It has been well publicised recently that the world’s richest football club has taken the step of getting a YouTube brand channel. To many this may get a ‘so what’ reaction and many of the articles so far have only mentioned the news but not looked into what this means to the club and for football.
If this had been in any other industry it would not make the news as most decent sized businesses have their own channel that they spend extra on to make it look cool.
But this is football and so far they have stuck to basic marketing strategies and the biggest marketing costs they will have is a club website. Most have now (with some prodding) ventured into the new domains of Facebook and Twitter but YouTube has been largely forgotten about. But why?
This is a hard one for clubs. They are watched on TV by millions of people, at least twice a week these days, with the games being beamed all over the world. But, and it is a big BUT, they don’t own any of the match footage. This is controlled by the Premier League and broadcasters and there are numerous deals in place.
One slightly odd possibility is, though I’ve never seen the contracts (strangely enough), is that any match footage is not allowed to be shown on social media platforms. It may sound strange but am 95% sure on this one that is true.
So this leaves clubs with only their own content to use. What this does is narrow down the field of who is likely to produce their own content and use a video platform to the big clubs. Those who have their own TV studios and channels, usually on their website. Those clubs such as Man Utd, City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
One thing to point at this stage is that gaining a YouTube brand channel is not cheap and certainly not free (sorry to those were getting excited about what they can do with a channel). This is another restrictor when it comes to which clubs will follow suit with City.
What City have done, and managed to leap in front of the rest in the process, is take it seriously as an additional revenue generator and seen the possibilities. They started slowly with a normal ‘official’ YouTube channel, much the same as any of us can set up if we so wish.
This allowed them to give away content that would otherwise sit on their CityTV channel being played out to a small audience. When you are building from scratch to develop a global brand as City are, then reaching out to new fans is a must and YouTube allows that to happen.
Now they have over 4,000 subscribers to the channel and deliver regular (good) content that fans are interested in then they have been able to take the next step. A Brand Channel!
So what does this allow them to do now?
Basically it allows the club to customise how their page looks and what it can do including the channel banners, background image and branding box. They can also moderate comments and automatically redirect people depending on there geographical location (could be a good one for the future). It also opens up the possibilities with gadgets (opening up YouTube’s API), syndication (channel can live anywhere on the web) and metrics. I am a fan of ‘annotations’ which allow the linking off to other videos/sites via clickable links within the video, something you only get with a brand channel.
This last one is key to any brand being on the platform. It gives you great information on how videos (and the channel) is performing. It can also tell you more about the content you are putting up and how engaged with it people find it.
They have already made changes to the page with links to areas of their website. I especially like the map integration where you can buy tickets for upcoming games (as you can see below)…
There are opportunities to get even more creative as time goes by and we’ll see how it goes, as am sure other clubs will be doing. What it does open up when it comes to revenue, I’ve finally got round to mentioning it, is the advertising/sponsorship opportunities it presents.
They can look at running sponsors messaging on their site, incorporate annotation links within videos, have a company sponsor their page and open up another opportunity, link off to sponsor channels/videos….. there is a lot they can do to monetise this space.
Here’s what those involved had to say about the partnership;
Richard Ayers, Head of Digital, for Manchester City (who has been nominated for a DADI award!), said:
“Manchester City is having a phenomenal year of growth and development online. Our goal is to deliver a market leading experience for fans in terms of online video. That means delivering the great content we make to where the audience is – i.e. on YouTube. This deal is the first move in laying the foundations of our syndication strategy and is part of a series of deals to expand our online capabilities. The ability to extend our reach and to increase accessibility to audiences is great, but we’re also looking forward to exploring the differentiating factors of YouTube, like using annotations, making bespoke interactive video and, more than anything else, becoming part of the thriving YouTube community.”
Jeff Nathenson, Head of Sports Partnerships for YouTube, said:
“We are excited that Manchester City has become the first English Premier League club to become a commercial partner with YouTube. They are proving to be an exciting club both on the pitch and in the digital media space. We believe this kind of deal will have a global impact, allowing them to reach new fans in new territories with compelling original content.”
To finish, here are some examples of cool brand channels and what City could look to achieve (if they want to spend the money on doing it). Its great to see them pushing the boundaries and hopefully they will pull others with them.