Friday, August 17, 2012

English Premiere League teams are separated by more than their payroll when it comes to the App Store

The football season starts tomorrow. No, not the NFL. I'm talking about the English Premiere League (EPL). And while I have, in the past, talked about the new mobile and tablet apps released in support of sports teams – I think the first post was about the Boston Herald's baseball app – I've never ventured too far, only talking about U.S. sports teams and the newspapers that cover them.

But the EPL is the big time, if you are a soccer fan, and if you are in the business of professional sports teams. Teams like Manchester United are among the most successful sports franchises in the world. (Actually, Forbes ranked them at number one this year.)

Today, Arsenal, the London based club that plays at Emirates Stadium, released an iPad app for its sports program, Arsenal Official Matchday Programme.

The app brings Arsenal fans the team's magazine just in time for tomorrow's first game against Sunderland (there are 20 teams in the EPL). The app places the team program in the Apple Newsstand for automatic downloads, assuming one subscribes.

Because Arsenal is one of the EPL's storied teams, the team probably feels it doesn't have to give away anything. Because of this, the team is charging fans £3.99 per month, or £39.99 for the year (the season goes until mid-May).

The app description mentions that the first edition will be free and will be available this evening, so right now the app is only a shell.

Arsenal is a pretty powerful team in the EPL, so I wondered what other teams are moving towards bringing their team promotional magazines or programs to the Apple App Store.

Surprisingly, while there were plenty of developers trying to capitalize on the fame of Manchester United, I did not see any official apps from the team. Their crosstown rivals, Manchester City, which won the EPL title last year, is missing, as well.

Liverpool FC has a universal app, however, called Liverpool FC Match & News Centre, though it was last updated in February.

Many other teams seem to have outsourced their apps to vendors. Perform Group, for instance, a digital media company specializing in sports, has 17 iPhone apps in the App Store, many of them for EPL teams (as well as others). Sunderland, the team that will be playing Arsenal tomorrow, has an iPhone app that will cost you $4.99.

Fulham, the club that American Clint Dempsey plays for, has its team program in the App Store. The app, Fulham FC Programme, is one of four listed under the seller ProgrammeMaster Ltd. The link provided by the seller takes you to PocketMags, which is the name used by But the site seems to be dead. In any case, you know what you will get, a replica edition of the program for both the iPhone and iPad.

Unlike the NFL and other U.S. sports leagues, the EPL depends on its TV partners for bringing live streaming to fans. Fox Sports, for instance, has an online ad iPad app services. The app, FOX Soccer 2Go for iPad, requires a Fox Soccer subscription, currently at $159.99 for the season.