The new coronavirus pandemic has had serious consequences for Bahia's coffers - and for virtually every club in the world. With the competitions paralyzed, the’ tricolor’ saw its revenues drop dramatically. Between March and April alone, the difference in money that did not enter the club was almost R$ 10 million (US$1.95m). Defaults among the partners increased and in the worst-case scenario, the management projects a loss of R$ 60 million (US$11.9m).
But in the midst of the crisis, Bahia has been betting on creativity to overcome the moment and remain strong when the pandemic passes. While taking tough measures, such as the end of the sub-23 team, the 25% reduction in the salaries of players and some employees, and the renegotiation of debts, the ‘tricolor’ also points to a path that can bear many fruits: the digital market.
“I always say at meetings that what we are seeing is a control panel with several buttons that need to be pressed during this crisis. There is not a single miracle button that you will press and solve everything, but I have no doubt that digitalization, investment in technology and innovation are here to stay, they are accentuated in this pandemic moment and it is one of the club's ways of monetizing,” analyzes Guilherme Bellintani, president of Bahia, during an interview with local media CORREIO.
The club has looked with affection for a sector that consumes a lot of football, but is still little explored by the clubs. And the proximity to a portion of the crowd that does not leave the front of the screen, whether cell phone, tablet or computer, will become even greater in the coming days. The club plans to launch in June the ‘Digital Partner’, a streaming platform that promises to present daily content and go deeper behind the scenes of the team.
“We go from the evolution of products that already exist, such as behind the scenes videos, the Squadron Program, to the creation of new products such as the broadcast of training, base games, various stages of the games backstage, all this at the alive and allowing a lot of interactivity with the fans,” he continues.
For Bellintani, the exploration of this market represents the beginning of the rupture of the current contract model between clubs and traditional communication structures. The proof of this is that Bahia already plans in 2021 to broadcast through its own platform the games of the professional team in the Bahia Championship (state tournament). Currently, the club broadcasts women's team matches and grassroots categories through YouTube.
“We have TV Bahêa (YouTube), but our perception is that we are going to post-TV. Our platform will broadcast games, including the officials of the main team, as soon as possible and we have these rights,” he explains.
"Fun will access all the time, he will see daily training, athletes' presentations, women's games, backstage, dinner, all with a very journalistic and video language, we will not make a very square and formal production platform of this content,” guarantees the tricolor president.
In Brazil, Athletico-PR was the first club to bet on its own platform for the broadcast of matches. Through ‘Furacão Play’, launched in March, the team broadcasted live the derby against Coritiba, for the Paranaense Championship. Before the pandemic, Athletico had an agreement to show about 30 games in the 2020 season, including the state tournament and the Brazilian. Bahia thinks about following the same line.
“It is very clear to me that we are preparing the club to have a very robust platform and I would not say a projection of broadcast for 2025, as the contracts for the Brazilian Championship end in 2024, but we have other competitions such as the Copa do Nordeste and Bahia Championship. We also have several platforms that we are talking about, such as Dazn, so that the digital partner does not have to pay for Bahia games in the South American or Libertadores in the coming years. The idea is that this club’s platform becomes an integrator of competitions, since the fan has been very uncomfortable of having to pay several different platforms,” analyzes Bellintani.
New Bahia’s member category will cost R$ 10 (US$1.95), but allows the search for other revenues in addition to the monthly payment. Bellitani explains, for example, that he has been negotiating a partnership with a bookmaker. "For every fan who bets on that bookmaker platform from our application, Bahia will receive a percentage."
The club has also analyzed the eSports market. “We are looking at it with great interest, but we did not prioritize this year because we understand that this digital partner project is ahead of games, as it is more monetizable in the short term. I welcome the movement of games, not only to create a bond with the fans, but the amount of money involved in this market draws my attention,” concludes Bellintani.