Premier League giants Arsenal are now much more than just a football club – Image via Pexels
The football industry has undergone a seismic transformation over the past few decades, helping many elite clubs become massive global brands in their own right.
This is undoubtedly the case where the Premier League is concerned, particularly when it comes to big-hitters such as Arsenal.
The Gunners are not only one of the best supported-teams in the English top-flight, but they also boast a sizeable fanbase based in numerous countries overseas.
One of the biggest changes in football is how the top clubs now transcend sporting boundaries by placing greater importance on their interactions with other sectors.
While football primarily remains a results driven business, it has also increasingly become about entertainment and social engagement.
With that in mind, we take a closer look at some of the ways Arsenal have impacted the entertainment sector, starting with a link-up with a global behemoth.
All or Nothing: Arsenal
Despite being one of the most dramatic sports in the world, it would be fair to say that football has not enjoyed much success on the big screen.
The number of truly successful football films can be counted on the fingers of one hand – a comment that cannot be levelled at many other popular mainstream genres.
For instance, there have been numerous hit gambling films, with the movie “Casino” directed by Martin Scorsese undoubtedly one of the most notable examples.
However, football has worked extremely well when aired in the sports documentary format popularised by Amazon Prime Video’s hit All or Nothing series.
Originally launched with a focus on American Football, the docuseries has since branched out to feature clubs in several other sports.
Manchester City were the first club to be featured, with Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus and Arsenal have subsequently following in their footsteps.
All or Nothing followed the Gunners through the 2021/22 season – a campaign where manager Mikel Arteta was laying the foundations for the team to re-emerge as a force.
The series is aimed at younger audiences, which is undoubtedly designed to tap into a demographic that is key to the club’s future success.
The behind-the-scenes element of the show gives fans an insight into the inner workings of the club, making them feel part of a wider family.
With rumours of a second season continuing to swirl, Arsenal clearly believe they have struck on a winning formula by branching out into entertainment.
Another entertainment sector where Arsenal have cashed in is video gaming, albeit as part of a wider licensing agreement negotiated at Premier League level.
Developed by EA Sports, the iconic FIFA series has blown away the competition to become the number one video game in the sport.
EA’s deal with the Premier League is unique, with the clubs collectively selling their video game licensing rights with most intellectual property included.
This gave FIFA the authenticity that many rival games struggled to match, effectively giving EA a monopoly in this particular sector.
Gaming licenses have helped Arsenal increase global engagement – Image via YouTube
From Arsenal’s perspective, the link-up with EA has given their fans the opportunity to take control of their favourite team in the video game arena.
The FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) mode allows them to effectively become the club’s manager and compete online against other virtual teams.
Many players only play the game in this way, which essentially increases their level of engagement with Arsenal from a branding perspective.
EA’s decision to sever ties with FIFA will likely benefit Premier League clubs in the long-run, opening the door for other avenues to be explored.
Building a more vibrant eSports infrastructure for the game is one of EA’s primary aims and could generate sizeable future revenues for Arsenal and the rest of the Premier League.
The Gunners have already dipped their toes in the eSports world and will likely ramp up their efforts to aid their crossovers into other entertainment genres.
Arsenal have moved to cash in on the popularity of fantasy football games by agreeing a long-term partnership with Web3 gaming company Unagi.
Ultimate Champions is a free-to-play game that gives players the opportunity to build the best possible team and earn rewards based on how the players perform in real life.
Its unique scoring system makes every position on the pitch equally valuable – a factor that many other fantasy games struggle to replicate.
The game allows you to pick players from anywhere in the world, thus making this a truly global challenge in every sense of the word.
The game gives players the opportunity to win or purchase digital player card non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which can be collected or sold afterwards.
Success in the game allows players to earn more digital cards, which can be kept or traded with other Ultimate Champions players.
The concept is designed to deliver the global fan engagement Arsenal ae targeting by tapping into the popularity of an associated entertainment activity.
Arsenal were the first Premier League club to join Unagi’s Ultimate Champions, which aims to become the go-to fantasy football game globally over the next few years.
Embracing the thirst among football fans for these type of games further highlights Arsenal’s willingness to explore the possibilities within the entertainment sector.
The Final Word
The football industry has become far more willing to forge partnerships with other sectors than was previously the case.
The global nature of the Premier League allows clubs such as Arsenal to exploit other markets like never before, and they have done that with aplomb.
As one of the top-ranking global brands on social media in world sport, the Gunners must find ways to keep their huge army of followers engaged.
Sports docuseries, gaming licenses and fantasy football games will probably be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Arsenal’s impact on the entertainment sector in the future.