This month we’re shining our spotlight on Manchester City Football club for their attitude to innovation and technology. Keep reading to find out more…
Manchester City Football Club was founded in 1880 as St Mark’s before eventually being renamed under its current guise in 1894. Historically renowned for inconsistency – most notably in 1937 when a championship winning season was followed by relegation – the club underwent seismic change in August 2008 when it was bought out by an Emirati private equity company. The arrival of the Abu Dhabi United Group saw vast investment in the club both on and off the pitch. Not only did the funds allow Manchester City to buy enough firepower to secure two Premier League titles and three domestic cups since the takeover, but it has also seen huge investment into the infrastructure behind the scenes.
Now a part of the multinational ‘City Football Group’, Manchester City have made great strides in recent years in terms of commitment to the tech industry. The club’s Director of Operations Danny Wilson reiterated this point last year to The Drum:
“We want to be more innovative, more creative and we want to be first”.
The flurry In activity off the pitch has shown that Manchester City is committed to forging a new path as far as football clubs are concerned and reap the benefits of a wide-reaching strategy with digital technology and remodelling at its heart.
All football clubs worldwide recognise the importance of maintaining a good online presence, through an official website and social media platforms. Manchester City are at the pinnacle of online content offered to fans. In July 2016, the club launched a new website which was branded a ‘co-creation’ with fans. The club proactively engaged with fans throughout the process to receive feedback and to make a series of alterations after the launch of the Beta site.
City Football Group’s Senior Vice-President of Media and Innovation Diego Gigliani commented that the site was “…designed with mobile use at the heart”. This highlights the club’s stance on innovation and their digital marketing strategy. By monitoring consumer demands, Manchester City have realised that fans want to digest their content on-the-go and the majority of their site traffic comes through mobile and tablet. To connect with fans worldwide, Manchester City’s website also comes in 13 different languages – the highest number of languages available worldwide, for any club.
Off the pitch, social media is arguably Manchester City’s strongest asset. The club continually post unique content and maintain a very strong following on all the main social media channels. Manchester City’s YouTube channel, ‘City TV’ has amassed over 850,000 subscribers making it the most subscribed official club channel in the Premier League. Manchester City also has the fastest growing Facebook page, showing a 287% increase in page likes since the 2013/14 season.
In June 2016, Manchester City introduced a Facebook ‘Messenger Bot’, a world first across any sport. Subscribers could receive direct messages from the club, breaking news, exclusive photos and behind the scenes videos. In an effort to digitally connect with fans of all ages, the club recently launched an official Snapchat account, allowing fans to view exclusive behind the scenes footage. Manchester City were also the first brand to utilise ‘Snap Spectacles’ to capture unique content, and since then many other Premier League clubs and brands have followed suit.
Digital Technology Integration
Beyond digital platforms, Manchester City has also moved quickly to integrate digital technology to the matchday experience. In January it was announced that Manchester City were to begin offering supporters the chance to experience matches in 360° virtual reality. Partnering with Jaunt, the technology is a way for fans in the UK and abroad to enjoy the game as though they were at the game. Manchester City had previously launched a virtual reality app, known as CityVR, that is compatible with the Oculus Rift and also gave fans exclusive content.
Manchester City has also been active in opening other channels for fans to access content. Last year the club launched its own app for Amazon Fire TV users. There is plenty of innovation happening behind the scenes as well, and in September the club announced a partnership with Chinese robotics company Ubtech Robotics. Although it is unclear how the technology will be used to benefit fans’ experiences at this stage, the consistent tactical leveraging of digital tech companies as sponsorship partners shows that Manchester City recognise the value of digital technology.
Hackathons are usually associated with technology companies or institutions, rather than a football club. However, last year, Manchester City became the first ever club to host a hackathon. Due to the events’ success, the club then teamed up with Google to host another in February. The focus was digital fan engagement as participants were tasked with developing new and innovative ways to reinforce a sense of community among Manchester City fans.
In a surprising move, Manchester City became the second Premier League club to venture into the eSports world. 18-year-old Kieran “Kez” Brown joined the club in July 2016 as its first eSports player, representing the club at eSports tournaments across the world playing the current incarnation of popular console game FIFA. This shows precisely how Manchester City are at the forefront In innovation within the football world.
What are your thoughts on Manchester City’s innovations? Get in touch with us via social media and share your opinions and don’t forget to read more of our spotlight articles.