Arsenal has become the first Premier League football club to launch an app aimed specifically at its youngest fans. Targeted at 4-11 year olds, it’s seeking to catch them early.
“One of the key priorities at Arsenal is its young fans, its fans of the future” stated Anne-Lise Johnsen, Arsenal’s youth product manager. “We all know that most football fans choose their team while they’re young – especially here in the UK and northern Europe – so we really want to encourage that even further through our Junior Gunners scheme.”
The app, launched this week, is part of a wider Junior Gunners initiative which has already secured over 36,500 members; the most of any Premier League Club. It’s setting its sights on the youth of the world which, looking at the map below, shouldn’t be too difficult a task.
Hookit track, measure and value sports sponsorship and activation across social and digital channels. They ranked Arsenal 4th globally in their Top Sports Team on Social Media for Forbes magazine in July, with 50.6 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, 239 million interactions (likes, shares, comments or retweets) and an earned media value of $9.2 million.
To ensure brand consistency, the new junior app’s functionality mirrors the main Arsenal app, but with a greater focus on fun and educational gaming whilst helping them develop new skills.
Users can create their own avatar from over 174 customisation options, receive up-to-date content on upcoming fixtures, squad lists and results, and play one of two games – ‘Pocket Player’ and ‘Squad Boss’.
‘Pocket Player’ is a Tamagotchi-like game where players must train, feed and rest one of three Arsenal Players — currently Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott, with obvious room to add more players. The virtual world consists of the Emirates changing room and pitch, the canteen, where users can feed their players from food actually served and a bedroom. In ‘Squad Boss,’ users manage their own six-a-side team throughout the season and compete against fellow Gooners.
The app is free on iOS and Android and has been designed to provide a safe environment for fans, with no chat functionality provided, nor in-app purchases required to progress. However, to experience all the features, users will need to be either a Junior Gunner member or a digital subscriber.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, with over 3.5 billion estimated fans watching over 250 million players in over 200 countries. The 20 most valuable soccer teams in the world are worth an average of $1.44 billion each, and eight of them are English.
A valuation by Forbes magazine in May put Arsenal at $2.02 billion (€1.82 billion), earning them the position of 5th most valuable football club in the world and the 23rd most valuable sports team, rising 13 places due to the most expensive season tickets and receiving the biggest cut of the Premier League TV money in the 2015/16 season ($148 million).
“Escalating pay-outs from television agreements, shirt and kit deals, sponsors, and the Champions League are continuing to fuel higher values for the world’s top soccer teams,” say Forbes.