Study compares social stars' influence with top sports stars

Study compares social stars' influence with top sports stars

Digital agency Exposure has conducted a study to find the top sports influencers in the UK, and has found that professional stars still wield more clout than online figures.

The company analysed social media platforms as well as appearances in books, newspapers and on TV, plus "recent scandals" (sorry Wayne) and charity work, scoring each person on more than 2,000 metrics.

And the champions are... rugby player Sam Warburton and footballer Jamie Vardy, who came joint top of Exposure's chart, with current and recently-retired pros dominating its upper reaches.

They were joined in the top 10 by swimmer Adam Peaty, rugby player Owen Farrell, presenter Gareth Thomas, diver Tom Daley, athletics commentator Dame Jessica Ennis, footballer Marcus Rashford, UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger, and football presenter Gary Lineker.

However, further down the list, online stars made their presence felt. YouTube channel Copa90 was breathing down Lineker's neck in 11th spot, with fitness influencer Joe Wicks (12th) close behind them.

This reflects an ongoing facet of the online-influencers world: it is still largely online fame, plus offline events for the fans that follow these stars' and channels' online presence. Newspaper and TV coverage in particular tends to still favour traditional stars.

It's also true that the latter group now includes a number of stars who have large social followings of their own. Warburton and Vardy have 384,000 and 599,000 Twitter followers respectively, for example, although they're some way behind Daley (2.7 million) and Lineker (6.8 million) on that metric.

Contributing Editor

Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)