How KEEPUP will revolutionise football in Australia

Late last week, the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) launched their new $30 million digital platform KEEPUP.

The main aim of the new digital hub is to convert a larger proportion of the 8 million football fans in this country into supporters of Australia’s premier domestic competitions.

“The platform was delivered to broaden and enhance the fan experience, connecting A-Leagues fans and international competition fans in one place,” a statement from the APL read.

“In its current form, the platform will focus on creating and curating content to bring fans close to the game however they choose, with significant expansion planned into the future.

“KEEPUP will feature compelling content from the best of the A-Leagues, European and world football, the Socceroos and Matildas, NPL, and FFA Cup.

“A-League clubs’ content hubs will also be integrated onto the platform to ensure fans are offered the most comprehensive football resource available in Australia.”

KEEPUP, across their website and app, have already begun producing a wide array of content from breaking news stories, expert columns from football journalists, articles on football culture, video productions and in-depth analysis features, not just on the A-League, but world football.

The KEEPUP team is led by Optus’ former director of sport Richard Bayliss, who is in charge of the editorial, social media and production practices across the platform.

KEEPUP will have a strong impetus on keeping editorial independence and not cheerlead for the APL and its clubs at every opportunity.

“Day one of the launch we had two A-League CEOs complaining about criticism on our platform, this is all about being authentic and you can’t have a propaganda site,” APL Managing Director, Danny Townsend, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Football fans are extremely discerning and the minute they see something that is not authentic…they’ll call that out.”

Alongside the diverse content on the platform, KEEPUP will look to innovate in ways which will engage new audiences and provide those they already have connected with, with unique experiences.

“This is just the beginning,” Chief Commercial Officer at the APL, Ant Hearne, said.

“We have a bold plan to evolve KEEPUP into an unparalleled global digital hub, expanding functionality beyond a content base to include gamification, e-Commerce, ticketing, second screen live stadium experiences and loyalty programs.”

Other codes in Australia such as Cricket, AFL and NRL have all invested heavily in their own digital content over time, however the $30 million digital investment from the APL is playing to the strategic advantages that football has over other sports.

“I look at what the other sports are doing and they’re very much wed, fortunately, to TV deals that mean they don’t need to do what we’re doing,” Townsend told the SMH.

“We’re in a situation where we’ve got an enormous base, we’ve got the youngest fan base of any sport in the country who are all digital natives. We’re going to get into the direct-to-consumer business and that will preserve the long-term revenues and build the football economy.”

If you register an account on KEEPUP (which is free to do so), you will receive a four-week trial to Paramount+ – the service which is showcasing the majority of Australian football games for the next five years.

This offer is a slice of things to come between the APL and their new broadcast partner ViacomCBS, with future plans for content from the digital platform to be integrated further into the Channel 10 Network and Paramount+.

“What Channel 10 and ViacomCBS bought into was our strategy,” Townsend told the SMH.

“The ViacomCBS deal was a really critical one for us on many levels financially, but equally the reach it delivers us. But importantly, the owners have continued to invest and put their money where their mouth is.

“The sports media and commercial landscape is changing and the days of sports just serving up content on television, taking a big cheque and playing sport are over. It’s changing in a way that requires sports to take the initiative and connect with their fans.

“We’ve got to become an entertainment business because at the end of the day, if we’re going to grow revenues of the sport, we need to engage our fans more effectively.”

The APL’s KEEPUP platform has only been around for just over a week, but its long-term agenda has the potential to change the perception of the game in this country.

Avatar
Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

City Football Group add İstanbul Başakşehir to club portfolio

City Football Group (CFG) announced a “football collaboration agreement” with Turkish Süper Lig side İstanbul Başakşehir to expand on their current portfolio of worldwide football clubs.

CFG is the owner of Premier League giants Manchester City and the group also own majority shareholder status in a further seven clubs around the world including A-League side Melbourne City.

Under this agreement, CFG will provide Başakşehir with guidance on transfers, academy development and data-driven insights. The group will also offer support with player screening and football strategy.

This strategy used by CFG has been rather successful for all the clubs under the consortium and Melbourne City in particular have used this connection to make some big transfers in and outgoings. David Villa was the first significant loan move from CFG club New York City FC which started a practice of players and coaches rotating between the group’s clubs.

