If you missed it, the digest will now be published on Wednesdays and Fridays. Here is Wednesday’s one, including analysis on the Streamer wars that is seeing the likes of Ninja, Shroud and CouRage moving to Mixer and Youtube gaming, the proxy war between Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
There is a fantastic piece from Sid Lowe in The Guardian about Athletic Bilbao and the ways it seeks to win off the pitch with its fans. It is the top story in the content section.
Football clubs are more than just sporting clubs. They are a cultural phenomenon that reaches far beyond the white lines of the football pitch. Fewer are greater examples of this than Athletic Bilbao.
They are rooted in their history and only field players from the Basque Country and doing so whilst never being relegated and winning 23 Copa Del Rey’s and La Liga on 8 occasions.
They have leaned into their identity and have used players, managers and their staff to do so.
The article describes the books they have self published and given away to fans for free. It is not a money making exercise but a cultural and fan connection one.
In the glitzy world of social media, live streaming and multi million euro signings they have taken an old school approach in engaging fans and building deep, meaningful connections.
Their latest book is written by a player, which is a first for the club. It is not your typical autobiography but a deeper look at the person outside of the football pitch.
They also have a book club running where fans and players alike can nominate books to read and players, coaches, executives have read the books and shared their opinion on the book and its meaning with the fans. This is a fascinating and human approach to connecting with fans and enjoying in shared experience outside of the football pitch.
They also run an annual film festival that branches outside of just the Basque Country. The Kenny Dagliesh documentary won the festival last season and players from around the world are invited to participate in the festival itself.
This is deeply fascinating to me as I think a lot of lessons can be learned for other sports teams, leagues and organisations.
Would fans want to know what book is being read by some of the team members of the team they adore? Would fans want to know what TV shows the team is obsessing about and is the talk of the locker room? Would fans want to know what music is played in the locker room or inside the headphones as players leave the team bus and enter the stadium?
I think the answer is hell yeah!
Earlier this year I highlighted the work that the Philadelphia Eagles have done to become a media creation company in publishing multiple podcasts and TV shows to build that bond with the fans, beyond game day.
Fans are bored of the generic interviews that players give. They are usually so robotic that it inspires no one.
Fans want to have a feeling of connection to their idols. They want to see them as humans and know their interests, opinions, passions and feelings.
Clubs should be leveraging their greatest asset in all of this, the players themselves!
The growth of the mega star sees greater interest in individuals than an entire team. Take a look at the biggest stars in the game, they have more followers, more engagement and a bigger audience than the teams they represent.
The old saying of no one is bigger than the team is being flipped on its head. Whilst it might be true on the pitch, off it, fans want to engage, follow and understand the individual humans that wear the shirt they adore.
Clubs should realise this and look to see how they can leverage their greatest asset as right now they are using them as commodities to pose for pictures in the latest kit with the latest sponsor that fans can see right through and are frankly bored with.
Clubs should be self publishing media companies that cater to their fans needs and interests and use their stars to be the focal point. All the pieces of the puzzle are there, it will just take a commitment from the club and players to deliver the content that fans will eat up.
Have a great sporting weekend,