Manchester United (MUFC) have launched a YouTube channel, with both the club and the Google-owned platform spotting an opportunity to capitalise on the fact that despite having no official presence on the site until now, the Red Devils are the most viewed Premier League side.
The move marks the end of a 13-year wait for fans, with Manchester United being the last Premier League club to partner with YouTube.
This season, unofficial MUFC content has generated some 843m YouTube views, more than any of its English rivals and a 60% increase on the previous year, showing hunger for content related to the club.
With the channel, Manchester FC are promising to give an inside look at their operations, granting access to their personalities and academy.
The collaboration means YouTube now boasts official content from more than 300 football clubs across in excess of 40 leagues.
La Liga is the most popular league, with 1.9m subscribers, followed by Bundesliga (1.1m), Ligue 1 (851k) and Serie A (492k).
Tomos Grace, head of sport at YouTube EMEA told The Drum that there is a huge appetite for sporting content on the platform and that it is his job to get high quality offerings on the table. The acquisition of Manchester United on the platform, he assured, qualifies.
Grace does not think United’s presence will hurt these non-official content makers who have been helping to keep the club firmly in the YouTube discourse for over a decade in light of any official channel.
He explained: “It can only enhance viewership to the broad Manchester United video ecosystem on YouTube. These things are never zero-sum. We expect the launch of the official club channel will enhance interest in Manchester United on YouTube and drive greater viewership to related channels.”
On what content works best on the platform, Grace revealed that a variety of formats work, but most are elevated by the exclusive access granted by club-owned channels.
He noted: “Player interactions (games, tours, pranks) give an insight into the personalities of the stars; match highlights or compilations of great player spotlights allow fans to enjoy past games and memorable moments; match preparation and post-game analyses with the manager and senior staff give fans a unique look at the inner workings of the team.”
Live friendly games, youth games and women's games, and archive content also serve well on the platform.
At the moment, La Liga giants Barcelona FC and Read Madrid are the most subscribed football teams on YouTube, sitting at 3.7m and 2.7m subscribers respectively. The La Liga is clearly ahead in terms of engagement with Manchester City coming in at third with 1m, Bundesliga side Bayern Munich taking 821k and Liverpool FC attracting 819k.
Grace branded YouTube as “the broadest video sporting ecosystem on the planet” adding that this additional stream of content is of “huge interest to fans”.
Manchester United will have to figure out how to cut through the noise of the wider football YouTube ecosystem, which includes videos centered around freestylers, gamers, official channels, broadcasters, documentaries, analyses and even cartoons.