Major League Soccer is in a unique position in the global soccer community in that it is still maturing and evolving within a crowded North American sporting backdrop. While it doesn’t have the elongated history of MLB or the overwhelming popularity of the NFL, the league does have, however, a commissioner and group of owners looking to drive the league forward both and off the field. One place they’re certain they can differentiate themselves – and even begin to set the world standard – is digital innovation. So how does the league approach the digital space?
MLS Digital keeps four major buckets in mind when creating content:
- Fan connection
- On-field talent
- Stadium experience
- Media quality
Translating the unique in-stadium experience of an MLS match to the fan at home on the couch is at the core of both why they do what they do, and MLS Digital has forged strategic partnerships to ensure they are utilizing the right cutting-edge technology in order to do so. MLS has partnered with companies like Twitter, R/GA, and SendtoNews for their digital content distribution.
— Front Office Sports (@frntofficesport) February 25, 2019
Through their Twitter partnership, MLS has created a hashtag emoji for every single team and conducted last year’s All-Star voting through their platform. SendtoNews distributes highlights, interviews and other content to over 1,600 local publishing partners, helping to serve more fans in more places, and R/GA is the company actively seeking out these strategic partnerships for MLS.
R/GA Global Chief Operating Official Stephen Plumlee is pushing to better connect fans to teams to develop better content ties, since fans have so many options at their fingertips. By personalizing the content to be authentic to what each individual fan wants, Plumlee believes MLS can win that fan over – not B/R Football, ESPN FC, etc.
For personalization, MLS is betting on artificial intelligence in the future to generate user-specific highlight packages of content. Fans are busy and maybe they can’t catch the game – but MLS will settle for you watching their four-minute highlight video served to you automatically in-app.
MLS seems to be primed to differentiate itself amongst all of the other soccer leagues through digital excellence. But hey, if they want to add goalie wars back to the All-Star Game to further differentiate on the field as well, there’s no complaints here.