Manchester City Datatainment – player data goes public

Earlier this year Manchester City told Digital-Football.com that they aimed to unleash and innovate the football industry with what they called “Datatainment”. This week the Premier League Champions announced that they would be making player data from every match last season available on their website. Manchester City have been the champions of Football Social Media for a long time now and we’ve made no attempt to hide it, but this is another sign of their growing dominance in the social media space and justification that they are perhaps the world’s most engaging football club.

Datatainment – a term coined by Manchester City’s Digital Innovation Consultant Richard Ayers – is the concept of providing fans with sporting data and presenting it to them in a format that entertains and visually engages. In the past 12 months data and entertainment have been rife in the digital world. Euro 2012 inspired a wide range of data driven pieces of content and web apps. On Twitter, sports data analysts Opta, have used social media as a way to promote their product by providing player, club and match data.

Richard Ayers - Manchester City FC

For the football fan, data – specifically statistics – are the bread and butter of football-obsessed lifestyles. Statistics such as average pass completion over a season or shots off-target are quickly becoming more common in mainstream media and pub arguments. So, by feeding this appetite with infographics, data visualisation web apps and raw access to databases – football can use data not just to inform, but to entertain. It’s the reason why we listen to football commentators, wait for the half time stats and go to data-driven blogs like the ever popular ZonalMarking.net.

Manchester City’s Head of Performance Analysis, Gavin Fleigh,  even recognises the importance of social media communities and tells the Guardian that the growing demand for data online had influenced their decision to go public:

“The whole reason for putting this data out there is to open the doors. The data has value, previously it has been kept in-house and behind guarded doors, but there is a recognition now that clubs need to help this space develop. There are a lot of people out there blogging and doing their own research and they can do a lot more with this data. I hope it will have a big impact on those who want to do research. It might just be the armchair enthusiast. If the worst it does is show a few people that there are different ways of looking at a player’s performance, then great. If it helps universities and gets the blogging world talking and coming up with fantastic ways of modelling performance, that is what we want. We want to engage with them.”

Expect to hear a lot more about Datatainment in the coming months and we wouldn’t be surprised to see clubs to jump on the bandwagon and follow Manchester City by releasing their statistics to fans – perhaps even at an additional price…

 

 

 

Sean Walsh

Founder of Digital-Football.com and leading Football Social Media expert.

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