Why Football Clubs Are Digital Publishers

football clubs as digital publishersFootball and digital publishing: one involves kicking a ball into a net, the other doesn’t. But they have more in common than we might think.

Sports franchises have been turning into media brands for some time, explains an article on Digiday, and Manchester United is a perfect example.

Before it embraced all things digital, the club already had a huge global reach. In 2011, when it unveiled its ambitious social media plans, many saw it as a knee-jerk reaction to the popularity of Facebook. However, earlier this year when the club announced the launch of its MUTV digital app, it was seen as a strategic decision to monetise its growing audience.

Thanks to a range of social and digital channels, Manchester United has extended its reach and accelerated its growth. With much of its fan base in the US, the app will be heavily promoted during the club’s current tour of North America. Fans who download the app can watch all five matches broadcast live on the club’s MUTV channel.

But as we know, there’s more than one football club in Manchester. Diego Gigliani is SVP of Media and Innovation at Manchester City’s owner City Football Group. He explains the importance of understanding and reaching the club’s audience: “Whether in virtual reality, wearables or ad tech, it’s incredibly important that both tactically and strategically we are close to consumer trends and ensuring our content remains relevant to our fans and is delivered to them when and how they want it.”

Digital channels are also helping level the playing field between higher- and lower-ranking clubs. A 2014 KPMG study of popular football clubs revealed that a lower-ranking club (in terms of fans and revenue) such as Liverpool FC was able to command a higher commercial revenue per follower compared to a higher-ranking club such as Real Madrid.

The race is on to discover which clubs become the best content producers. In the words of Rafael de los Santos, Real Madrid’s Global Head of Digital: “At the end of the day, we’re a football club; we dedicate our activity to football, but in reality what we are is a content company.”

And if that’s not content working as a game changer, I don’t know what is…

Date Published : 14th of July 2017

Steve Odart

Published by : Steve Odart

About the Author : Steve Odart is the founder of Ixxus, with 28 years experience in the publishing industry. He started life at the London College of Printing, following his grandfather into the printing industry. He spent many years working with Quark through its launch of Quark XPress, and the Quark Publishing System, before setting up a publishing division within one of the UK’s largest Sun Microsystems Resellers. He then joined Oracle, as EMEA Business Development Director – Publishing and Media, prior to founding Ixxus in 2004. Steve has an extensive knowledge of publishing past, present and future, and has worked with the majority of the largest global publishers in his career to date.