As clubs in Europe’s many leagues look toward a return, titans like Real Madrid are adapting to the sport’s socially-distanced next step, making its own changes and observing where fans are leading.

Speaking on a recent webinar, Michael Sutherland, Chief Transformation Officer at Real Madrid, explained how “the reality is that there’s no beginning and there’s no end; it’s a continual process of being able to adapt. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report What a galactico does at home: Real Madrid looks to its transformed future.)

“The ultimate goal is to be able to observe these things that are happening in the market and you can quickly start to prototype those concepts.”

Most football clubs sell merchandise and operate retail businesses – and “once upon a time maybe that seemed odd”, he remarked.  This, too, was an adaptation.

Like so many other companies, Madrid is trying to work out what behaviours are reactions to a temporary situation or whether they will stick.

During the lockdown in March, and from which Spain is now undergoing a cautious relaxation, the club pivoted its content strategy toward continuing to provide value to fans and, therefore, maintain the visibility of brand partners. With a long and successful history, the club could rely on popular past footage, but some of the organic content has proved extremely fruitful.

Some players took their skills online. Madrid forward Marco Asensio won the LaLiga Santander Challenge – a tournament in which players face off as their own teams. This provided extra fodder for the brand’s channels.

It also spurred the adoption of a new channel on Twitch, which the club put together in two days. It’s currently a discovery process, Sutherland said, but one that springs from that crossover between traditional and electronic sports as the Asensio example shows.

While any full conclusions are still a way off, video-game streaming offers a way to host a game of some kind and bring out a personality while engaging other networks by bringing in high-profile fans or players.

It signals a shift from social as a broadcast channel that players are more or less forced to do, towards one where a representative of the club actively interacts with fans.

The player’s voice is going to become more important as part of what the club employs, Sutherland noted.

Sourced from WARC