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Arsenal prepare for HD Broadband and mastery of the universe

By Tony Attwood

Why would anyone want to put money into football?  Why would the Chinese want Liverpool, the Arabs want Manchester City, and anyone want Leeds United?

The people who have continuously talked about why (although not directly) are the Glazer family who suggest that all will be ok soon because the new internet and media roll out of football.  It might not do much for Manchester United but it certainly could save the Glazer family (or so they say).

Football in modern times has been about endlessly finding new sources of income.  In the old days there was only one source of income – the gate money.  I doubt that Arsenal’s books in 1919 looked much different from their books in 1959 – income from matches, outgoings the wages and the ground.

But then along came TV, and there was a rush to grow the income and everyone thought it was wonderful.  Except that all these growth scenarios have a way of coming to an end – and because by then the clubs have all built their business on growth, they get desperate to find the new source of cash.  (And because most clubs are run by the Silly Gang, they always think each one will last forever, and costs will never catch up.)

Just think how it has gone:

1:  The Cup Final on TV and that was your lot.

2: Match of the Day and that funny programme they had on ITV.

3: Live football instead of recorded highlights, but with only BBC and ITV to bid for it, the income stayed low.

4: Lots and lots of live football – because Sky was in the scene – initially with analogue and then with digital.  This is the latest source of revenue to reach the top of the mountain at just under £600m a year for the EPL.

5: International television rights still shooting up and now at £460m.  In the UK watching overseas football has never been big time (Channel 4 started it showing Italian TV, now the Italians can hardly give their rights away, and with Spain becoming a pale imitation of Scotland, the interest there has gone too).  But the EPL is on the up, and it might well go on rising – but again there will be a limit.

6: Europe. The Champs League has the money as is where everyone wants to be.  Without it, you have no income.   But, imagine this… supposing the clubs sponsored by benefactors (Man Arab, KGB etc) say, “we don’t really care about the Champs League – the EPL is bigger than the Champs League” and don’t even bother to curtail their buying in order to qualify, then at once the Champs League gets devalued.

7: Matchday income – static or declining for many.  Arsenal are one of the few who have managed to push this up to new levels with the Ems, but the Ems is full, so there is nowhere to go, except with more on-site retail.

8: Shirt sales – the way that Real Madrid was supposed to buy C Ronaldo.  I can’t work out when shirt sales started, but putting out two or three new shirts every season looks to be the end of the line.  Sales can’t go up much more, and once the fashion ends they decline.  The notion that a player could be bought by income from shirt sales was so silly, it must have been based on marketing experimentation – as in,

Marketing Director: “I know the punters are cretins, but do you think they are so stupid to go for this story?”

Chairman: “Only one way to find out – let’s try it.”

9: Clubs’ own TV stations – Arsenal have just announced that Arsenal TV is to become Arsenal Media and, according to the blurb that means “different broadcast and media channels.   In English, HD broadband.  And that is what Stan Kroenke knows about, and why he is there.   There’s no point in thinking about take-overs and Kroenke going to 30% ownership – he owns half of Arsenal broadband – and that’s where the club thinks the next round of money is.

We will be offered background programmes in the UK and Ireland via Arsenal Media, and actual games for the rest of the world.  Forget the crummy pictures from Austria this summer – this is HD, once the cables are in place.

It starts this season (although not in HD) with a step up in terms of programming but I suspect it would be a mistake to consider whatever is put out this season as anything other than a modest start.   “The new Arsenal Media brand reflects the paradigm shift from a traditional television-centric approach, to one that is focused on creating broader, multi-platform content and programme formats that can be effectively delivered and re-appropriated across different broadcast and media channels,” says the blurb.  Make of that what you can (and if you have an English translation, please do let me have it).

10: Bang. There is a problem with all this.  I love Arsenal, but even when Arsenal TV was on Setanta I only watched it sometimes.  I liked the reserve games and occasionally an old match, but not much more.  I only have 18 hours a day to play with, and I have books to write, a family to love and enjoy, dances to go to, movies to watch, books to read, friends to visit…  There is in fact only one thing missing at the moment in football terms – and that is the away match which is not televised live on Sky.   Once I have that, that’s it.

Marketing around the club is huge in the US, and it could be so here, and that is what people are banking on.  If it happens Arsenal will be there, worldwide.  If not, fortunately we are not dependent on it, and we can go back a step.

Remember, nothing grows forever – just as our friendly high street bankers forget, and then found out, but never had to pay the price for.

Untold Arsenal – all the bits than most other people think are rather pointless and silly not to mention trivial and occasionally boring but we think are part of the essence of the whole equation if you see what I mean

Woolwich Arsenal – just the same but without electromagnetism.

Making the Arsenal – beyond everything you could imagine

17 comments to Arsenal prepare for HD Broadband and mastery of the universe

  • WalterBroeckx

    Like you said it Tony: nothing grows for ever and at that moment in time you have to prepare yourself. Our club does this in a great way.

    If there would be an Arsenal channel where I can see any game from Arsenal I would pay for it. Well if it has a good quality. Maybe even silly money but then I could get rid of our paying TV channel as I don’t want to see Spuds against the sheikhs playing.

