Robert Klein: “We want to be the most popular football league in the world”

· by Patrick Gornic

Robert Klein joined Bundesliga International in May 2017 as Chief Commercial Officer. In January 2018, he took over the role as Chief Executive Officer driving the international position of the Bundesliga as one of the most innovative and exciting football leagues globally.

Klein was one of our speakers in WFS Asia and we talked with him about the plans that he has for Bundesliga International and its growing expansion.

Bundesliga has grown rapidly, what’s the key to the brand’s international expansion?

The Bundesliga is the second biggest football league in the world and sixth biggest sports league. Producing a world class product on and off the field has been key to internationalisation. What engages fans is that our league portrays football as it’s meant to be. What we mean by this is that it’s the most entertaining football league – evident by the highest number of goals compared to other top leagues, it delivers outstanding atmospheres thanks to packed stadiums every week, and its built around fans. We’ve capitalised on this thanks to our unique setup in which we own our full value chain – everything from the live broadcast production to the gathering of player data and digital content for example. This means we can regularly deliver high volumes of quality content to partners and fans around the world, day in day out. Focusing on localised content and marketing activities has really helped us bring the world much closer to the game in Germany.

In 2012 Bundesliga opened an office in Singapore. What’s the brand’s biggest objective in Asia?

We want to be the most popular football league in the world and Asia has huge potential in terms of numbers. With nearly one billion football fans across the region, and our market research showing that nearly half of them are interested in the Bundesliga, there’s a great opportunity for us to convert passive fans into avid followers of our league. To do this we must be on the ground, close to our fans and partners. That way we are able to exchange with them on a consistent basis. In this day and age, consumer patterns and demands are changing constantly. Content format and platforms are fragmenting the market place and by being in direct contact with our fans and partners we able to tailor the Bundesliga offering to their needs.

How important is for Bundesliga to have a high stadium attendance? What measures is Bundesliga putting into place to maintain the highest stadium attendance amongst the Big 5 European leagues?

We’re incredibly proud to be officially ranked as the best supported league in the world. What makes the Bundesliga so special is that you can experience football as it’s meant to be. Both entertainment and tradition are key factors that draw over 43,000 fans to every game, every week. High attendances are fantastic from a domestic point, in terms of the unique atmospheres, unlike any others, created by thousands of home and away fans, with stunning fan choreographies seen up and down the country throughout the season. It’s also incredibly important from an international perspective, providing us with a first class TV product for our partners and millions of fans consuming Bundesliga matches at varying times throughout their day. With the highest number of goals, compared to other European top flights, plus deep connections between clubs and their local community, add in low ticket prices and an incredible matchday experience, our attendance success is very much organic. Domestically, support for clubs is massive, but we’re also seeing a growing number of fans from other countries attend games as, in many cases, it’s cheaper for them to travel, buy tickets, food, etc than it is to attend a game in their own country.

Bundesliga is the owner of the world’s largest digital football archive. How big of a role does Big data play for its clubs and federation?

Data is an incredibly valuable asset that’s central to everything we do. Owning our full value chain and effectively running our own media house helps us to collate and process data from a number of sources. One example is our partnership with WSC who collect vast amounts of player movement data through innovative artificial intelligence technology. Data being gathered by our Business Intelligence Unit and regional offices is also helping us understand how fans consume football, on what platforms, how often, and what kind of content they enjoy most. We then use this to deliver personalised content that inspires and creates deeper connections which helps us and our clubs build our fan base in key markets.

What ‘s your take on World Football Summit and this kind of events?

It’s an honour to be here, meeting so many great people. WFS is a driver for new business opportunities for the football world in Asia. And new business is what makes the world go forward!

You can watch the keynote by Robert Klein here. Stay tuned for more information!