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OneFootball acquires Dugout in content-focused deal

Berlin-based soccer platform raises US$61m to finance acquisition.

by Tom Bassam

OneFootball acquires Dugout in content-focused deal
  • Dugout’s ten founding soccer club partners gain stake in OneFootball
  • Companies claim combined monthly global reach of 85m users

Digital soccer media company OneFootball has agreed to buy video content specialists Dugout in a deal designed to expand its content proposition.

Lucas von Cranach, founder and chief executive of Berlin-based OneFootball, told Bloomberg that the company raised around €50 million (US$61 million) from investors to help finance the deal, as well as fund future investment.

The cash-and-stock acquisition sees Dugout’s founding clubs – Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid –  and new shareholder Olympique de Marseille receive a stake in OneFootball.

Seeking to build a brand-safe platform outside of social media, the deal will bolster OneFootball’s digital offering with Dugout’s suite of products and platforms, including its network of more than 110 premium publishers, to now reach more than 85 million global monthly active users.

As the two companies combine their services, their existing and new soccer club partners will have the opportunity to tap into a broader digital ecosystem and data insights to explore direct-to-consumer (DTC) and other monetisation opportunities.

The combined OneFootball and Dugout offer to premium publishers will also be enhanced with a deeper pool of archive video content delivered via a plug and play embed solution. In territories such as Brazil, where OneFootball holds premium soccer broadcast rights to the likes of the Bundesliga and Ligue 1, the addition of Dugout content is designed to enhance the offering to third-party publishers.

The brand side of the business also grows, as OneFootball’s first party user data is combined with Dugout’s fan profiling platform, FanPro, to enhance audience understanding and increase targeting options through audience segmentation.

At the front end, users will gain access to combined editorial content which draws from the best of both parties, including live and archive footage, breaking news, scores, analysis, insights and features.

“Since forming OneFootball, our ambition has been to become the ultimate destination for everything football, both on and off the pitch, and our acquisition of Dugout reflects this,” said Von Cranach.

“This move will benefit the whole football ecosystem with clubs, federations and leagues able to increase audience reach and harness our powerful data insights to gain a deeper understanding of their fans’ engagement. Our brand and advertising partners will have access to new, contextually-relevant destinations to reach highly engaged football fans on a global scale, with a local approach.

“Welcoming ten of the world’s biggest football clubs as shareholders is a special occasion and we will be working closely alongside them, and OneFootball’s existing shareholders, to create exciting direct-to-consumer opportunities.”

Dugout was launched in 2016 by its chairman, Elliot Richardson, who will remain with the group as part of the deal. Clubs including Arsenal, Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona and Juventus were among its founding shareholders.

“The clubs will speak with one voice in this venture,” Stefan Mennerich, director of media, digital and communication at Bayern Munich, said of the deal. “OneFootball will be a relevant worldwide platform, partially owned by the clubs. It will be good to be not just a passenger on the train.”

OneFootball launched in 2008 and today serves more than 70 million soccer fans globally. In recent years, the company has moved into live rights acquisitions, offering both pay-per-view (PPV) and free-to-air content depending on territory.