  • Armin

    I would not agree with you Walter, its great fun to watch Spuds vs Midget Chelsea. I mean its great to watch anyone whom you hate playing other one you hate, you are happy with every scored goal, and even more when they miss.

  • Yclaves

    Hi Tony, I already exited for the Arsenal HD TV,
    so as stated, can you tell when this project will
    come into effect? I want to watch my Club our
    own channel

  • Phil

    It’s going to be interesting. If club’s start selling live rights on the internet, will we still have it centrally negotiated? I certainly hope so, otherwise competitiveness in the League will be screwed.

  • Wilsheres dad

    An interesting read (as usual). Yes, there is an upper limit for the revenue to be gained from international viewing rights,but I think we’re currently a long way from it.
    I would suggest that although the medium via which it is viewed may well change (TV to PC or I-phones)& the ownership of the means of broadcast will change (BBC/ITV/SKY/ESPN to the clubs), exploitation of the EPL in the world market is still in it’s infancy.

  • N Nusrat

    It is definitely a good idea to be ahead of your competitors when it comes to embracing new technology. But I wonder who would subscribe those new HD-quality videos of Arsenal matches? The existing crop of fans already pays a lot to watch their beloved club’s matches and there is a limit to how much more they can spend. Until new neutral customers are willing to pay for this content I don’t see it generating much revenue.
    The only thing that would draw new fans is consistent demonstration of success on the pitch. After all, who would like to pay to watch a team that is a consistent 4th and an occasionally third in the EPL season after season and fails to win a single trophy season after season?
    The people running Arsenal FC will have to realize that they first have to invest more in the team before they invest in fancy technology. Arsenal die-hards will always be there, but no neutral football (or ‘soccer’ as they here in the USA) fan would like pay to watch a team that loses or draws more often than it wins.

  • IncredibleG

    Translation of blurb: We’ve been paying different people to create, distribute and sell our marketing – f*ck that, we want more money.

  • zeldaprimed

    the blurb means that they are more than likely looking at how to not just have stuff for TV or the internet…but also mobiles…basically the different OS’s there are for different smartphones…

    iOS 4, android…windows phone…

    Internet TVs, Xbox 360, Playstation 3…stuff…

    I, personally, am excited to hear this…cannot wait for Arsenal to start having a massive foothold in all these growing markets…

    (if im not mistaken, I think fans were able to purchase an Arsenal kit for their Avatar thingy on Playstation Home…brilliant!)

  • steww

    N Nusrat
    The facts don’t fit your argument. Arsenal’s international fan base has grown enormously, the Emirates is always sold out and has a massive waiting list. You see people like a club with history, morals and above all a club which plays beautiful football.
    The ‘Arsenal doesn’t invest in the team’ crap doesn’t wash, especially after the years and resources that have been put into developing our current squad.

  • steww

    Sorry , Nusrat, I was so shocked by the nonsense you posted that I didn’t read right to the end. Having just read this “a team that loses or draws more often than it wins.” Tell me, when has this ever happened?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Steww, I think we have to go to the era before Wenger to have had more losing than wins.

  • A Casual Observer

    Great post – thumbs up!

  • Hartwick89

    Tony,

    The only way I would sign is if they guaranteed every Arsenal match live… That is all I would need… I could care less about re-runs, reserve matches etc… Actually while I am wishing what they should do is if we sign we are guaranteed a good package to see a a live EmS game from wherever you are on the globe! I am drooling!

  • munawwar

    ok this will be long… but some good points made by me.. and a guy writing to an Anti arsenal website. hopefully untold can make a post on it later… haha! : – )

    this might become long.. * it has..

    i read this comment by a guy who got bugged with an anti arsenal website and he had some nice points.. with some facts about this “trophy” obsession which has now started for a while now.

    i am gonna paste the comment after this one point. which is that all the “trophy” fight 5 years ago was between arsenal and man u. man u already have a really big stadium and a lot of backing and lot of money. while wenger was winning trohies with a smaller stadium and not the commercial mentality of its main rival club man utd. man utd has a huge 75k stadium right from the beginning and arsenal had a 38k stadium. right there the club has less money. 2ndly man utd does a lot of commercial kisssing ass in united states and in asia. which i dont know why arsenal dosent. thats the board to decide. but during this time we had the invincible’s era .

    so after that era it was decided to make new stadium. and start with youth project. which takes time. cause a person takes time to grow.. from youth to a man. i don’t understand why people dont understand it. and i also fail to understand why people dont understand the financial fair play rules coming up. i mean are people so horny for trophies that it has to happen now.

    i guess thats the nature of todays world with the multi rich owners taking huge debts and buying players for immediate success like what chelsea and now man city are trying to do. cant do much about it. wenger is stubborn. he would rather loose than to compromise on his principles. he is stubborn. cant do much about it. sure he has been wrong sometimes. but hey we are not in that postion. i am sure i cant manage a 1billion $ club. haha!

    and now for the msg from the guy posted with some good states on trophies. only man u liverpool and arsenal have 10+ ” trophies ” and all these guys saying chelsea are great etc etc.. its just temporary. that club like mancity has no vision. we all know what has happened to liverpool because of poor management. and no vision. and no money. they still have a small stadium. and now after no trophies from sooo many years they still are not going to win anything. sure they had a champions league victory … we could have also had that in 2006. but we didn’t thanks to yet again = almunia! hahaha… somethings don’t change at arsenal.

    and now the persons reply to the anti arsenal website :

    From Benth : Time to cool the engines ?

