West London-based Premiership rugby club London Irish has experienced significant change after a recent move to their new home at Brentford Community Stadium off the back of a challenging 18 months in the industry. Their recent introduction of a pioneering season ticket subscription model at the club is making waves in the industry for its vision to reach out and connect with new rugby fans. We talk to Marketing and Communications Director Ian Taylor about what inspired this new model and how it came about.
Your new subscription model is revolutionary in professional rugby, can you tell us how this came about?
It was something we spoke at length about with our Creative Agency, UnitedUs – and it grew arms and legs over the summer, as our preparations for the 2021/22 season gathered pace. We spoke with our counterparts at FC Copenhagen, who have adopted a similar model for some time. They’ve enjoyed great success with it. It’s the future, for sure. From Netflix, to gym memberships, you name it, subscriptions are the model they’re all adopting, so I can only see it lifting off in the coming months and years. It just felt it was the right time for us to try something different, coinciding with our move back to London after 20 years in Reading.
What’s driving this new thinking?
Following our move back to London, our aim is to attract a new audience and demographic to the Club, to help increase attendances. What’s more, the move to the Brentford Community Stadium presents us with an incredible opportunity to reach out to and engage with a younger audience. The main challenge to engage with millennials comes down to cost and commitment – the subscription model takes that challenge away. This is the way that millennials are used to paying for their services and entertainment, it’s part of their learned culture. We are confident that the product that we can deliver on match days at London Irish will keep people coming back for more – and we’re excited about being the first rugby club to adopt such a model, making attending London Irish fixtures more accessible than ever before.
Following on from the recent partnership announcement with Ticketmaster Sport, how is the new partnership enabling new initiatives such as the subscription model?
Ticketmaster Sport have been hugely supportive of our subscription model – and everything else we’ve thrown at them since we began our partnership. It’s always a hectic time in the countdown to the new season, but this season was more hectic than ever before with our switch to TM, as well as the launch of our new Club App.
It’s been a remarkably tough year for the industry as a whole and for sports fans, how has this new initiative been received by fans?
The model is still very much in its infancy. It’s a brand new product and as such, it’ll take time for supporters to fully engage with it, but the early signs are positive and we are confident it will be a resounding success. We are expecting a decent uptake in October, a month where we play three home matches – a month where a subscription will represent exceptional value for money.