SINGAPORE (AP) – Arsenal is considering ways to profit from its massive online following, which is surging in Asia.
The club is planning apps for iPad, android tablets and smart phones to go along with its current iPhone app, which has 95,000 users who paid 2.99 British pounds ($4.85), Rupert Daniels, Arsenal's head of global partnerships, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday.
''The big challenge for us is how do we monetize, how do we give fans something that they think is good value for money so they won't think they're being ripped off by Arsenal,'' Daniels said. ''It's very important to us because we have to keep generating revenue so that we can continue to compete at the highest level.''
Arsenal is one of the most popular teams in the world, and finished in the top four of the English Premier League for the last 14 seasons.
However, this season hasn't started so well, as Arsenal received its worst loss since 1896 in an 8-2 thrashing last Sunday from Manchester United, prompting the signing of four new players.
Indonesia has the largest percentage of Arsenal's 7.5 million Facebook friends, and Malaysia's 400,000 friends account for 1.5 percent of the country's 27 million population, Daniels said.
The team toured Malaysia and China this summer, playing before 65,000 fans in Kuala Lumpur.
''The players were blown away by the support and by the fanaticism,'' Daniels said. ''Our Asian audience is extremely important to us.''
Arsenal is looking for partners in Asia to develop local language content for the team's apps and websites, he said. Arsenal has one Facebook site based in England, but it has recently experimented with content in languages other than English, such as Malay for Malaysia fans.
''We're certainly looking at opportunities to make sure that whatever content we can make is very much tailored to that particular market, such as Indonesia or China,'' Daniels said.
Developing close contact with so many fans - Arsenal has 865,000 Twitter followers - gives them a platform to celebrate their love for their team, but also to slam players and managers when the club loses.
''Social media does break down barriers between the club and its fans so in good times, that's good, but you have to be realistic,'' Daniels said. ''If you get a heavy defeat, even if some of the criticism comes through, we have to be bold and take that on the chin.''