Channel Four and Arsenal Fan TV linkup shows how ‘online media’ is now just ‘media’

Should we still use the term YouTubers?

When YouTube influencers – and influencers on other social media platforms, too – first came onto the scene, they weren’t so much ‘broadcasters’ or ‘journalists’. The fact that they produced content for a new and very different medium meant that we had to designate them in a different way. And yet, now that live-streaming and on-demand content is now becoming very much the norm, it’s clear that there really isn’t much difference between someone who makes videos for YouTube and someone who does it for a traditional broadcaster.

Mainstream recognition no longer distinguishes between those who create for TV and those who create online. And increasingly, broadcasters no longer see themselves as TV companies, but rather media brands, whose online presences are now just part of the output.

That Arsenal Fan TV’s Robbie Lyle and some of his colleagues from their successful YouTube channel are coming to Channel 4 proves it. There is a place for fan-created media and opinion in the sports media landscape. It is the sort of content which doesn’t have access to rights or experts, but deals in honest opinion instead.

Some might react to the news as a case of YouTubers going mainstream. But maybe it’s the other way around. Perhaps what’s happening is that mainstream broadcasters like Channel 4 are taking themselves more substantially into the online world.

Before, online and broadcast media have started to become the same thing, two sides of the same coin. We don’t have online media outlets and traditional media outlets, but they’re just one and the same thing.

As a related aside, maybe we should stop thinking about the threat to “traditional broadcasters” from “online streaming” platforms: after all, Sky Sports, BT Sport and Eurosport offer apps and online platforms for streaming their content. Just because they are known as being TV channels doesn’t mean they aren’t part of the digital landscape.

Similarly, the same thing can be said about Channel 4 and Arsenal Fan TV. Merging the success of a YouTube channel with a TV show is really just a logical next step for a popular content series.

But maybe what is significant is the type of content being produced. Sky Sports have launched a nightly debate show, football podcasts have boomed in popularity, and a TV show combining football chat with fan opinion could well be a winner given the current climate.

On top of which, talk is cheap. It doesn’t require rights, nor even famous ex-players. That needn’t be a bad thing. It’s inexpensive because it doesn’t require shelling out in bidding wars or setting up multiple camera angles. It doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining – clearly it can be, and people are hooked.

This could be significant in that it could show that media companies no longer see themselves as aloof, or above the kind of content which has become so popular on the internet.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 539 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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