It has seen players like Daniel Arzani and Aaron Mooy move to Manchester City temporarily to be loaned out to other European clubs. Recently, Patrick Kisnorbo earned a move to fellow CFG club ESTAC Troyes to become the first ever Australian manager in a top five European league.

Göksel Gümüşdağ, Majority Owner and Club President of Başakşehir, explained that this move is immense for the club.

“İstanbul Başakşehir FK has achieved many firsts in Turkish football despite its young age and today, with this collaboration with the leading football group in the world, it marks another milestone for İstanbul Başakşehir and Turkish football,” he said in a club statement.

“From the very beginning, we have reiterated at every opportunity that our vision and goals are different and today underlines this expression again. We are very happy, proud and excited. I would like to thank all the people in City Football Group for their approach and support in the process. I hope it will be beneficial for Başakşehir FK and Turkish football.”

City Football Group released their own statement regarding the new addition to their family and the future plans for the club.

“This collaboration will help CFG grow knowledge and develop relationships in Turkey, an ambitious football nation and developer of talent. This will also provide CFG with an opportunity to collaborate across emerging football areas with a club that has a shared vision.” a CFG statement read.

City Football Group, INEOS and Red Bull in particular have figured out a way to potentially ‘game the system’ to their advantage before FIFA or UEFA had ever thought of cracking down on this potentially threatening move for football.

İstanbul Başakşehir is just another club adding to the growing list of clubs involved in a multi-club structure which is said to be over 180 clubs across the world in total. Modern football is transforming like never before.

DFL and EA Sports continue to delight Bundesliga fans

The German Football League (DFL) renewed its partnership with sports game manufacturer EA Sports, in a deal labelled by officials to be of ‘high strategic importance’.

It guarantees that clubs from Germany’s top two tiers will feature in EA Sports’ football video-game, EA Sports FC, until 2027.

In addition, EA Sports will continue to sponsor the ‘Player of the Month’ and ‘Player of the Season’ awards for the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2.

A relationship that stems back to 1998, the DFL and EA Sports share an important history built on innovation within the gaming world.

In 2012, the DFL pioneered the world’s first eFootball competition, Virtual Bundesliga (VBL), helped greatly by its relationship with EA Sports. The VBL remains a strong part of the DFL’s vision, resulting in the professionalisation of the competition.

An arm of video-game publishing organisation Electronic Arts, EA Sports is in the midst of a new era in football gaming, after failing to agree a deal with its long-time naming rights partner, FIFA.

However, the game’s universal popularity since its inception in 1993 gives it one of the highest return customer rates in video gaming history.

EA Sports’ first iteration of the game since removing the FIFA branding – EA Sports FC 24 – is the highest-selling video game in the UK and Europe, and ranks 10th in the United States (from Statista).

This global demand is exactly what the DFL is eager to capitalise on, according to Bundesliga International Chief Marketing Officer Peter Naubert.

“The contract renewal confirms the positive development of our global licensing and sponsorship partnerships and underscores the global appeal of the Bundesliga brand as well as the significant growth that the DFL generates for clubs,” Naubert stated via press release.

The gaming industry remains a lucrative space for football organisations to increase its marketability and generate greater revenue. Late last year, the Argentina Football Association partnered with a gaming software company to increase its marketing presence in Europe.

DFL joint-CEO Marc Lenz explained that the extension of its deal with EA Sports is crucial to its marketing strategy.

“Our core aim is to reach young fans and find new ways to spark their interest in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2,” Lenz told the DFL website.

EA SPORTS FC is a successful part of this strategy, because the licensing partnership and the Virtual Bundesliga increase the visibility of our leagues and clubs.”

Lenz’s partner Steffen Merkel spoke about the relationship between the DFL and EA Sports.

EA SPORTS FC deepens the connection between millions of fans and their favourite players and clubs from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, which are an important part of the video game series,” Merkel added via media release.

“The partnership has existed since 1998 and underscores the shared conviction behind the cooperation, which is characterised by constant and successful evolution.”

Meanwhile, the inclusion of Germany’s top two professional leagues in EA Sports FC will assist EA Sports’ future plans for football gaming.

“Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 are key to building an innovative and evolving football platform for fans, and we’re thrilled that the DFL shares our vision for the future of football,” EA Sports President, Cam Weber, added via the DFL website.

By continuing its relationship with EA Sports, the DFL demonstrates its commitment to a sustainable and profitable future for its competitions.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks

Send this to a friend