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The Premiership and Conference leagues of online video by Ben Darby I n a digital age where football clubs stand on multiple platforms, it’s the tribal ideologies and camaraderie that tie fan communities and club media together. But although personality and branding is key, so is the technology and functionality that powers the media content globally. Manchester United were ranked 6th most recognisable brand in a world-wide poll, but with an estimated total of 330 million followers, it is claimed that over 190 million of Manchester United fans are based in Asia. So how important is it for the club to maintain its commercial identity through online media platforms? The answer: Very. In a digital world where clubs stand on multiple media platforms, it is vital to maintain commercial identity across multi-media channels. many other premiership football clubs who still have players hosted on a separate or third party site. This latter separation of content means online viewing and navigation becomes far less attractive than a fully integrated model which fits cohesively within the full branding of a clubs website. Within Liverpool’s site, a user can also associate a thumbnail with a ‘tweet’ – which attracts twitter followers to the liverpoolfc.tv site itself. Sharing content that is synonymous with a club’s brand like this is key because it adds to the clubs overall digital narrative. A less successful model can be seen at AC Milan. Searching for AC Milan video content will direct you to a YouTube page - a YouTube page that is not significantly different to the tens of millions of other channels that exist elsewhere on the site. The YouTube page will also encourage users to start browsing videos that have nothing to do with the club by listing thumbnails from foreign channels. For a highly recognisable Online Video has become the leading tool for sharing brand such as AC Milan that attracts followers football’s greatest moments and developments. So globally, it would seem its online video offering for teams such as Manchester United it becomes falls short of its reputation and clear identity. a universally communicative device that distributes This contradiction is why the StreamMP platform has high quality content to wider audiences whilst simultaneously spreading brand awareness globally. evolved with a focus on brand cohesion and follower engagement, leading to the development of what The truth is there is little excuse for a club’s StreamUK call Tribal Technology; a set of features online video platform not to contain assets which allow Liverpool’s offering to sit directly in-line and functionality visually associated with the with the club’s brand and online make-up, as well as brand, but there is still a large amount including become distinctively recognisable to fans accessing premiership clubs that still offer an online video video content from all over the globe. Players are fully service that seems alien to the clubs image. customisable in terms of colours, fonts, design and An example of a club currently getting it right features, allowing Liverpool to brand all elements of is Liverpool FC whose online liverpoolfc.tv is the video experience. In terms of the fan experience, now reported to be the most successful [online Stream MP has also developed features enabling video subscription service] of any football the user to explore and share content in the way club in the world. In 2011, Liverpool opted to they want to, such as the ability to capture time- work with online media experts StreamUK to specific sporting moments within the video content fully revamp its offering. The club now uses and share with friends and social communities. StreamUK’s online video platform StreamMP to Over 100 years ago club founders took bold power its online video service, a service which decisions in establishing the colours for football now has nearly 50,000 paid subscribers. clubs all over the world. These colours and So what makes Liverpool’s online video platform so patterns have been the marketing foundation for special? Well for a start it is fully branded and sits commercial incentives and merchandising that within the Liverpool website, unlike generates enormous sums of revenue whilst increasing brand awareness and broadening fan communities. Therefore it is crucial that online video platforms reinforce the clubs persona and in doing so, become more familiar with both new and life-long fans. Tribal Technology is a solution that not only preserves the club’s brand but also strengthens social communication, allowing natural fan engagement and interaction to occur. 64 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE