It is not since ‘Living with the Lions’ – the documentary following the British and Irish Lions rugby team [the 1997 tour in South Africa is still the best one!] - that we have been provided such rich, unadulterated sporting team content as ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City’.
To date, the series has received a rumoured 10 million views or downloads in the first two weeks since its release and it is thought Amazon bosses are already discussing another link-up with the club covering a new season under Pep Guardiola.
It has been a masterstroke for which Manchester City Football Club must be commended. The truly exclusive content from the dressing room, training ground and manager’s office, along with interviews with players and staff will have felt like a risk but one that will have been calculated for the potential commercial benefits on the other side.
Planning for the unknown
There are clearly a number of key ingredients that has made this series with Man City so engrossing – a title-winning season, a crazily passionate genius of a manager, engaging players (Benjamin Mendy and Vincent Kompany in particular), a football club of great wealth and expectation, an aggressive broadcast platform with significant marketing spend – but the club still had to make this brave decision to do this from a long way out.
Documentaries are extremely challenging to shoot: they require significant planning, access and commitment to make them come off. The outcome of this series is no accident but there was no telling how it would materialise at the start of the process and it needed the complete buy-in from the club – ownership, management and players. Whilst there will have been a degree of censorship and ‘right to veto’ you simply could not imagine this happening within the walls of City’s arch rivals on the other side of town.
Doing it first
Whilst the ‘All or Nothing’ blueprint is not a new phenomenon – there have already been series with Arizona Cardinals NFL team and New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team – it is unique to top-flight football in the UK and Manchester City have got there first. As with their commitment to innovate with their digital and social presence over recent years, so they have proven themselves with this content.
Commercial benefits to the business
Whilst it was a brave call for Manchester City, the assurances they would have had from Amazon as regards to the quality of production, reportedly costing £10 million, and the fact that there was a similar blueprint for this with ‘All or Nothing’ series produced in other sports, they were quick to realise the far-reaching benefits for the club.
- It will increase their fan base by appealing to a broader audience, outside of the devoted City fan, via a digital broadcast platform that actively promotes it.
- It will develop the club’s brand, portraying values of professionalism, dedication, performance and leadership – all attributes that fashion greater affinity to the club and create potential commercial tie-ups.
- It will increase the profile of the footballers showcasing their personalities and professionalism which will undoubtedly have an affect on their value in the transfer market – arguably better insight than many football scouts will be able to glean.
The shift in brand perception
Time will tell as to whether Manchester City will win the Premier League for the second time in two years but they have certainly won a new-found respect and appreciation from sports fans across the world which will stand them in good stead for the future…
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