Publishers, This Is The Ultimate Membership Club

arsenal-football-clubIt employs 11 full-time staff to run its website, boasts a video on demand service charging £45 a year, a mobile video service at £1.50 a week, a cable TV channel and, coming soon, a £2.99 Apple i-Phone app.

Oh, and it has Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese-language versions of its website, plus a US-facing site.

But this is no traditional global publisher getting its digital act together. This is a football club. Arsenal Football Club in this example but others, including the obscenely rich Manchester City, are doing something similar.

In a fascinating piece on paidContentUK – part-titled, Sports Media Beware – Patrick Smith notes how this is a great example of targeting a specific community, and charging for the privilege.

And he poses a tricky question for more established media to answer:

If Arsenal offers fans direct, undiluted access to highlights, interviews, news and maybe one day live action, why would fans pay for access to Time Online’s football zone?

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‘No Branding Or Devotion – Only Utility.’

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