Microsoft scores Real Madrid 'digital transformation' deal

Spanish football club will offer data analytics platform to players, staff, and fans.
Written by Steve Evans, Contributor
Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium. Image: nacroba / Shutterstock.com

Microsoft has signed a four-year deal with Real Madrid to undertake what it calls a "digital transformation" at the Spanish football giant.

The digital platform will have a heavy emphasis on data and analytics and will offer fans "exclusive, personalised and customised" content that can be accessed online, the software company said. This will be powered by Microsoft's Power BI for Office 365. Microsoft will also be supplying players and staff at Real Madrid with Surface Pro 3 tablets.

Orlando Ayala, VP and chairman of emerging markets at Microsoft, said in a blog post that the deal will enable fans to "build graphic comparisons of players, matches and other key stats".

"The digital platform we're designing with Real Madrid is maniacally focused on putting fans at the center, and opening access and control of rich content and experiences that bring them closer to their passion for the game and the team," Ayala's blog post added.

At an event held at Real's Santiago Bernabéu stadium, Microsoft's chief data analyst Marc Reguera demonstrated the analytic capabilities that will be open to fans. He pulled up statistics of goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo dating back to 2003, covering who he scored for and against and where. Reguera used this information to create an interactive visual of every city in Europe where Ronaldo has scored, zooming right in on satellite images of the different stadia where those goals were scored.

As well as statistics on players, the Microsoft platform will enable fans to look at details of specific matches, such as Real's recent victory over Barcelona or the Champions League final from May this year.

Data on players past and present will be available as well, so fans can, for example, see which players make up Real Madrid’s best ever team in terms of the number of matches won.

Also speaking at the event, Florentino Pérez, Real Madrid's president, said: "Today we explore a new place for Real Madrid, one that will make us stronger now and in the future. We are taking our relationship with Microsoft a step further: a digital alliance that will revolutionise the relationship between the club and its fans... a digital community of 120 million fans across the world."

This isn't Microsoft's first foray into sports. In 2013 it announced a $400m, five-year deal to supply Surface tablets to teams in the NFL to use on the sidelines during matches. However that deal perhaps hasn't been the success Microsoft was hoping for, as many announcers keep referring to the tablets as 'iPads'. 

This also isn't the first deal between Microsoft and Real Madrid. In May 2013 the two companies struck a deal to promote social projects to help children across Latin America through sport and technology. In November last year Microsoft was rumoured to be close to agreeing a deal with Real for naming rights to the iconic Santiago Bernabéu stadium, but so far no formal announcement has been made.

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