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FC Barcelona: A $307 Million Deal With Spotify
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FC Barcelona has been struggling financially. The Catalan club is more than $1.5 billion in debt, and they lost over $530 million last year alone. They were forced to let Lionel Messi depart to PSG for free and are now operating on a $100 million salary cap this season — that’s about an eighth of the size of Real Madrid’s budget.
Joan Laporta decided to return last year for his second stint as club president. But more importantly, the club is finally fixing its balance sheet.
The world’s second-most popular club announced a four-year sponsorship deal with Spotify yesterday. The financial details weren’t released, but most reports put the total value at $307 million — that’s about $77 million annually.
Barcelona’s iconic Camp Nou—the largest stadium in Europe—will now be rebranded as “Spotify Camp Nou,” and the streaming giant will receive primary sponsorship inventory across Barcelona’s men’s, women’s, and training jerseys.
Here’s how Camp Nou will look for (at least) the next four years:
And here’s a look at Barcelona’s shirts with the Spotify logo:
The other detail worth mentioning is that Spotify might have been initially willing to pay more than $307 million. The streaming company reportedly requested data on Barcelona’s 350 million fans and determined that only 1% of them (3 million) were registered with the club — meaning they had consented to share their name, phone number, email, and other personal data.
That lack of fan data ended up bringing the total value of the deal down, according to Barca Universal.
“When Spotify initially approached Barcelona, they made enquiries about the club’s fan database. The soon-to-be sponsors wanted to know the number of ‘registered’ fans, i.e., the supporters who had given consent for the club to use their names, email, phone number and other personal information.
And the number is believed to have left them disappointed. Barcelona is a club with a massive fan following across the globe, with over 350 million followers supporting the Blaugrana. However, out of that, just 1% of the fans, approximately around 3 million, are ‘registered’.
This is believed to have affected the valuation of the deal with Spotify. The report states that in case the number of fans who had consented to the sharing of their personal data was higher, Barça would have stood to gain much more financially from the sponsorship deal.”
Now I think there are a few different ways to look at this.
Barcelona is attempting to dig itself out of a financial hole the size of which we have rarely seen in professional sports history. I doubt they wanted to give up naming rights to their iconic stadium. But when you’re a business that is $1.5 billion in debt, you can’t afford to pass on $300 million deals when they are presented.
The unfortunate part for Barcelona is that Spotify probably ended up getting the better end of the deal.
Barcelona previously worked with three different sponsors. Rakuten was paying $55 million each year for the men’s shirt. Beko was paying $19 million each year for the men’s sleeve & training shirt, and Stanley was paying $3.5 million each year for the women’s shirt — that’s a total of $77.5 million in annual income.
But now, Spotify is paying a similar $77 million annual fee for the same inventory, yet they will also receive naming rights to the iconic stadium.
And when you compare Barcelona to other iconic sports organizations globally, it doesn’t look much better. For example, Teamviewer is paying Manchester United $60 million annually. Emirates is paying Real Madrid $75 million annually, and Oracle just signed a deal with Red Bull’s F1 team that costs $100 million annually.
Sure, not all of these deals are the same, but even the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers see about $55 million in annual income for a small 2.5 square inch patch on their jersey and naming rights to their arena.
My point is that it’s a big deal, but many expected it to be even bigger.
The ROI for Spotify is much more difficult to determine. The world’s most popular audio streaming service launched in 2008 and now has 381 million users, including 172 million paying subscribers, across 184 markets.
But they have a freemium business model. That means their free, ad-supported service acts as a funnel, driving over 60% of their total gross premium subscribers. So even if you wanted to strictly look at it from a customer acquisition standpoint, the cost to support their free product would also have to be considered.
Monthly Spotify Users By Region
North America: 24%
Latin America: 22%
Rest of the World: 20%
I don’t look at this as a performance marketing exercise for Spotify. They will strive for a profitable ROAS, of course, but it’s historically difficult to assign a formulaic, data-driven approach to marketing deals that involve naming rights.
It’s typically much more about growth and brand awareness. And if that’s Spotify’s goal, there might not be a better choice right now than Barcelona.
Have a great day, and we’ll talk tomorrow.
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