Is the Future of Football in the lap of Social Media?
Picture the apocalyptic scene … Manchester United starts to sell its live games as per view on MUTV. Other BIG Clubs follow – Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Aston Villa … Sky pulls the plug on the Premier League (PL) in the hunt for subscriber-hungry viewers. Then what!
The knock on effect for Football in England could be catastrophic. Equally, it could prove very lucrative for the remainder of the PL and the Championship i.e., Sky puts the money into what some consider ‘real’ football. Time will tell. Whatever, TV money isn’t going to last forever for all. It’s only a matter of time before one of the BIG boys pull out of the Sky deal and sells live games direct via a dedicated You Tube Channel, or through their own Websites. Indeed, this week, Manchester City has announced its intention to fully exploit You Tube as a part of its communications strategy (@social_bear tweet – Man City is possibly the richest club in the world, but there can be little doubt who’s the smartest! ow.ly/6TBBy #marketingweek) and Liverpool have brought the argument for revenue outside of the Sky agreement to the public domain (Liverpool FC make thoughts on Sky deal public – http://ow.ly/6VAdC). Is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning for the Sky/PL deal?
Irrespective of whether the Sky/PL deal in its current state implodes and even if it does, it might just be the best thing that happens to the remaining clubs, assuming a deal for ‘real’ football is struck. Whatever, the ‘real’ fans are where revenue growth lies and social media is the key to the door. Manchester United and Spanish counterparts, Barcelona and Real Madrid share 43.5 million Facebook fans between them (http://ow.ly/6XcIC). Arsenal, that most traditional of clubs, is turning to social media to increase its active fan base. It believes it has c. 100 million fans Worldwide, but has just 8% interacting via Facebook (@social_bear – Arsenal sees the opportunity to increase fan base engagement from 8M to 100M using social media – http://ow.ly/6v0kt #marketingweek). The plan is to increase its Facebook interactions to capture the additional 92 million fans – Wow! The commercial upside becomes very clear.
The difference between missing the Sky revenue or not in the nightmare scenario (for the implied so called lesser PL clubs) could be hidden in the take up of social media. Social media has the power to communicate one to one with a captive audience (and let’s face it, we football fans, the ‘real’ fans, would do almost anything to help support our beloved clubs … I recall the words of the famed Bill Shankley, ‘Football’s not about life and death, it’s more important than that!’). Of my twenty-five years in marketing and technology I can recall no greater opportunity for football clubs (or any organisation come to that) to engage with their fans, ask them what they want, give them what they want and reap the inevitable rewards.
Those clubs that act now in devising and implementing social media strategy will survive and thrive, irrespective of the longer term position of TV revenues, and those that don’t won’t!
Written by Simon Allen, Social Bear
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