    Some younger (and even some older, these days) gooners seem to believe that our club has some kind of a divine right to win titles. All the time. But not so.

    This soon to be 125 years old club has won the league 13 times, equals one title each ten years in average. A little less than Man Utd and Liverpool, but not by mutch. Other English teams are not even close.

    Mark my words: Some years from now, the work of Wenger done during the last few years, will be regarded as the work of a genius.

    From a historical point of view, five years without a major trophy is, well: nothing. Nothing. If – if !!! – this drought we’re now experiencing, is the cost of the fundation for success in the future. Then it’ll be MORE than worth it.

    No, I don’t think all the big man does is as brilliant as it could have been. He is not almighty. In Norway we have this saying: Trees don’t grow into heaven. And I’m told that not even the tall French ones normally does that.

    But building the new stadium was in fact much like getting a higher education – like getting a degree from the university: It takes time, it takes money, and it takes a LOT of hard work.

    Yes, you DO have to sacrifice some to get it.

    But once you’ve done it, no one can take it away from you. You’ve got it, and you’ve got it for life. You have moved up a level. Was it worth it ? You bet it was worth it !!!

    I think we all realize that the arrival of ultra-rich owners from all over the universe, crowding the PL like flees on a dogs…well, you get the story, has changed the stakes a bit.

    Not even Wenger could have anticipated this. And it sure make some gooners rather nervous, these days.

    But when the new financial regulations start to work some years from now, there will be at least ONE club on this continent in a healthy financial condition. One club in between all the clubs lying around with broken backs.

    Always the future, you say. Always the future. And what about the youngsters – the young players? What if they don’t have the patience to wait another year? What about Cesc? And the commitments we have for HIM ???

    Let me quote Michael Jordan on this one before I’m finished: “There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren’t willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team.The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves.Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

    Tomorrow it starts all over again. I guess that means it’s about time to heat the engines…

    Regards from Norway, Benth.#

  • Hartwick89

    munawwar,

    Take a deep breath. OK now a real deep breath. You have now just joined the faculty of dissecting good vs. bad football. If you are new or have just voiced opinion this will be your last stop. All those other supposed Arsenal site’s will now end. In here we cover from beginning to end of Arsenal (Ok the beginning is in the sister site woolwich) but no need to be bothered by the other antagonist sites you are currently visiting. This site will fufill all your Arsenal needs including proper economics, pre-game analysis, post game analysis, absolute humor, Wenger vision, transfers, & all Arsenal true knowlegde needs. From time to time imposters or catastrophists visit and plague us all with their BS. But, as the Untold community we pick them apart for who they are. And they are either a minority of catastrophists, spud fans, or occasional others. Now, as I am found guilty of visiting other great pro-Arsenal sites like Arsenal Column, Young Guns, & occassionaly Legendaire (which is privy to outlandish knowledge such as “his dad invented the ?). But, here we all agree on one thing the truth! And, so welcome you will not be dissatified….But, in the summer you may be bored at times but is sooo short that Arsenal alas will be playing their first game. And, so it goes on again and again. Truth is such a good thing!

  • FEDDA

    The only problem with this hd thing is that they will be showing only Arsenal games. How much will they charge? Will it be a lot more/less than sky? If I wan’t to watch other games, which I do, do I have to get sky aswell? Watching Arsenal is great, but I do enjoy other games too. Today I pay £20 a month in Norway with every single game live and HD.

  • Richard B

    Having pointed out on this blog (at least a year ago) that the key Kroenke-related statistic is not his sub-30% ownership of the Club but his 50% ownnership of Arsenal Broadband it’s good to see discussion of the consequences of this postioning.
    Ironically it happened as a direct result of the collapse of ITV Digital which so undermined the finances of clubs further down the leagues. ITV’s need to raise revenue led to them selling their 9.9% stake in Arsenal and it was our Stan that stepped in to buy it – and with it, the half share of the Clubs ‘media’ interests.
    As has been discussed many times on this site (and at AST meetings)Kroenke, unlike so many other owners, has no record of taking money out of his sporting institutions – at least not before he has helped create significant addition revenues that benefit the club in question.
    Perhaps, in future, owners and shareholders will be able to draw dividends from their investment in the Club – but only on the basis of what the media operation can deliver, not from matchday revenues and other, more traditional, sources of revenue.
    I can also see a time when those of us who pay to watch the team will also draw dividend from these additional sources of revenue in the form of lower ticket prices. In fact, the easier it is to watch the game on the internet the cheaper the tickets will have to be to encourage future generations to go to watch a live game. In some ways sad – but getting bums on seats isn’t going to get any easier for many clubs – especially those who don’t play our brand of football.