• Which fan channel is the best?

Author: Matthew Finn

Fan TV has truly taken off in recent times, but which out of the three main channels is the best? Matthew Finn analyses the output of Arsenal’s ArsenalFanTV, Manchester United’s FullTime Devil’s and Liverpool’s RedMenTV to decide.

Spearheaded by the juggernaut that is ArsenalFanTV, this season has seen the profile of fan TV explode. Whilst the majority of top-flight English teams now have a fan channel, there are a trio that are easily the largest out three out there. Arsenal Fan TV dominates the new phenomenon (dominating English football again for once) with over 450,000 subscribers, with Manchester United’s FullTimeDevils lagging behind with around 350,00 subscribers themselves (finally United manage to reach the top three of English teams since Fergie left). Liverpool’s RedMenTV round off the top three with a still large total of about 160,000 subscribers (but slipping behind their two rivals if you were).

This review will analyse content from the last season to decide which fan channel is currently the best, here and now. It will take four key aspects of fan TV and give each of the three channels a mark out of five on how they fare on each component. The channel with the most points is the undisputed best YouTube fan TV, something that is definitely more of an accolade than any league title or Champions League trophy fans could dream about.

  1. Fancams

Credit: ArsenalFanTV

The bread and butter of fan TV, fancams offer regulars of the channel and random fans to have a chance to comment on their club’s performance after a game. But which fan channel offers the best fancams?

ArsenalFanTV

This season it seems like every week a new post-match rant from AFTV has gone viral. Aided by the Gunner’s perpetual woes and ongoing angst towards Arsene Wenger, AFTV are the kings of fancams. With countless videos racking up hundreds of thousands of viewers, no one comes close to AFTV’s virality. It is easy to see why.

The most viewed videos usually come from regulars Troopz or DT, as they angrily berate the team’s performance and lambast Wenger for his role in it. There is also Wenger apologist TY offering farfetched excuses for Arsenal’s failings, with the scouring eye of staunch Wenger critic Claude never too far away. Credit must be given to presenter Robbie Lyle, who asks questions that he knows will invoke a response.

Every time Arsenal lose, fans across social media cannot contain their joy for another wave of irate videos that are usually quite simply hilarious. In addition, AFTV consistently upload substantially more fancams than their two rivals. They were only ever going to get full marks in this. People may criticise the negative effect they may have on the club, but from an entertainment point of view AFTV’s fancams cannot be beaten.

AFTV fancam rating 5/5

FullTimeDevils

FTD’s fan cams offer interesting insights into the minds of United fans. However, whilst of interest to United fans , the fancams generally do not attract as many views as some of the channel’s other regular videos, and they lack the virality of AFTV (although Andy Tate is a rare exception to this).

Famous for his scathing assessment of former manager David Moyes, with phrases such as ‘Moyesy’ and ‘give it to Giggs until end of season’ spreading like wildfire, Tate’s rants were as entertaining as some of the most popular AFTV examples. Yet, Tate generally cuts a more tranquil figure these days, although he did manage a quite memorable rant after United drew yet another home against Everton recently.

Of course, you cannot judge a channel purely on rants and the fancams are informative for the club’s fans nonetheless. Presenter Adam McKola is talkative and helps the fancams run smoothly, although the channel does also get marked down for a lack of quantity of fancams uploaded, coming nowhere near to AFTV’s prolificacy.

FTD fancam rating: 3/5

RedMenTV

In a similar vein to FTD, RMTV’s fan cams offer insightful comments from Liverpool match goers but generally without the mainstream appeal of AFTV. Like the people behind the other two channels, Paul and Chris are proficient interviewers and the combination of them both adds a variety to the fan cams that AFTV and FTV do not possess.

The only fancam that has accumulated any sort of public appeal this season involved a fan criticising Liverpool FC as becoming like a tourist club. This offered an interesting insight into the state of modern day football, with a major criticism of the game in general being that the corporate side is taking over.

However, the fancams are often no longer than a minute meaning they do not offer the same depth of analysis that the other two channels do, whose videos usually total at least three minutes. Similarly to FTD, they also upload a lot less than AFTV, however like the rest of the channel they are often humorous viewing.

RTV fancam rating 3/5

2.  Guests

Credit:RedMenTV

This round will look at the range of guests each club have on their channel. This encompasses special guests appearing on one off videos as well as regular guests.

ArsenalFanTV

Hardly surprising considering AFTV’s ever-growing stature, they have featured a whole host of famous faces this season. For example, House of Commons’ Speaker and Arsenal fan John Bercow recently appeared on AFTV, a truly unique guest to appear.

In addition, Gary Lineker, David James, Sky Sport’s Jim White and entrepreneur Levi Roots have been interviewed on AFTV this year, and former Arsenal players Ray Parlour, Martin Keown and Paul Merson have also made appearances. There was additionally of course the unforgettable debate with Gary Neville.

However, despite their ability to draw in star names, AFTV fall down in this category due to a lack of a range of guests or any guests entirely on their more regular features. On match previews and videos discussing topics such as ‘5 things Wenger needs to change’ it is usually only Robbie who takes part, and it is easy to imagine that with other people involved there may be more interesting debates going on.

