FC Barcelona has announced plans to launch a subscription-based over-the-top streaming service as it seeks to develop its digital business into one of its main sources of income.
The new service, Barça TV+, is part of a strategy to develop and launch a range of club-owned platforms, without intermediaries, to gain a greater understanding of fan tastes and habits.
The club indicated the platform will feature replays of first team matches, documentaries about the club and live coverage of women’s and youth team matches, in addition to archive footage and player interviews.
Content for the new platform will be created by Barça Studios, the Spanish club’s new centralised production unit, launched in September last year.
In a presentation of the club’s new digital strategy in Barcelona, figures including club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Dídac Lee, head of digital, said Barça TV+ will form part of an ecosystem of Barcelona-themed digital products and services.
Fans will be invited to join a ‘Culés’ global digital membership programme, after the nickname given to the club’s supporters. Membership will grant fans access to premium-content Barcelona products, including the new OTT service, discounts and exclusive access to tickets, club products and benefits.
The club indicated the new digital service will be free at the point of registration, but fans will have to pay a subscription to gain access to the best content and benefits. Data insights will be gleaned by the clubs Fan Relationship Management platform.
“We can now use digital technology to find out who our fans are and what they want,” said Bartomeu. “That is why we are developing in-house platforms that can use data analysis methods to offer our fans a wide range of content, products and services that are adapted to their needs.”
The club has also announced plans to digitise ticket sales, merchandising and the matchday experience with an overall objective of tripling digital revenues in the next five years.
“This new model involves a new evolution in terms of our revenue streams. The new income from the digital business will allow us to continue with our ownership structure, which is in the hands of our 140,000 members,” said Bartomeu.
However the club said it will continue to develop its global audience on third-party social media platforms, and continue to leverage new platforms and programmes, like its Barça eSports team, to engage with younger audiences.
Lee said: “We are competing with new and unexpected competitors outside of stadiums – we are competing on mobile, television and computer screens for the attention. Our competitors are now also major corporations and content platforms. With this in mind, if we can seize the opportunity, we will capture a much bigger piece of the market, which will also present new business opportunities that didn’t exist before”.
Barcelona topped the most recent Deloitte Football League for the 2018-19 season, registering €840.8m (£741.1m/$935.9m) in revenues. The club has ambitions to be the first to register more than €1bn in revenues.