Besides a business sparking infatuation, can an infatuation give birth to a substantial business?
You bet! Twenty years ago European football was largely a seasonal sport. There were fall and spring seasons with well-defined breaks in the summer and winter months. Today, it is played virtually year round, and the sport enjoys immense popularity worldwide. A key driver of this development was the English club Manchester United, which rightfully calls itself “the world’s most popular football team.” What ManU realized was that they were sitting on a gold mine. They had a captive audience that was fanatical about their football club. They needed to turn the fan base of a seasonal pastime into a year-round entertainment and lifestyle platform. And that is exactly what they did. In its annual list of the world’s most valuable sports teams, Forbes ranked ManU not only as the richest football club in the world but the most valuable team in any sport—pegged at a cool $1.8 billion market value, with yearly revenues of $500 million. In 2010 the club earned the top spot for the second year running, followed by the likes of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, both valued at $1.6 billion. According to David Gill, ManU’s chief executive, the club boasts more than 300 million fans worldwide, of which more than 130 million are active members: 80 million in Asia and 10 million in North America, indicating that they have created a truly worldwide appeal. And the club’s television channel is shown in over 190 million homes.
These are simply amazing figures! How many companies can you think of with this sort of fan base? It is an immense global community whose members’ self-perception and world outlook revolves in large part around their devotion to ManU.
Interested to learn more? Check out my book, Slingshot: Re-Imagine Your Business, Re-Imagine Your Life and companion Slingshot website.