The big football clubs are becoming their own media companies, smaller clubs can too.
Big football clubs have always been the suppliers of expensive paid content but it’s becoming a growing trend for them to produce their own media materials and own the means to diffuse them. From docu-soaps to TV channels to fully equipped production companies, the big clubs have been active in taking control of their own media outlets. But if all this is available to the big clubs, it can be to the smaller ones as well with new types of versatile apps appearing on the market that allow clubs with smaller budgets to do this, albeit on a more modest scale.
Football clubs in the new age of entertainment.
Football clubs are getting active in producing all sorts of content for viewing pleasure, and not just football matches! Whilst certain clubs, like FC Milan, have invested in state-of-the-art studio facilities, going the whole hog into production, others have teamed up with streaming companies.
Bayern Munich, for instance, launched a multi part docu-soap series on Amazon Prime. Amazon already has other similar programs on football but also on Rugby and American football. They are far from the only one banking on this type of program, London’s Tottenham hotspurs’ docu-soap had audiences on the edge of their seats last season and ‘Sunderland Til I die’ showed the world the real beating heart of the deprived Northern city and gathered a cult following!
Nothing is stopping smaller clubs from making fly-on-wall / reality TV programs about the everyday life of their team. Fans love to see the hard work put into training, planning matches, and the players’ human interactions and emotions on a daily basis off the field. Most smart phones now offer great integrated video cameras which produce professional quality footage when well used (think of all the Instagram influencers) and, with an app like the one powered by Dividis, the live stream TV or the video sharing options mean easy sharing to the whole fanbase.
Larger fan base.
The great thing about this new type of football-related entertainment is that it has brought football into households and more and more to the attention of women and children who may previously not have been obvious viewers. Football is becoming more popular with women generally and these new TV shows are sure to increase the trend. Having more television presence and more diversified sports-related programs, not just matches, attracts a larger and more diverse fan base. Steaming channels like Apple, Netflix, Amazon and Disney have understood this and are betting on sports.
For smaller clubs the same applies, a more varied array of football related programs brings in other members of the family and creates an emotional connection above and beyond just the game. By watching the everyday struggles of the players, fans feel closer to them and for many, this makes them more relatable. People who may not usually watch football can be easily drawn in and come widen the fan base and audience.
Football clubs having their own TV channels is not a novelty. Manchester United started in the late 90’s with MUTV, which is still going strong and is now downloadable in app form. Indeed, clubs are now starting to earn from their own streaming channels with their own exclusive content for paying subscribers. FC Barcelona’s own streaming channel for instance, Barça TV+, is supplied by the production company Barça Studios. The price for a premium subscription is 44.99 euros per year.
Certain club-owned channels like Chelsea TV have decided to go the ‘free’ way and are financing their TV channels through advertising. For smaller clubs, the option is there too. Apps, like the Dividis one, offer live stream TV options; it is then just up to the club to find the time and team to create the content. Like Chelsea, smaller clubs can offer the TV channel for free and cover their costs with advertising.
One of the advantages of having a streaming channel for the big clubs, apart from the obvious ones, is also to collect viewing/viewer data which will feed into the Club’s Customer Relationship Management.
The digital revolution means clubs have access to their fans’ data and now know their fans better than ever before. Rather than let the big social media companies take this data, clubs are keeping it and using it to work more efficiently with their sponsors and advertisers and provide the content their fans want to see. Having information on what people continue watching and what people tune off from, as well as what people click on, helps big clubs create good content that their fanbase wants. It is also a useful tool to work efficiently with advertisers.
A lot of data can be knowledgeably and voluntarily collected from fans – who will happily share it – by smaller clubs, giving them access to valuable data without data mining. This increases their value to advertisers and sponsors and helps create good content that keeps the fans interested and connected.
Advertising space and sponsorship.
Big clubs like Antwerp create their own content in partnership with a video production company and generate huge income (think 1 million euros). Sale of ad space to advertisers and sponsors makes up a large portion of their digital revenues. Antwerp offers them three different types of content: what the team does on a daily basis, formats on match-day and visibility on Antwerp digital platforms.
Thanks to the digital revolution, much smaller advertisers can now buy slots in clubs’ social media or streaming channels, vastly widening the variety and size of sponsor and advertising money. This, of course, is good news for small clubs too. If they have their own platform, they can offer cost-effective, versatile and interesting advertisement space to their sponsors and advertisers, even if these are ‘only’ small local businesses.
Exclusive access to certain matches for fans.
By controlling their own content, clubs can now offer exclusivity to their fans. The big Bulgarian club Levski recently made the streaming of their friendlies with another team only visible to fans who had downloaded their app, powered by Dividis. There was no other place to view these games. The number of fans on the app increased hugely during this exclusive offer.
Complete control of content, who sees it and when, is one of the great benefits of the digital revolution for football clubs and having their own communication and media platform.
Fan ‘privilege accounts’.
Fans enjoy being privileged members of their communities. A fan club ‘account’ card that gives discounts is a great reward for loyal fans. Working closely with sponsors and advertisers, clubs can offer all sorts of great deals to their supporters. This creates a big incentive for using the platform to shop and to discover new (club endorsed) products at a reduced price. It can also offer exclusivity on certain viewing, options to buy match tickets early-and with special seating-, and many other little bonuses that fans will appreciate.
Be there (on an app) or be square!
The take away of this digital media revolution in the big clubs is this: that’s what fans want. Big streaming and media companies are already cashing in on this too. What is great is that all of this is now available to smaller clubs too. The tools are out there to make and diffuse quality content on a small budget. Some apps offer a swiss-knife toolkit for clubs to diffuse live, share video content, have great ad space, offer deals, get their fans’ opinion and (voluntarily-given) data and, well, communicate and showcase. There are no reasons for these smaller clubs to be left behind in this great new opportunity and what looks like will be the future of football media.