Arsenal FC launches pay-per-view web content

Will Arsene Wenger still claim he "couldn't see the incident"?

Will Arsene Wenger still claim he "couldn't see the incident"?

Arsenal FC is adding pay-per-view match highlights to its website in a bid to tempt football fans to fork out for its online content. Gunners fans will be charged between 50p and £1.50 to view a mixture of goals, highlights and interviews at http://www.arsenal.com . Despite admitting the market for online payment is still "quite immature", the North London club is aiming to attract under-18s and fans who have so far been reluctant to sign up to its annual subscription service. Pay-per-view users will be offered the choice of using credit, debit or pre-pay cards, but will have to spend a minimum amount. Individual payments of 50p, £1 and £1.50 will only be available to Gunners fans who are also Vodafone users (of which there may be relatively few given Vodafone's close ties with Premiership rivals Manchester United), using the mobile operator's m-payment service, launched yesterday, which charges small amounts to mobile phone bills. Lorraine Brandford, Arsenal's technology manager, said: "We see the m-payment market as potentially the biggest, mobile phones have such a high penetration now." Arsenal is working with technology partner iSTRAT to extend the service to Orange, mmO2 and One2One. Paul Hague, MD of the micropayments firm, said charging small amounts to mobile phone bills was "absolutely ideal". "Once the operators start to open up their billing systems we think it will be just as popular as the credit card," Hague predicted. "Micropayments have taken a while to catch on, but this uses a mainstream facility - that's the big difference." The club launched its subscription service, Arsenal World Plus, last year, offering pre-match interviews, highlights, news and gossip for a £45 annual fee. It won't release any user numbers, but according to Brandford, the service has had "lots of interest". "Considering the difficult market conditions where people aren't used to paying on the internet, then yes, we are pleased," she told silicon.com. "Paying for our content is a strong part of the proposition, it's good quality and exclusive material." But convincing users to pay online may still take some time. According to a survey published yesterday, Europe's market for paid-for content grew by just six per cent last year. Fans will be able to catch the best of Thierry Henry, Denis Bergkamp and friends from 28 February.