Man City join Real Madrid and Juventus as online race hots up
As online streaming around sport gathers pace, the live action aspect is only one part of a growing trend.
Earlier this year, Real Madrid produced a documentary series called Hala Madrid with the aid of their partner GoPro and in order to help launch Facebook’s new Watch feature, which has rolled out in the US.
That was a look into what goes on behind the scenes at Madrid, the world’s most followed club on social media and one of the most successful football sides in the world. Ever since their five European Cup victories in a row in the 1950s and 60s, Real have been synonymous with success, and even last season they became the first team to win back-to-back Champions League titles, the same competition in its modern, more competitive, format. They were probably the perfect team for such a series.
Then this week we learned that Juventus, their fellow Champions League finalists from last season, had reached a deal with Netflix to create a similar fly-on-the-wall docuseries following the club’s players at training, on away trips and on matchdays, giving fans and interested onlookers alike the opportunity to see behind the curtain of one of Europe’s grandest old sporting institutions. It was another great fit.
Now, perhaps not to be outdone by Facebook and Netflix, the Daily Mail have reported that Amazon have finalised a deal with Manchester City to create a similar documentary.
This one, it is reported, is a little more difficult than the others given the Premier League’s media rights structure and the fact that there has been some clamour over the idea that Amazon themselves might even bid for rights to live games when the next invitation to tender comes up very soon.
For anyone interested in how streaming platforms aim to broaden their sports portfolios beyond the rights to live sport, the threat traditional broadcasters face from these online streamers isn’t really the story here. Rather, the race for those live rights seems to be increasingly paralleled by a race for extra long form, on-demand content around these great sporting clubs. And Facebook’s foray into that area with Real Madrid may well have sparked reactions from Netflix and Amazon Prime, whose platforms would appear to be a more natural fit for this kind of content, and it will be interesting to see just how much Facebook intends to get into the OTT game with Watch.
On top of everything, though, all of this comes at a time when the narration and chatter around sport has never been greater. Not only does a storyline seem to weave itself into every weekend fixture, but the rise of social media videos and podcasts has created an outlet for mountains of content to be produced around the sport itself – all without the need for rights to actually show any of it live.
Over the next few months, then, perhaps we’ll start to see more additional programming around football as online platforms attempt to look into this fairly untapped area of content, and work with football clubs to create the sorts of behind-the-scenes content fans seem to love in shorter form on their newsfeeds already.
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