purely by domain weight, exact match on the domain and the fact that many of the inbound links use the URL in the anchor text.

There is a similar story if you try to look for news about them, or if you restrict your search to specific news websites - the BBC and the FT for example mention football clubs' websites rather than talking about the company itself.

Intrigued about how this came about, I called their press department and was told that they:

> "have a relationship with the football leagues but have negotiated individual deals with the clubs."

It appears that they inherited the rights from an earlier deal distributing digital rights to UK football matches. Their stranglehold on the market is quite astonishing - their press office confirmed that they have:

> "about 14 of the premiership clubs and most of the Championship and Conference clubs"

An interesting side-effect of this is that Alexa can't distinguish between any of these clubs (or between the clubs and the company itself). All the usual caveats against using Alexa for SEO apply, but it should in theory have been interesting in this market, since the websites are in the same industry so we shouldn't see the same kind of skew you get comparing sites across different sectors.

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About the author
Will Critchlow

Will Critchlow

Will founded Distilled with Duncan in 2005. Since then, he has consulted with some of the world’s largest organisations and most famous websites, spoken at most major industry events and regularly appeared in local and national press. For the...   read more