Story and graphic by Francisco Valladares Athletics Editor
After a surprising 2-1 loss against Brighton and Hove Albion, Arsenal fans gathered around a man with a mic outside of Falmer Stadium.
Robbie Lyle, the creator of Arsenal Fan TV on YouTube, waited for passionate fans to come and speak their minds. A slew of Arsenal fans crowded around him, and the show began.
After each match, Lyle interviews fans that fire off hot take after hot take, where they either celebrate or rant about their team’s successes or shortcomings. This formula has created notable figures on the internet, headlined by characters like “Troopz,” “DT,” “Claude” and “Ty.”
While most fan hot takes hold no significance on Twitter or YouTube, that isn’t the case for Arsenal Fan TV.
When some of the usual voices speak, the world listens. Casual and devoted fans alike log on to YouTube to see what these talking heads have to say.
The channel has grown immensely since its launch in 2012. In only six years, they’ve managed to gain 721,384 subscribers and are projected to have over 683 million total channel views by the end of 2018, according to Social Blade. Needless to say, the channel will only continue to grow for the foreseeable future.
Above anything else, Arsenal Fan TV has given fans a voice and a platform to speak their minds.
Nonetheless, many English Premier League watchers question whether Arsenal Fan TV is good for the sport. They’ve been heavily criticized by fellow fans, pundits and even Arsenal players themselves.
“It does sometimes pop up on your timeline,” Hector Bellerin, a defender at Arsenal, per the Daily Star. “I see it sometimes, some friends say, ‘Oh have you heard what that guy on Arsenal Fan TV said?’ It’s so wrong for someone who claims to be a fan and their success is fed off a failure. How can that be a fan?”
The left-back isn’t completely wrong in his assertions. While the channel does not solely depend on Arsenal’s bad performances to succeed, they do gain a lot from them.
A look at Arsenal Fan TV’s 50 most viewed videos renders only one positive video: a five-minute clip of DT recapping Arsenal’s 2-1 over Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final.
Besides a couple miscellaneous videos scattered around the top 50, the bulk of their top content comes from Arsenal’s failures.
Nonetheless, the channel is only a reflection of the club, which is why there is such a large collection of negative videos and while Arsenal Fan TV does owe some success to Arsenal’s bad performances, the positive impact they’ve had on fans shouldn’t be overlooked.
Whereas pundits stick to their usual professional analysis of the team, fan reactions allow for raw emotion, which resonates with fellow viewers and followers.
Above anything else, Arsenal Fan TV has given fans a voice and a platform to speak their minds. While it is in no way professional like Sky Sports or BBC, it does give viewers a more realistic look at how fans feel about the club.
"I've got nothing against traditional punditry,” said Lyle in an interview with GQ magazine. “But nobody gave a voice to the fans. What about the fans who go? They are also a very important part of football...their opinions are now being heard loud and clear."
Whereas pundits stick to their usual professional analysis of the team, fan reactions allow for raw emotion, which resonates with fellow viewers and followers. And yes, the channel has its fair share of critics because of this, but it has also amassed quite a large and seemingly committed following nonetheless.
Arsenal Fan TV is not just a hub for constant hot takes; it’s a place for fans to congregate and speak their minds to a world that otherwise wouldn’t hear them. The channel may have its faults, but it also provides necessary content with a different perspective in the sports world: content made by fans, for fans.
It still remains to see if the channel can continue to thrive without Arsenal’s bad results, but with the community they’ve built and the characters they’ve managed to bring into the spotlight, Arsenal Fan TV should continue to have a prominent voice on the internet despite all the noise around them.