By Kevin Koczwara
I don’t subscribe to HBO, but what I’ve seen of “Hardknocks” put me off to the idea that a legendary club like Liverpool would look to do something similiar with “Our Liverpool: Never Walk Alone,” a FOX Soccer documentary that will air six episodes. The documentary is suppose to be an in-depth look at the club, the team and the players from last year’s FA Cup loss through to the new Premier League season. First look at the trailer, though, and I’m sold on this idea and what it means for the club going forward.
“My point of view is that American fans are used to documentary coverage like this, and whether it is ‘Hard Knocks’ or ‘The Franchise,’ these kinds of programs are good for the fans and good for the sport,” Liverpool Chairman Tom Werner told Fox Soccer.com. “Our fans want to know more about who these players are and what their lives are like off the pitch. I just think it strengthens the connections people have to our players and helps the popularity of the sport.”
Wener is a smart businessman. There is little doubt about that. What he, principal owner John Henry and the rest of Fenway Sports Group have done to get people more in-touch and more interested in the Boston Red Sox since they bought the team has been brilliant, besides a few PR gaffs here and there along the way. Red Sox fans may be upset with the “pink hat” culture of fandom surrounding the team. But those extra bodies watching on television and in the stands have made the team more money and in turn helped fund some of the team’s operational costs. The more fans a team has, the more money it can generate through sales, ticket prices and demand for air-time adverting/prime-time viewership.
Fenway Park was a dump before Henry and co. came along. I peed in a trough as a kid going to the ballpark. There was a crappy board in the outfield. And I always questioned why no one ever sat above the Green Monster — I was told it wasn’t possible, turns out it is OK and expensive to sit there. People may complain about the over-paid players and the team’s lack of starting pitching/committed starting pitchers, but that’s not the point. The point is the Red Sox weren’t a global brand and the team’s stadium was falling apart and behind the times. Now the team is up to speed and the park is more relevant than ever. And the Red Sox as an organization are better for it.
This documentary, while it scares me a bit, gives Liverpool the chance to try and hook new fans who are still unsure about which Premier League club they want to cheer for and follow. There is still and untapped market of young fans in America, and even older fans, who can be swayed to sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” instead of buying a Wayne Rooney or Juan Mata jersey. With Liverpool’s recent dip in form, this is the time to try and hook more fans and expand the global reach while not carrying home the league trophy. It’s a tough road ahead, but the more streams of income the team has, and the more of a brand it carries, the better off the team is in the long-run, especially with Financial Fair Play creeping up.
Some may not like the intrusion and the selling of the Liverpool brand on television, but sports have become more and more a business venture, and the only way to make your business grow is to try and recruit more loyal followers. That’s where this documentary should come in hand.