Top Soccer Teams Launch Social Net 'Dugout'

Scores of big publishers and content owners have thrown in their lot with Facebook, figuring there is no way they can match the scale of the world’s biggest social network. But not everyone is choosing to go the same way.

In fact, a few select institutions enjoy so much reach and loyalty that it makes sense for them to take on Facebook with rival social nets of their own – and professional soccer (that’s football to most of the world) is doing just that.

Over the weekend, the world’s top football clubs announced the launch of a new social network dedicated to professional soccer, generally conceded to be the world’s most popular sport. The new network, called “Dugout,” allows teams and players to communicate directly with fans by sharing video, pictures and other content.

It plans to monetize this activity with advertising, according to the clubs involved.

Crucially, Dugout’s founders claim some of this content will be exclusive to the social network for 24 hours, giving the network a major advantage over rival platforms, including TV and third-party online video. However, at launch it doesn’t offer live-streaming video or animated GIFs, meaning it will have a hard time matching the breadth of offerings on Facebook, Twitter, and other established social networks.

At launch, Dugout counts 20 of the world’s best-known football clubs as members, including FC Barcelona, Arsenal FC, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC, Paris St. Germain, AC Milan, Manchester United, Juventus, and Bayern Munich.

The clubs will own a half share and will receive a matching proportion of the company’s revenue, giving teams and players an incentive to participate and raise Dugout’s profile.

The site was founded with financial backing from British retail tycoon Philip Green, and expects to take in revenues of $75 million by its second year, according to Sky News.

Soccer isn’t the only big sport trying to capture some social media magic on its own turf.

Last October, Major League Baseball revealed that it was partnering with Vixlet to launch a new social network for baseball fans called “MLB Fans.”

The online social platform allows baseball fans to connect with their favorite teams and players, as well as other fans, and enables them to post personal photos, videos, comments and “likes” for a range of baseball-related content. They can also access a library of MLB videos, photos, GIFs and commentary, all updated daily.

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