Not content with being second best, Barcelona are looking to a new revenue stream in the hope that the can knock rivals Real Madrid off the top spot on the world's football club rich list. Facebook's newest feature for businesses and brands allows them to charge fans for access to exclusive media content, natively, and the Catalan club are the first in the world of football to make use of it.
This is part of a wider move to become the first football club to reach €1 billion in revenue, and highlights the ever-increasing global presence of football. Using a platform on which they already have an audience of more than 100 million people, Barca are dangling a pretty juicy carrot here - for little more than £2 a month, fans receive unrivalled access to the club they follow, wherever in the world that may be from.
More importantly, however, is that they're are doing this on a platform that is already in use. Unlike launching club apps or partnering with lesser known platforms, the club have been coy to use the world's largest social media network to host this new product. Not only do they already have their audience, it also gives them scope to attract even more people - any of the two billion users actively on Facebook.
The contrast here is the danger of increased commercialisation. We're in an age in which fans are growing increasingly frustrated with the disconnect between clubs and fans - it isn't the people's game it once was. Although less of a problem on the continent, where season tickets can still be acquired for just a few hundred quid, it'll be interesting to see if any Premier League clubs follow suit and begin charging fans for extra content. It works on an international basis, but for the match-going fan it's likely to ruffle a few feathers.
The digital fan club will provide subscribers with access to special rewards, exclusive content and interactive experiences, exclusive Facebook groups and virtual badges highlighting their status as a Barcelona supporter. Subscribers will be able to view the exclusive content in several ways, including on their news feed and in the supporter-only Facebook group. Barcelona’s official Facebook page will also have a ‘For Supporters’ tab, which will only be visible to subscribers and will link to all of the exclusive content in one destination.