When guests do appear on these features, it is usually just the main cast you see on the fancams, such as Troopz, DT, and Claude. Whilst this does create a familiar feel to the channel, it would improve the channel to incorporate new views and expertise. Despite this, ultimately the star guests they have managed to get involved is hugely impressive.

AFTV guests rating 3.5/5

FTD have also attracted players past and present onto the channel, such as Fellaini, Lingard, Wes Brown and Rio Ferdinand, and even an interview with manager Mourinho. In addition, a number of celebrities have also appeared, such as Countdown presenter and United fan Rachel Riley and Soccer AM presenter Laura Woods. FTD haven’t quite drawn in the same amount of star guests as AFTV this season however.

Yet, it is the guests FTD have on their more regular content that sets the channel apart. United Youth historian and author Tony Park is on almost every Youth Profile video, offering a unique insight into the club that fans would never usually hear. In addition, unlike the other two main channels, FTD regularly invites a number of football experts onto their videos.

These include writers from Squawka and Bleacher Report, as well as others from the world of football/the media, and these guests succeed providing the channel with a high level of footballing expertise and professionalism (not to say regulars on the other two channels do not have a good knowledge of football or are not professional however). These are almost all United fans. It could be argued that they deter away from airing opinions from regular United supporters, who only rarely feature outside of fancams. However, judging the channel purely on the quality of their guests, FTD are hard to criticise here.

FTD guests rating 4/5

RedMenTV

RMTV have also managed to attract their club’s players past and present onto their channel. The most notable example was where the two main presenters took on Liverpool players Origi, Gomez and Karius at FIFA. This provided a rare insight into the personalities of these players away from the usual media trained, lifeless interviews you usually see with footballers.

In addition, former Liverpool heroes like the man, the myth, the legend that is Emile Heskey, Champions League final hero Jerzey Dudek, Richie Partridge and others have also appeared on the channel this season. There was also as a matchday build up video including former stars such as Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler, Harry Kewell and John Aldridge

Guest fans and fans from other Liverpool fan forums such as Anfield HQ do appear regularly on match build ups and previews, as well on features such as the FIFA 17 predictor. However, general celebrity guests are virtually non-existent .Although the channel is dominated by founders Mark and Chris, other fans do regularly appear to give the channel a familiar feel.

RMTV guests rating 3.5/5

3) Interaction with fans

The lifeblood of fan channels, the interaction with fans is what fan TV is all about. Outside of fancams, which channel most successfully interacts with supporters?

ArsenalFanTV

AFTV could improve in this category. As stated, not only are fans outside of the main cast rarely seen on previews and reviews, but on any other of the features of the channel. There is also little interaction in these videos for supporters over social media either, something the other two fan TV’s integrate into their shows strongly (as I will discuss).

That said, their AFTV extra show is the exception to this, whereby fans can either appear on the show or call in and have their say. This is a great example of how the channel does connect with members of the club’s fanbase, however this is almost the sole example of this.

The Arsenal viral show did include some online fan reaction, but this series has not been uploaded in 2017. There was the Gooner box series which featured fans reaction as they watched a game, but this has only been uploaded twice in the entire season. However, the fact that the main cast is comprised of people that are simply fans on the street gives the channel a distinct level of authenticity. Yet despite this, it does not appear that regular followers outside of this get much say on the channel unless they are at the ground after a game.

AFTV fan interaction rating 3.5/5

FullTimeDevils

The Manchester United fan channel generally succeeds in interacting with fans. In live build up to games, the presenters often read out comments from supporters posted on Facebook or Twitter, something that is also a feature of their live previews. In addition, on every single Match Review fans from anywhere can send in their three word reviews of the game.

As stated, there has been live watchalongs of the games with fans this season that are however rarely uploaded. United’s YouTube Comments, a series based around comments left by supporters was also a good example of fan interaction, but again is never uploaded. As discussed, fans also appear on previews to take part in discussions, but many of these either work in the media or are football experts and this does arguably take away some of the channel’s authenticity, even though they are still United fans.

Overall FTD successfully interacts with fans, although physically having supporters from the street on some of their content would improve this further.

FTD fan interaction 4/5

RedMenTV

RMTV are hugely successful in incorporating fans onto their channel. They have a special feature called LFC fan reactions, whereby post-match reaction fans on social media is read out by the channels presenters. This allows supporters from anywhere to have their say.

There is also the LFC Extra Time Show, which makes fan reaction a large part of the show as a presenter again usually interacts with supporters on social media. The Stat Show also features a section where the presenters answer questions from supporters on social media (although this series is usually only available to paid subscribers).Yet, having three shows heavily dedicated to fan interaction boosts RMTV’s score significantly.

In addition, there are sometimes opportunities for fans to interact via social media with the channel on match reaction, build up and player rating shows. Supporters are also physically invited to be part of these shows and sit with the presenters. There have also been one off videos which have been fan orientated, such as a Delhi Liverpool Supporters Club matchday experience. Although RMTV could include fans on more of the channel’s main features, the channel is heavily supporter orientated, and like AFTV has a regular cast of fans from the street.

