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‘The Sports Industry Needs A Revolution’: Inside Juventus Creator Lab

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Last May, Serie A giants Juventus launched the Juventus Creator Lab, a laboratory in which digital creators work closely with the club’s communications department to take Juventus’s media reach, engagement and storytelling to the next level.

“The sports industry needs a revolution in approach given recent trends,” Mike Armstrong, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Juventus, said during our most recent conversation. “The Juventus Creator Lab is one-of-a-kind in the industry worldwide.”

It was 2022 when Juventus first came up with the idea of building a space dedicated to digital creators, which today has the shape of a squared building located right next to the first team’s training center in Turin, Italy and is painted both inside and outside with the traditional black and white colors.

But if the what was clear from the beginning, the how remained a work-in-progress for several months.

“We tried to build the plane as we flew it,” Armstrong confessed.

It all started with finding out what drives the young generation of soccer fans to follow one club over another, with Juventus’s extensive research leading to a clear-cut answer: content. Meanwhile, evidence showed that soccer audiences around the world had begun devoting increasingly more attention to what happens outside of the 90 minutes of play.

“Traditional broadcast studios cover the game, but we took inspiration from creators to tell more and better stories about players,” Armstrong said. “We wanted to underline the respect and success that creators were having around the world.”

In the short-term, the goal behind the Juventus Creator Lab is to “drive traffic and provide more for Juventus’s global fanbase” by telling the stories of the Bianconeri on all levels, touching not just on the men’s team but also on the women’s side, the reserve squad called “Next Gen,” the club’s former players and the esports teams.

The new lab enables Juventus to strike partnerships with renowned social media pages, creators and influencers to generate content that seeks to boost brand awareness and resonate with the 175 million followers that the club boasts across all of its digital platforms.

“The goal is to expand the reach through partnerships that we see as strategic,” Armstrong said. “All of our partners have been chosen with the rationale of people that can innovate with Juventus.”

In the mid-to-long term, there is a strong commercial objective behind the Juventus Creator Lab, which is that of turning it into a revenue-generating entity.

Because Italian soccer is experiencing a shift from broadcast to digital, which is partially due to the Lega Serie A’s difficulty in reaching a financially-satisfying deal with domestic television broadcasters, Juventus see in the digital space the perfect opportunity to strike independent, remunerative sponsorship deals.

“The focus on digital growth complements the changing viewership patterns we see worldwide,” Armstrong said.

And while Juventus are not new to publishing original content - last year, they released the documentary on striker Federico Chiesa’s return to play following a serious knee injury - the Juventus Creator Lab will increase the production of branded content, thus allowing the club to monetize from the sale of its intellectual property rights.

“We can now sell way more than we used to be able to,” Armstrong concluded.

Even though Italian soccer’s business model is still heavily reliant on sports results, Armstrong is optimistic about Juventus’s ability to leverage the digital space and generate a revenue stream that can finally be detached from what happens on the pitch.

“Over the last couple of years, we were able to show growth in a period of time when we saw a decline in the players and performances,” Armstrong said.

As content continues its rise as a predominant feature in modern soccer, Juventus are betting heavily on their storytelling and media reach to meet their fans’ requests while looking to unleash all of the digital world’s untapped financial potential.

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