Club-produced content works wonders – but only if it’s done right

There’s sport, and then there’s all of the peripheral frills that surround it.

From betting on sport and fantasy football, to the simple pleasure of the social experience; watching a game or a fight with your friends over a beer. Sport has always been much more than just the event itself.

With social media now seeping into our lives more and more, it makes sense that people want to stay connected to the world while watching the game, too. Even if you’re watching in your bedroom by yourself, you still want to be in touch with your friends who are also watching, you want to be connected to the stats, to opinion and reaction, and you’ll probably also want player bios, news articles, injury and player news, even live betting odds, perhaps.

It’s also the thinking behind new-fangled content aggregators like Dugout, a venture backed by some of the most powerful and recognisable clubs in world football, whose aim is to collate all of the social media posts from each of the clubs and players that you follow onto a social media-style timeline. Why follow your favourite club or player on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat when you can do it on just one platform instead?

What’s most interesting about Dugout is its connection to the clubs themselves. Football clubs, like any other organisation, want to keep control of their brands and what their brand is linked to. The difference is that football clubs are also some of the more exposed brands in that they’re exposed every week, in stadiums with thousands of fans and millions of worldwide spectators, with the chance for bad tackles, bad behaviour and bad results. All of which can lead to bad press.

It’s not surprising that clubs would want to come together to try and direct as much of the audience as they can to what is, effectively, a safe space for their brand. But by cutting out the danger, does it just leave everything that little bit more sanitised?

At the same time, though, more and more clubs are creating good content that fans genuinely like. Recently, Manchester City Women signed American midfielder Carli Lloyd, and generated useful, well-written and well-presented content around the signing.

It feels important that, if clubs are going to try to get more involved in creating content around the sporting side of their organisations and direct their fans to it, the content needs to be of good – and honest – quality.

Manchester United, too, are taking a similar approach. This week, the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward launched a new app on a conference call with investors (H/T SportTechie.com). The app gives fans to access live radio coverage of all their games, as well as highlights, analysis and behind-the-scenes footage. Unfortunately, due to Premier League rights issues, the app won’t be available in the UK, but for fans from around the world, it’s an exciting development.

It looks like we’re only going to see more club produced content, but what we want more of is the latter-style content, the type that adds something to the experience of the fan, rather than simply collating all the club’s social media posts into one single, non-native platform.

Fans will always look for the periphery around the sport, the betting, the fantasy sport, the access to players, and the analysis. Clubs can’t control all of it, but the bits they do control shouldn’t be benign or safe – it should be daring and entertaining, engaging and enlightening. Because in the end, if club-produced content is those things, why would fans ever go anywhere else?

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 130 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and a regular contributor to Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan91

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