Deezer's partnership with Manchester United heralds in a new era for its ambitions to speak directly to consumers

Competition within the crowded streaming marketed has led Deezer to break from the pack in pursuit of sponsorship, striking a deal with Manchester United in the hope that more people will willingly download the app and in turn lessen its reliance on pre-install deals with telecommunications networks.

A vast library of music is no longer the marketing credential it once was, it’s now a prerequisite for entry into the harsh market and if the French company is to survive against its rivals in Apple and Spotify, it must stand out and do things differently.

This is where the new partnership with Manchester United comes in. Deezer has agreed a two-year deal with the Premier League club to become its official music partner. As part of the agreement Deezer will collaborate with the Premier League team to offer fans playlists created by the likes of stars Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial.

For Deezer's chief commercial officer Golan Shaked though, the deal is a digital partnership more than anything else. Ultimately the streaming service wants to increase its app downloads and to achieve that goal it needs to familiarise itself with United fans.

That’s why Deezer negotiated the deal to ensure it has a presence across Manchester United’s digital properties through the Deezer widget which will allow fans to listen to content while on the club’s site. United will also have a club channel within the Deezer app where all audio content created by the club can be shared.

When asked why a music streaming service was partnering with a football club, Shaked readily admits that United’s 600 million plus global fan base influenced their decision: “We felt that partnering with a brand like Manchester United which has such a huge reach is ideal for us given we are a global product,” says Shaked.

Without relevance though, Deezer’s partnership would fall flat, football fans have a plethora of brands trying to reach them so Deezer will have a fight on its hands in trying to squeeze into that space.

However, Shaked believes that there is a natural affinity between what it offers and what football fans look for.

“We believe music is part of the daily life. It’s the soundtrack that goes with you and football fans, just like anyone else, will enjoy music as part of their daily life experience,” says Shaked.

In addition, the platform has a wealth of football related content. As well as football podcasts, Deezer has partnerships with the likes of TalkSport which offers live commentary on Premier League games as well as many more in Europe’s other top leagues.

The United partnership also marks a shift in the music service’s growth strategy. Until now Deezer had a greater focus on partnerships with mobile operators, but the company wants to move beyond bundling the app in with news phones.

Sponsorships with the likes of global sports properties will allow it to increase its direct to consumer proposition and with that comes a more accurate reflection of what consumers want.

“The b2b partnerships are great but going directly to consumers gives us the opportunity to get people to actually choose Deezer and that gives us a clearer picture of our customer,” says Shaked.

“Focusing on direct to consumer is critical for us this year and under that strategy we can identify potential partnerships that will get us closer to the consumer.”

In order to bring new customers on board, Deezer is offering the Manchester United content for free as well as access to its Flow feature.

Shaked adds that Flow will be a major part of Deezer’s marketing next year and it will go beyond just using pop stars in its advertising because “music connects with all individuals and sports stars are individuals that connect with a lot of people".

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