Friday 14 September 2012
The Barclays Premier League is followed by fans all over the world and there is no better example of its global appeal than Premier League TV’s flagship phone-in show 'FanZone'.
The show is part of the Premier League Content Service, which provides international licensees with 24/7 programming, including live matches, live studio analysis, news, archive and recorded programming.
Broadcasting for the past two seasons, the programme invites supporters from across the globe to talk about all things Barclays Premier League with each other, as well as with special guests in the studio such as former West Ham United manager Alan Curbishley, Chelsea assistant manager Eddie Newton and Reading manager Brian McDermott.
And the viewers have had plenty of opportunity to participate and express their opinions through texts, e-mails as well as face-to-face via internet video calling.
"It's a format where everybody is included and it seems to work brilliantly"
The opportunity to contribute this season has been broadened to include Twitter, with fans able to voice their views using the #plfanzone hashtag, match-specific hashtags or via the new Twitter handle for supporter contributions, @PLFans.
FanZone runs seven days a week during the season with two programmes on air between Monday and Friday, and one apiece on Saturday and Sunday. During the week it consists of an hour-long programme in the afternoon, as well as a 30-minute show in the evening.
The show has become a runaway success and co-presenter Leroy Rosenior says it is a superb way of engaging with supporters in other countries.
"When we started the show we were not sure how it was going to work," said Rosenior. "On that first day, we were frightened we were not going to get any calls. It was a little scary but very quickly we found that people really loved the show.
"Now we can be overrun by hundreds and hundreds of responses and there’s no way we can get them all in."
Rosenior believes that the cornerstone of the show is the enthusiasm of the callers.
"It's a format where everybody is included and it seems to work brilliantly," he said. "There’s a lovely feel to the show. The fans throughout the world, they love their team but they just love the Premier League.
“People do not come on to rant and rave about their team. They know their football, they are very concise, they are well educated in terms of the Premier League and they put their point of view across really nicely. You don’t write a script for FanZone, the supporters do.”
Over the past two seasons, FanZone has attracted an army of loyal fans as well as regular contributors who give the show a unique flavour.
"We have had Asif from Tanzania, who supports Manchester United, and he lives in the same house with his brother who is a Manchester City fan," Rosenior said. "They would get in touch at the same time and last season Asif bet a car with his brother that United would win the title and he lost it.
"The standard of calls is exceptional and they come in from everywhere"
"We have a young man from Singapore who sits next to his goldfish bowl. He is a Liverpool fan and his big fish in the bowl is 'StevieG'. Over the last year or so we have watched his goldfish grow.
"There’s an Arsenal supporter in Baghdad, she’s brilliant. She’s very succinct and knows her football inside out. And she would come on the show and speak to someone in Cyprus as well as a guest like Alan Curbishley in the studio. They are having a three-way conversation like they would be in a front room. It’s wonderful.
"The standard of the calls is exceptional and they are coming in from absolutely everywhere: New Zealand, Australia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Abu Dhabi and Egypt. The audience is almost in the studio, they just happen to be spread across 212 territories."
Rosenior, who has been involved with the show from the very start, is proud of how FanZone has taken off and is determined to see it go from strength to strength.
"I am totally enthused about the whole thing and I absolutely love the show," he said. "You just want it to grow and for people to say that was good fun, I can’t really get that anywhere else in the world. And they can’t."
Other hashtags to use for FanZone are: