It was announced last week that FC Barcelona would not only take the music streamer on-board as a shirt sponsor, it would also become title sponsor of the iconic, cathedral-like stadium the Nou Camp which for the next four seasons will become the Spotify Camp Nou.
The fact that this story has jumped from the sport pages into mainstream chatter shows the role Spotify now plays in our culture and further moves European football into the Sportstertainment arena in which US sports already exist.
But why is the deal, such a big deal? When my two of my passions – digital-audio entertainment and football – collide, I have to have a look at it.
Barcelona really, really need cash.
Barcelona are in massive debt. €1.35 billion in debt with a similar amount needed to upgrade the Camp Nou to a stadium worthy of a modern superclub. The Spotify deal is speculated to be worth €280 million so while miles off keeping the banks happy it gives the club some breathing room. If you didn’t know, at the start of the season Barca had to let Lionel Messi leave the club despite his offers to play for a minimum wage. That’s right, at one point they had such money trouble that they couldn’t afford a free Messi.
They really are in massive debt.
A Spotify cathedral in a European cultural heartland.
Did you also notice that the Camp Nou, sorry The Spotify Camp Nou, with its 100 000 capacity and infrastructure in one of Europe’s cities of culture, would kind of be a good place to have massive concerts or festivals?
Don’t be surprised if the stadium hosts the likes of Ed Sheeran, Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion as often as it hosts Real and Atletico Madrid.
Also worth noting that club captain and probable future club president Gerard Pique, is married to Hips don’t lie, Wakka-Wakkaing, Shakira. I expect to see her on top of a lot of Spotify charts.
Oh and Memphis Depay is a rapper.
Sportstertainment is here to stay
WWE started it, NFL took on the mantle, UFC is the latest and even F1 is in on it. The line between sports and entertainment is getting blurrier by the day. Every club is in the race for eyeballs on their Tik Tok content. Every team has an NFT partner. You’re not a serious European club if you don’t have an eSports team, and not just one that plays FIFA.
So what do you do when the eyeballs are full? You go for the ears. Expect to be flooded with Barca playlists compiled by the players. Playlists from the changing room, the team bus, the massage room.
Barca will suddenly become a sizeable podcast business and the reliance on the team for revenue diminish.
And it’s not a bad thing. If trying to compete in football got you in billions in debt, why not pivot to becoming a content business who kind of has a football team.
The big tech firms will win the next bidding wars for ‘’TV’’ rights across all major European leagues as well as the Champions League – the streaming wars have just moved to a new playing surface.
But for the sake of Barca President Joan Laporta, let’s just hope Spotify pay him for football in a more generous way than they pay artists for streams.
Writes: Paulo Dias – Head of Audio Innovation Ultimate Media | An SA Podcast guy | Host That 80s Show SA | Co-Host MKT Sports Show | *Opinions my own*