We live in a digital age where vast content is freely available across many mediums. But do football fan channels, steadily gaining momentum on YouTube, deserve to be taken seriously as media sites?
The fan channels of top Premier League teams are ranked as followed in relation to their number of YouTube subscribers.
ArsenalFanTV: 445,000 +
FullTime DEVILS: 343,000 +
The Redmen TV: 157,000 +
BlueMoonRising: 43,000 +
100% Chelsea: 27,000 +
SpurredOn: 20,000 +
It would be naïve to label this as revolutionary citizen journalism that’s threatening the mainstream. However, it’s a valuable addition to progressive sports media.
Fan channels are authentic and alive with emotion. Compare this to The Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast, a more measured and insightful outlet. It’s a refreshing balance when both are consumed.
But fan channels can also be informative. You’re hearing the opinions of lifelong fans that pay to watch the same team every week. There’s a romanticism attached to listening to an older fan in a bar talking about the club he’s followed for decades. These YouTube videos can inspire similar insights.
There’s rawness to it as minutes after the final whistle, before having considerable time to reflect, fans will express their emotion in an unrestrictive interview.
Would actually love spurs to win the league just to see the reaction on arsenal fan TV😂😂😂
— David Bradshaw (@DavidBradshaw23) April 16, 2017
Supporters feel empowered as their voice is given a platform allowing them to be more involved during match day.
Radio offers a similar service but fan channels are unique as you can see the supporter, their pain, anger, or joyful pride as they display their beloved colours.
The clubs culture is presented as fans gather outside the stadium with chants audible in the background, coverage often more relatable than reading an article or listening to a podcast.
Football is ideally suited to this type of media. No other sport involves such intense and loyal fanbases who, despite the overused cliché, follow their team religiously.
Mainstream media won’t be affected. After all, venerable Spanish reporter Guillem Balague has 983,000 Twitter followers as opposed to Arsenal Fan TV’s 164,000. However, fan channels were not designed to lure away spectators from the likes of Monday Night Football.
Their content is made by fans for fans. West Ham Fan TV’s Post Match Pint show was a simple yet greatly innovating idea that reaches to a working class audience.
We should embrace this modern means of fan representation as well as appreciate the outstanding journalists who cover the beautiful game for a living.
Both warrant respect for offering varying media and football fan channels are a worthy addition to this busy news cycle.
We now have the luxury of accessing those engaging post-match fan interviews on a Saturday evening while then enhancing our knowledge during the week via thought-provoking articles from Henry Winter, an engaging podcast like Graham Hunters or listening to Gary Neville break down the events of the weekend.
Sports media is changing and in a time when journalism is frequently dismissed as clickbait and predictable, it’s beneficial to remember that there is attractive content out there, and fan channels are now indelibly linked to that sphere.