Manchester City is using technology on and off the pitch as it looks to build its fanbase and win trophies
The club has hosted a hackathon, partnered with a robotics firm, filmed a match in virtual reality (VR) and has its own VR application. It even signed an eSports player, Kieran Brown, who represents City at FIFA tournaments around the world and at fan events.
Based on-site is CityTV, the club’s in-house television station, and the club has a presence on all the major social networks, tailoring content for each one. But which is the most important?
“In terms of what is the biggest [social network], then yes, it’s Facebook,” said Gigliani. “But it’s hard to say if one p[platform is better than the other. In terms of view counts or impressions then Facebook will deliver the most because it has the most active users. But when you’re looking for the best place to put a certain type of content then each platform is different.
His team create content for all the club’s teams and in August it became the first English professional women’s team to stream a competitive game on Facebook Live and now several matches have been broadcast.
“It’s up to us to see how different content works on different platforms. Facebook Live is an emerging platform with a growing reach and we wanted to see what kind of audience we could get.”
“Everyone’s trying to grow the women’s sport so we can see if this is a viable platform complementary to TV broadcasts.”
Video is of course instrumental but live matches and highlights for Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League games are held by broadcasters. Gigliani said its his team’s job to create value from other assets
“The model we have now where central bodies manage the highest value content is right because of the growth [in revenue],” he said. “The space we operate in is outside that and we have to see if we have content of value and the answer is that we do.
“In that model, we are able to create stuff that is complementary.”
Gigliani admitted he keeps track of what other clubs are doing but wouldn’t be drawn into where the thought City sat in a digital Premier League. He also said he looks at other forms of entertainment competing for supporters’ time.
Each new fan is a source of revenue for the club that can power their success in the future. Man City might have significant digital ambitions but its still on-field success that is seen as the measure of success.
“The ultimate goal for any football club is to win on the pitch,” he said. “There are a lot of things we can’t control on the pitch but what we can try to do is help create a larger fan base and a larger structure to help bring the best players. We are a means to an end rather than [fans for fans sake].”
“By having a bigger fanbase, we can drive more value: attract more partners who want to be associated with you or drive shirt sales. There are many different things that work with a large fan base.”