Q&A with Chris Thomas, Director of Digital for the LA Galaxy

Interviewed by Mike Carrier, VP, Media & Entertainment, GlobalLogic

Insight categories: CloudDigital TransformationMobilityMedia

Q&A with Chris Thomas, Director of Digital for the LA Galaxy

Interviewed by Mike Carrier, VP, Media & Entertainment, GlobalLogic

Chris, first of all, congratulations to the Galaxy on another winning season. Post-season appearances for the last 8 straight seasons. #1 in championships with 5 Cups. Tied for #1 in Supporter’s Shields with 4. It’s truly amazing.

Thank you very much. It’s been a long and enjoyable season and I’m proud of how we played.

It’s a real team effort at the LA Galaxy, and everyone contributes so much to our success—the players, the coaches and, of course, our fans. Not to mention all of our partners. I feel very fortunate.

Speaking of fans, the Galaxy have a very strong fan base, both in the US and globally. How would you characterize the special relationship the Galaxy has with its fans?

The LA Galaxy pride themselves on having the best fans in Major League Soccer. LA Galaxy supporters have been the lifeblood of our club ever since over 69,000 fans attended our first match at the Rose Bowl. Those same fans are what make attending matches at StubHub Center week in, week out.

Everything decision we make as an organization we ask “is this good for our fans?” We work tirelessly year after year to make the gameday experience at StubHub Center the best in professional sports. But the biggest part of making that gameday experience unique is the atmosphere that Galaxy fans provide.

The Galaxy continue to be #1 in Digital in the MLS. Kudos to you and your team for that. What have you done in the last several years to be able to achieve and, moreover, sustain that leadership?

In my opinion, the biggest factor for our recent success in the digital space has been having a consistent strategy. Each year, we set a detailed plan and share it across the club. This allows us to get buy-in of our strategy from across our entire organization.

With that support, we’ve been able to craft a really unique tone and voice over the last three years that seems to resonate with our supporters.

You have a policy of responding to each and every tweet or post during a game. That is a very ambitious goal. Why is it so important, and how do you manage to do that?

Engagement is a core tenant of our digital strategy and the club’s overall mission. We feel that it’s worth investing the resources into engaging with and responding to social posts.

Social media is meant to be social, and we pride ourselves on making social media a two-way conversation. There’s many examples of social media users being turned into real fans of the Galaxy because they developed an affinity for the club after interacting with us on social.

What is the expected impact of the new digital platform on the team in its ability to engage fans and enhance their experience?

Our biggest goal with the new digital platform is to improve the gameday experience. Soccer is such a unique sport without any natural breaks in play.

Therefore, we think digital is a space where we can really help to enhance the experience during pre-game, post-game and halftime by reducing wait times, parking congestion, etc. During the match, we hope the platform provides an engaging second-screen experience that enhances the experience of attending a match or watching one on TV.

How will the platform cater to different types of fans?

We are working on developing the digital platform to provide a contextual experience. We feel that the need of fans who are attending a match, as opposed to fans that might be following the game from abroad are completely different. Since the goal is to improve the gameday experience, we hope to be able to do that whether you are in the stadium or not.

Why is building a “digital platform” versus just a “mobile app” so important?

We want to develop a platform that we can build upon for years to come. We feel that a digital platform has the potential to have a real transformative effect on our business. There are real business challenges that we feel a digital platform can help us address, especially in the realm of big data.

How are fans playing a role in the design and development of the digital platform?

This is a digital platform for the fans and fans’ input is a huge factor in its development.

One of the first things that GlobalLogic did was interview key fans and season ticket holders and that information really shaped the design of the platform. Moving forward, fans will continue to provide feedback at key stages in the development of the platform well before its launch. We feel that this approach will really help set the platform apart from other apps on the market.

Why did you select GlobalLogic over other companies to build the digital platform? What was different about its approach?

More than any other company, GlobalLogic strove to create a real partnership. They listened to us and wanted to work together to create a unique platform that would be innovative in the space and really service the needs of our fans.

GlobalLogic wanted to create a partnership that would last for years and it was a clear choice for the Galaxy.

What do you see happening in the future as fan engagement evolves? Do you see a role for new technologies like virtual reality, egaming, etc.?

No matter how technology develops, I still feel that content and storytelling will be key. I see these new technologies as a way to enhance your ability to tell stories, not as a substitute. For example, around e-gaming, if the Galaxy were going to move into that space, we wouldn’t do it just to do it. We’d want to do it in an authentic way that allows us to better tell the story of our club and its fans.

It will be interesting to see if these technologies eventually replace the experience of attending a live sporting match or enhance it.


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