In a competitive sport media landscape, Australian football needs to adopt initiatives to remain relevant and gain advantages on its competitors.
La Liga are an organisation that has introduced several initiatives this year – the latest of which is a FanCam.
Last weekend the FanCam was launched, which captures the goal celebrations of La Liga players. Without fans in attendance players have been encouraged to celebrate towards the camera to connect with their fans.
The cameras will also be installed in all La Liga Smartbank (second division) stadiums.
“FanCam is another step towards improving and personalising our audiovisual product,” the director of La Liga’s audiovisual department, Melcior Soler said.
“With it we are going to give fans a much more personal and genuine view of the players, seeing up close how they celebrate their team’s goals.
“We trust in the players to realise the importance of celebrating their goals in front of the FanCam, because this puts them in direct contact with their fans.
“That’s why we are so convinced that their use of FanCam will increase, to the point that it is used all the time.”
Without further outbreaks fans are likely to attend A-League matches next season, however a FanCam could be still be introduced to add to the broadcast experience.
The goal celebrations would also be likely to be popular across social media and could be easily shared across platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
Clubs could also fully embrace other platforms such as YouTube.
While there are currently no Australian football streaming series and it is not viable for A-League clubs to make full length documentaries – shorter content focusing on the pre-season or a series of matches during the season could be released on YouTube, to give fans a closer look into their favourite teams.
Head of Media and Communications at La Liga second division club RCD Mallorca, Albert Salas spoke about the importance of quality communication to the club’s fans.
“In La Liga, especially in the second and third divisions, clubs don’t normally have the resources to create content such as behind-the-scenes documentaries,” he said.
“We’re trying every week, every month to create content that communicates to our fans better than anyone else. Quality is key in the communications of the club.”
RCD Mallorca might be an unknown club to many Australian football fans, yet their YouTube channel was incredibly successful during the last season.
They did this by making the most of their opportunities, the club focused their content around player Takefusa Kubo, which saw a rise in Japanese fans of RCD Mallorca.
“We were the third club in La Liga with close to 2.4 million views, only behind Real Madrid on 4 million and FC Barcelona on 10 million in June 2020, thanks to a strategic plan based around him,” Salas said.
Augmented Reality is another area where several football leagues and broadcasters are introducing new initiatives to improve supporters experience from home.
BT Sport recently launched AR features for its broadcast of Premier League matches which allow for real time statistics to appear on pitch during the live match broadcast.
A 360 degree view option was also introduced alongside a ‘Stadium Experience’ giving supporters the opportunity to take virtual tours of stadiums.
BT Sport Chief Operating Officer Jamie Hindhaugh told SportsPro that the new products were not gimmicks.
“I hope you agree that all of them give you something that replaces the fact you can’t physically be there. I think that they are all credible products and they are all future-looking,” he said.
“I think that you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we are able to do here, collectively – both for our audiences and also our own production.
“Combined with our brilliant remote 4K HDR [programming] and, alongside the [mobile] features that we now have in place, I think it’s a phenomenal offering. We don’t over-index on these things either. What this is about is augmenting the fan experience.”
Football Federation Australia doesn’t necessarily have to be innovative, there are major leagues and organisations worldwide in football that are launching new concepts and ideas. However, the A-League and FFA should be watching what these organisations are doing and introduce initiatives that have the potential to be successful in Australia.