During the unfolding of the European Super League story, many theorized as to the actual reasons as to why Europe’s top teams had decided to breakaway from their domestic leagues. While the primary motivation was undoubtedly financial, many of the clubs involved were irritated at having to share so much of their broadcasting revenues with other European teams without fanbases as large or far reaching.
The reality is that due to the popularity and size of the teams fanbases, these clubs can argue that they generate more money in broadcasting revenues than other participants in the UEFA Champions League, and they felt that they deserved to keep a greater share of these profits for themselves.
While the idea itself quickly crumbled due to an overwhelmingly negative reaction from figures within the game and fans alike, some theorized that the European Super League was a power play, and that teams may move towards controlling their own content in the future.
The world is becoming increasingly digital, thanks to developments in streaming, internet speeds and 4G/5G, among other things. Inter Milan’s announcement that they would be launching a fully rebranded ‘digital ecosystem’ comes shortly after Tottenham’s announcement that they would be launching their own streaming platform, titled Spursplay.
For £45 a year (£35 a year for season ticket holders), Tottenham fans will be able to live stream pre-season friendlies, youth matches and some women’s matches, as well as highlights and match replays of every fixture, as well as original documentaries, interviews and archive footage. Inter Milan are doing something similar with the overhaul of their ‘digital ecosystem’, which involves a fully integrated website, app, online store, and a streaming service.
The service will offer livestreams of preseason and academy games to fans, as well as original pieces of content about the men’s and women’s teams produced by the club. Sports documentaries are in ever increasing demand due to the success of shows such as All or Nothing and Sunderland ‘Til I Die.
The hope is that this will lure in more hardcore fans, who will then spend more of their time interacting with the club, who will be able to collect more data on how fans are choosing to spend their time supporting their team. The hope is that improvements to their online store, which includes making it more welcoming and accessible to worldwide fans will improve ticketing and merchandising sales and will allow the club to continue to grow their international fanbase even further.
Additionally, the club’s partners will be delegated spots on various channels which will allow them to advertise their own brands and get more value for money out of their partnerships. OTT platforms offer a number of new monetization options, which is incredibly appealing in a sport that is almost entirely driven by how much financial power a club can wield.
OTT platforms have become increasingly popular over the last decade, particularly in the last few years where many were stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. OTT platforms provide a convenience and ease of access that traditional TV sometimes doesn’t. OTT platforms can allow people to watch something on the go, whereas a TV broadcast requires you to be in front of a TV at a specific time.
The quality and power of streaming will only improve with the ongoing development of 5G increasing signal speeds, which will allow for streaming at higher resolutions and less buffering. OTT platforms must be ready to capitalize on a society where many own a smartphone which use daily for a number of functions.
This kind of partnership is mutually beneficial for both clubs and fans. Clubs unlock several different avenues of monetization that they can used to generate bigger revenues and increase their financial power, while fans will be able to access exclusive new content more directly without the barrier that broadcasting networks sometime provide.
This will increase brand loyalty amongst club fans and will allow them to feel more engaged and involved with the community that surrounds the club. Inter Milan’s announcement will be one of many to come in the following years, as clubs continue to explore and expand their digital footprints, and its likely success in soccer will almost certainly see it expand into other sports too.