Major League Soccer (MLS) has announced a strategic partnership with R/GA Ventures, the investment and innovation arm of the global agency, focused on identifying technology startups that can help grow the top-tier US league’s fanbase.
The two parties will work together to find key opportunities and technologies related to strategic areas of focus for MLS, including fan engagement, on-field data, content creation and player development.
MLS says the aim of the collaboration is to develop solutions that can satisfy the constantly changing and evolving consumption habits of its millennial audience, with 36 per cent of the league’s fans said to be between the age of 18 and 34.
MLS already has a string of innovative initiatives in place, including eMLS, a new competitive gaming league announced earlier this year, as well as streaming deals with the likes of ESPN+, Twitter, YouTubeTV, and DAZN.
“We are always looking at new ways to serve our young fanbase” said Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures. “We admire R/GA and their unique approach to innovation and are excited to partner with them to provide us access to a stream of new startups and ideas that will help MLS better serve our tech-savvy fans.”
“Our studios are designed to enable our partners to identify and capitalise on disruptive technologies and emerging behaviours,” added Stephen Plumlee, global chief operating officer of R/GA and managing partner of R/GA Ventures. “We offer our partners targeted outcomes ranging from market intelligence and knowledge capital to scalable new revenue streams.”
MLS’s partnership with R/GA Ventures follows a similar move by the National Basketball Association (NBA), which last month teamed up with Intel Capital on a new venture to invest in technology startups that have the potential to enhance the league’s games on the court, as well as improve the overall fan experience and the sports industry worldwide.