RMTV fan interaction 4.5/5

4) Quality of content

Credit:FullTimeDevils

The deciding round and arguably the most important one, as overall quality of output from the channels is judged.

ArsenalFanTV

Some of AFTV’s one off videos deserve a lot of praise, such as the music video in collaboration with rapper Harry Shotta. The recent skit where regular DT becomes Arsenal manager was also highly humorous, and these kind of features add a lighthearted feel to the channel. The huge debate with former United player Gary Neville, was also an exciting video.

However, the quality of the more regular content on the channel lets AFTV down. As stated, the match previews and reviews usually just feature Robbie, and are essentially just him talking into the camera with little direction as to what he is saying. Incorporating other fans more regularly and with different kinds of guests would improve these videos. Simple things like graphics of the predicted line up for the game would also enhance them significantly.

There are also a lack of regular series’. Whilst the Road Trip series is a nice insight into some of the regulars on the channel, it doesn’t offer much about from a very brief extra preview of the games. Arsenal viral, where journalist and Arsenal fan Beth Krysta-Wilson takes a look at social media reaction and build up to games was an interesting feature, but is never uploaded anymore. AFTV Extra Review is also engaging, yet could again benefit from the same things as the reviews and previews on the channel.

Overall, the quality of AFTV’s one off videos are significant, but there needs to be more regular series and the channel’s staple content could be presented more professionally.

AFTV quality of content 3/5

FullTimeDevils

The Manchester United fan TV offers top quality regular features. The Youth Profile with United Youth historian and author Tony Parks really give United fans the chance to know the club inside and out. The Bushcam series (yes, you read that right) is also highly entertaining. This features presenters commentating over footage of United players training, as if they were in a bush watching them. Whilst the concept sounds very strange to say the least, the presenters humorous commentary make it one of the favourite features on the channel, judging by the comments.

However, it is the staple content of fan channels where FTD really stand out. Their previews, reviews and debates are much more engaging than either of the other two channels. The simple addition of graphics makes them a lot more professional. The use of a fixed number of topics also makes the videos substantially more absorbing, as they then do not simply become the presenters or guests speaking aimlessly.

As stated, FTD’s regular content also usually features expertise from within the footballing world, which naturally adds a high quality of analysis. Regular Statman Dave is a great example of this, as his extensive knowledge of football stats, tactics and more again adds to the professionalism of the channel.

FTD’s one off content is also of a high standard. The Andy Tate 50 Shades of Grey skit provided more light heartedness to the channel, with Tate’s most famous quotes mixed into the film’s trailer. In addition, various different videos focusing on tactics United should employ before a game also added to the insightfulness of FTD, and a video whereby fans on the street had to guess whether quotes read out were from Sir Alex or Mourinho was also highly entertaining.

Overall, the quality of content on FTD is exceedingly good.

FTD quality of content 4.5/5

RedMenTV

RMTV’s content is also of a high quality. A notable example is the series dedicated to the two main Paul and Chris attempting to rectify the 01/02 Liverpool season on Championship Manager, whereby in real life Liverpool (of course) failed to win the Premier League. They hilariously bring the computer game to real life, with acted out sketches from them as if they were actually managers, featuring standard football locations such as the manager’s room, the player’s dressing room and the training ground. It even contains a memorable cameo from Emile Heskey being interviewed in front of a naked player (?!).

Some of the other running series’ are also of extreme quality, such as The Story of The Match series. This documents each Liverpool game through a compilation of video content from outside the ground and the reaction of the crowd within the stadium. The series succeeds in providing an intimate look into a fans match day experience that you just do not get on television.

However, the Liverpool FC fan channel falls down in its lack of professionalism in its staple content. Just in the same way as AFTV, most of the match previews and reviews as well as the debates simply consist of one or two of the channel’s presenters talking into the screen or with each other. The starting XI show does however feature a Subbuteo pitch to demonstrate the line up, however the use of animation would make this look less amateurish. The Stat Show does however animation to accompany the discussion, yet as stated this series is usually only available to paid subscribers. They have brought this in for certain one off videos, but it could be used more regularly.

The quality of RMTV’s one off videos is also good nonetheless. The extremely informative video explaining Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s famous gegenpressing tactics is a notable example. The video at Liverpool’s end of season awards ceremony again created an intimate feel with the club, and the Xmas special video, whereby members of the RMTV team had to take part in a number of challenges to ensure they were not the least liked member, was hilarious.

Overall, the quality of content of RMTV’s videos is generally high and filled to the brim with humour, but there is definitely room for improvement.

RMTV quality of content rating 4/5

Overall winners

*Drumroll* And the winners are…(if you haven’t counted yourself)…FullTimeDevils!

1st) FTD overall points: 15.5

2nd =) RMTV overall points: 15

2nd =) AFTV overall points: 15

In an extremely tight battle, the Manchester United fan channel just edge the clash of the titans of fan TV!