Hey you! Fence-sitter!
Do you know how you’ve been hesitant to become a member of 1. FC Köln because you live somewhat far away from the stadium and don’t really see the benefit.
Well, the club has a nice new incentive for you.
FC-TV, which had been a subscription-based service to see press conferences, player interviews, match highlights, and full match “re-live” replays, has relaunched with a new look and is now mostly included as part of your club-membership benefit.
I say “mostly,” because the actual match content, due to rights reasons, still must be purchased separately.
And when I say “purchased separately,” I do mean “in addition to your membership.”
With FC-TV available to non-members, the subscriber base was able to grow to 62,000, making it the largest “club TV” base in the Bundesliga. The idea here is clearly to encourage those non-member subscribers to use that money to join the EffZeh family, as the club looks to increase membership while sailing toward sporting goals that will call for as much fiscal support as it can muster.
“Being or becoming a member of the large FC family, now is even more worthwhile,” says club business director Alexander Wehrle. “FC-TV produces a collection of videos of a quality and scale that not many clubs are able to offer. By making the videos available exclusively to our members, we are sending a clear signal as to how important and attractive membership in the FC is.”
Before I became a member myself, I had been an FC-TV subscriber and would have told anyone in my situation that it was a worthy investment. I loved having access to match replays and the post-match videos (in particular, I enjoyed Sascha Bigalke’s turn as an on-camera interviewer). It was not cheap, though. If I recall, I paid $20-plus per quarter, which was the non-discounted rate members enjoyed. The member rate was more than double than the new pricing for the match content, though, again, you must be a member to even buy it now.
At some point, I wanted to be a member and got assistance in making that happen last year. Because I also have been without FC-TV since then, I’m very excited for this development, and will probably pay the meager annual fee to have the match content available.
I highly recommend you do the same.
Of course, the larger benefits of membership are still harder to enjoy from such a distance. I assume it’s even more difficult to see a reason to join if you don’t read or comprehend German.
Yet, I can tell you that I do get a bit of a lift out of being a paying member. I didn’t need to be spending money to gain that “feeling that unites,” but it does provide a little something extra.
And don’t think I didn’t relish the opportunity to flash my membership card to show official club “fan representative” Rainer Mendel that I was, indeed, not just some guy with a passing interest the the club, rather a full-fledged member. Why else do you think I remembered to take my card with me to the Florida Cup in the first place?!
Okay, now that I’ve sold you on the benefits, I can tell you of the one enormous downside . . . ready?
The 1. FC Köln, for all it’s efforts to expand interest beyond Germany’s borders, is not yet fully equipped to make it easy for foreigners (at least those in the USA) to apply and pay for membership. Unless something has changed, the application is not available in any language other than German, but, worse, the only way to pay for membership is through a bank draw, which can be incredibly cost-prohibitive. In my case, it would have cost more than 50% of the membership dues.
I sought and found a work-around, but it required a fan in Germany to put work into it. That’s not an option that will be open to everyone, of course, and is an unnecessary hurdle for growing the club, especially as there are bound to be people who’d happily pay the dues to keep seeing FC-TV, but aren’t ready to deal with the red tape of taking the leap into membership.
That said, we are seeing things change pretty quickly in Köln. I wouldn’t be surprised if plans are already being considered to make it easier for people to pay using other methods. (PayPal would be awesome, folks . . . just sayin’!)
If you want to hear more about membership and or FC-TV, but don’t read German, feel free to reach out to me via Twitter or Facebook. I’m always happy to help other EffZeh fans with overcoming that obstacle!