Fans, fans, fans.

We tend to think of fan-centric strategies as the only magic formula to drive engagement and business.

But, do you know what was City’s biggest challenge in launching the successful Amazon Prime documentary? Getting the football side of the organisation on board.

Fan engagement starts without fans. It starts with culture, governance and innovation.

The City Football Group (CFG) and Formula 1 are two great examples of how changes in leadership shaped truly media companies and global platforms.

Unprecedented access

Manchester City’s 2008 takeover by Abu Dhabi United Group, followed by CFG’s 2019 10% stake purchase by the American private equity firm Silver Lake, fuelled a cycle of massive expansion and growth.

Besides potential financial implications for the industry, this new model placed business at the same level as football, being both integrated to emerging digital technology.

CFG’s teams are governed by two key figures, the Director of Football, leading sports operations, and the Club President, controlling business and finance. Both, aligned in growing spectacle on and off the pitch.

This culture allowed content never seen before, like high-end documentaries, live shows, 360º cams or embedded drone and production teams. In only one year and a half, the fan database more than doubled.

Attracting gamers

Formula 1’s 2017 acquisition by the international group Liberty Media became a ground-breaking opportunity. Far from losing relevance due to sustainable issues, 2021 was the best season for F1.

While audience’s habits evolved, the product transformed into entertainment and gaming. Open TV viewers had dropped 56% in the last four years, but 50% of motorsports fans play videogames.

A new management model based on emotion, technology and competition has led to F1 TV OTT, Drive to Survive Netflix documentary, F1 eSports Series and top race data.

As a result, kids’ engagement increased by 17% and viewers per race by 54% on ESPN compared to 2020, an absolute record. In 2022, the biggest-ever F1 calendar.

Where to start

Culture, governance and innovation offer the possibility to create new commercial models based on fans. From internal leadership to external impact.

To make things better we need better decisions, not the opposite. Today, football and business blend into interactions with fans, and it is up to us to make them amazing.

Sources: 2Playbook, SportsPro, City Football Group.

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