Manchester City Football Club is neck-and-neck with neighboring Manchester United at this early stage of the English Premier League season, but the world’s wealthiest club is aiming to streak ahead in the online content space.

Manchester City is to become the first English Premier League team to sign a content deal with YouTube, letting the club control its rights-owned and club-created YouTube videos, as well as manage the advertising around its content.

Back in August we reported on the club’s digital agenda, which is seeing some pretty innovative initiatives, such as an RFID-enabled season membership card, with a QR code and an augmented reality placeholder, which has been used to let fans pose with the FA Cup. And last season, we reported that Manchester City was holding an open training session, and was trialling a live video-stream of the event on Facebook.

Since the club launched its YouTube channel, Manchester City has been investing heavily in populating it with content for fans around the world. The first video uploaded of French footballer Samir Nasri signing for the club notched up over half-a-million views in three days.

CityTV, the club’s in-house production team, create over a hundred videos a month for the official club website, and this will also be uploaded to the new YouTube channel.

MCYT 520x710 Manchester City becomes first English football club to sign YouTube content deal

It’s important to note that footage from matches won’t be available on YouTube due to licensing restrictions, so it will be more about making behind-the-scenes footage, interviews and insights available.

Richard Ayers, Head of Digital, for Manchester City, said:

“Manchester City is having a phenomenal year of growth and development online. Our goal is to deliver a market leading experience for fans in terms of online video.  That means delivering the great content we make to where the audience is – i.e. on YouTube. This deal is the first move in laying the foundations of our syndication strategy and is part of a series of deals to expand our online capabilities.The ability to extend our reach and to increase accessibility to audiences is great, but we’re also looking forward to exploring the differentiating factors of YouTube, like using annotations, making bespoke interactive video and, more than anything else, becoming part of the thriving YouTube community.”

Manchester City’s recent rise started when Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, from Abu Dhabi, acquired the club and started investing heavily in 2008. Whilst most professional teams in the UK charge users to access its online content, Manchester City began bucking that trend when it started offering its online content for free. The YouTube deal is being seen as part of the club’s longer term strategy to build commercial partnerships with online and social media companies. Jeff Nathenson, Head of Sports Partnerships for YouTube, said:

“We are excited that Manchester City has become the first English Premier League club to become a commercial partner with YouTube.  They are proving to be an exciting club both on the pitch and in the digital media space.  We believe this kind of deal will have a global impact, allowing them to reach new fans in new territories with compelling original content.”