Manchester United is planning to increase its revenue stream through a deeper digital engagement with fans following a tie-up with Indian tech firm, HCL Technologies.
According to the club’s own estimates the vast majority, around 85 per cent, of its 659 million supporters live in developing countries, with more than half in Asia. The figure represents a huge potential revenue stream however not in a traditional way of attending games and visiting official merchandise stores.
It is with this in mind that Manchester United has formed a partnership with HCL Technologies, who it hopes will help generate money for the club across digital.
The club’s group managing director, Richard Arnold, said the aim was about “quality of execution - the right content to the right fans at the right time, in the right language, in the right technology format, through the right medium."
It is still unclear exactly what the partnership will entail however with 6 million Twitter followers and 66 million Facebook likes the club has huge digital audience which it hopes to interact with more efficiently. One rather vague aspect of the partnership which has been announced is that HCL will be setting up a "United Xperience Lab" at the club’s Old Trafford stadium, where it will "explore revolutionary ways in which the club uses technology to create a unified fan experience for supporters."
— HCL Technologies (@hcltech) September 3, 2015
With so many fans spread across the world and the cultural and diversity that comes with that, the club will look to tailor its digital channels to different regions so that the fans feel better connected with the club.
Krishnan Chatterjee, head of marketing at HCL's digital business division discussed this aspect of engagement with the BBC and vaguely discussed some of the ideas the company may look to implement. He said that different apps for each region could be built but added that it was “hard to say” just how many they should create.
He stressed that social media content would have to be “tailored to suit the cultural differences - not to mention the available internet speeds - of fans in different countries”. He said thatkeeping fans engaged between matches would be key to HCL’s approach because “95 per cent of them will never enter the stadium.”
HCL's chief executive Anant Gupta said the first task would be to “create a scalable, robust, industrialised platform" with content created based on feedback from focus groups and fans.