LONDON: Young football fans are tiring of traditional media coverage of their sport and are increasingly seeking out alternatives on online channels, where the viewing figures are attracting the interest of advertisers.
In a development reminiscent of the rise of football "fanzines" in the 1980s – made possible by easy access to publishing technology – enterprising football enthusiasts are using video technology to broadcast their own take on the sporting world.
Nick Chiarelli of Future Foundation told the Financial Times that the serious tone and hackneyed phrases found in the content of traditional broadcasters and football clubs are not popular with fans.
"Football is not just about numbers and performance levels, it's funny, it's fun," he said. "You must not lose the humour, the banter and edge."
One man tackling the issue is nineteen-year-old Olajide Olatunji. He produces funny clips of himself playing Fifa, a football video game, for his Youtube channel, and currently has 2.3m subscribers and 463m views.
A more professional set-up is Copa90, created by Bigballs Films, which has 300,000 subscribers. That's more than the official channels of major clubs such as Manchester United or Chelsea.
Chief executive Tom Thirlwall said the YouTube site's average fan is a 19 year old male who doesn't get his football diet from a traditional weekly TV football highlights program.
Bigballs makes 52 hours of programming a year for Copa90, with original shows such as short documentaries on famous clubs and fans' stories. Traditional staples such goal clips and analysis by pundits are absent.
Oscar Ugaz, the former digital business manager at Spanish football club Real Madrid, observed that most clubs were focused on the big money – sponsorship deals, merchandise sales and season ticket renewals – and currently have no idea how to produce the "guerrilla content" that fans really want.
In the US, a new survey has also noted a shift towards online content: a quarter of fans there follow sports on social networking platforms.
The study for publisher Sporting News Media found that most social fans used Facebook (77%), followed by YouTube (47%) and then Twitter (33%).
Respondents said they expect connected TV to have the biggest impact on the way they consume sports in the next two years.
Data sourced from Financial Times, Broadcast Now, PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff