‘Manchester United app driving phenomenal fan engagement’, says MD

‘Manchester United app driving phenomenal fan engagement’, says MD
The official app of English giants Manchester United has become the most downloaded throughout world soccer and is operating well above other industry benchmarks, according to the club’s managing director Richard Arnold.

Speaking on the Premier League giant’s second-quarter investors’ call, Arnold said the platform has received “sustained and phenomenal” user engagement since its launch six months ago, and is exceeding their “uppermost expectations”.

Though the club has yet to disclose the app’s user metrics, Arnold said that it has shown month-on-month growth across all features, including downloads and user retention.

“We need a period of time to really understand the detail trends and what will continue,” Arnold said during the call. “When the app was brand new, the record-breaking engagement statistics we were seeing – in terms of dwell time, video time, and frequency of visits – would be the most fervent.

“Even in our uppermost expectations, the continuation of that trend as we’ve added more and more fans has surprised us and consequently underlined the need for us to analyse deeply and to also be patient in determining at what point we are settling on what the long-term trend will be.

“A lot of time and attention went into analysis and testing of what works with apps. We did that all around the world with different kinds of apps in different kinds of environments.

“The product that we eventually launched certainly wasn’t the first in the world but we aim to make it the best. That has been borne out and we believe that is very important in the sustainability we are seeing with the engagement of fans.”

The digital boost came as the club announced record revenues of UK£208.6 million (US$267.1 million) during their second financial quarter, aided primarily by growth in the sale of media rights and matchday tickets.

Year-on-year, broadcast revenue for the quarter rose by 37.9 per cent to UK£103.7 million (US$132.8 million) at the end of 2018, while matchday revenue for the quarter increased by 5.7 per cent to UK£39.0 million (US$49.95 million).

The growth was primarily due to new UEFA Champions League broadcasting rights, according to the club’s latest records, and playing one additional UEFA Champions League game compared to a year earlier.

The club is also expecting further growth throughout the rest of the year, projecting as much as UK£630 million (US$806.9 million) in revenue, aided by potential upcoming new partnerships. That projection represents a 6.7 per cent increase on the annual figure released by the club in September 2018.

Commercially so far this year, the club have announced the launch of Manchester United Entertainment and Experience Centres in China and a multi-year partnership with electrical stylist Remington.

In addition, Arnold says the club is also eager to see how this year’s inaugural ePremier League esports competition will impact engagement with the club's fanbase, which has made up 20 per cent of the all entrants across the 20 Premier League clubs. 

“We have a fantastic family of fans around the world and there is a huge opportunity to engage with those fans in new and exciting ways,” Arnold continued.

“Over a number of years, one of the points we have made is that we have only taken baby steps in what’s possible at Manchester United in terms of the opportunity that working with our fans around the world represents.

“That phenomenal engagement and digital reach also means that the value of our traditional inventory remains very sought after because it is such a powerful connecting tool with our fans and represents an increasingly valuable commodity in an increasingly fragmented media landscape.”

In terms of expenditure, United were forced to pay out UK£19.7 million (US$25.2 million) in compensation to Jose Mourinho and former members of the club’s coaching staff as a result of the Portuguese manager’s exit in December.

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