As witnessed at this past World Cup, the sport of soccer (aka futbol) is a powerful, passionate love affair between fans, clubs and athletes that can unite and destroy communities. Fans of Real Madrid, ranked the “best club of the 20th century”, will soon rejoice as Real has signed a four-year collaboration with Microsoft to digitally transform the stadium. The groundbreaking $30M partnership will focus on digital content and virtual experiences through a cohesive digital platform.
Bringing the stadium up to digital speed will provide a stronger fan interaction during live matches. Orlando Ayala, Chairman and VP of emerging markets at Microsoft said in a blog post that, “The digital platform we’re designing with Real Madrid is maniacally focused on putting fans at the center, and opening access and control of rich content and experiences that bring them closer to their passion for the game and the team.”
Powered by the cloud, fans will receive personalized and customized content before, during and after each match. Ayala added, “The vision is to really enable a dynamic platform that will provide incredible capability in reaching insights and uncovering new ideas, giving fans the opportunity to be the drivers of this discovery and the authors of their own stories.” Fans can use data to build graphic comparisons of key stats, such as player shot comparisons and historical match information. Futbol enthusiasts will truly be looking at the game through a digital lens. And, to drive the digital experience the 120M global fan community of Real Madrid will use the digital platform with social to share experiences with friends and family. To give a little perspective, the official Real Madrid twitter handle has 4.56 million followers vs the official twitter of the NY Knicks only has 1.06 million followers.
This partnership allows Microsoft to flex its muscles in the sports space as well as get a leg up on competitor Intel who is digitizing FC Barcelona. In addition to hitting the fan base, Microsoft will also introduce solutions to increase efficiency and performance of the staff. Real players and staff will use Microsoft’s suite of devices, notably the Surface tablet, which will also be used by coaches.
The digital transformation of sports and stadiums is a true game changer and can serve to sway fair-weather fans and increase seasonal revenues. Microsoft already has partnerships with Italian football club AC Milan, the Lotus Formula 1 team, and the US National Football League. Many other teams are following suit and are investing in digital.