Fan engagement is taken online, as a UK football team creates their own virtual players to compete online.
eSport organisations have seen the value in online interaction to boost real-life engagement. From an AI chatbot to a social platform, technology ushers fans into greater communication with the brand as a whole. Now a British football team is seeking to engage with the Chinese market in a similar fashion.
Manchester City recognised China’s huge potential for market growth last year, with 60 percent of the population expressing an interest in football. In order to target this far-off demographic, they launched an online team for the video game, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). This was a first for any other Premier League team. This virtual team could then compete in the Online Star League (FSL). Highly sought-after players, such as 2017’s Most Valuable Player Zhang Jun, and Aruya and Liu Chao, made the team. All the players had strong FSL reputations, making them popular choices in this online tournament. The team also included two players chosen via a fan competition.
25 percent of eSports players across the globe are from China, making it a strong choice for Manchester City’s focus. The club’s attention has been very much focused on spreading their fanbase across the globe. The youth in China therefore represent a huge market opportunity that has as yet gone untouched.