As more people, every day, are using social media by checking their Twitter or Facebook feed for news rather than reading a newspaper or watching the 6 o’clock news. We are now witnessing live sport, such as American sport and even pre-season football friendlies, being moved over to social media to attract a younger audience. Last season, more people are illegally streaming live sport, with the use of a KODI box, and also over the last few years, there has been an increase in online streaming. Is this a concern for clubs or do institutions need to rethink their plans for the next tv rights deal?
Sky Sports are introducing new dedicated channels for customers from Tuesday where you can choose what sport you want to watch. There will be two dedicated football channels in Sky Sport Premier League and Sky Sports Football and there will be dedicated golf, Formula 1, and cricket channels where customers will pay a monthly fee to activate these channels. For more information, head to their website: www.skysports.com/relaunch. BskyB (British Sky Broadcasting) are recognising that customers are unhappy with paying a considerable monthly fee for sport they do not really want to watch. Speaking to Sky Sports Customers, most of them have said that they only pay the monthly fee for the Premier League and a few matches from Spain or the EFL (English Football League). A Sky Sports package will cost you £49.50, however that might be subject to change on Tuesday.
We are seeing many sporting events being shown live by streaming. You can watch every NFL game on an NFL game pass (providing there is no TV blackout), and you can see almost every ATP tennis match online. Sometime within 5-10 years, it is possible that the UK would be able to have access to every Premier League match including the 3pm games, without a Sky or BT subscription. It will be likely, if this does go ahead, that there will be a monthly subscription, but not to the extent of the excessive monthly fees that UK Premier League customers are paying.
Socially, we are an on-demand generation where we watch what we want and when we want to watch it, and not being told to watch it. Hence the massive increase in the use of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV. We have seen these organisations invest in sports documentaries, such as the NFL’s All or Nothing on Amazon Prime, and Netflix’s Last Chance U and Icarus. They are interested in sports, especially American sports, but it will be interesting if they dip into the Premier League or Football market. Amazon Prime are, for sure, interested in sports as they are after ATP Tennis rights as they have also picked up 10 Thursday Night NFL games a season from 2017.
Will this mean the death of free-to-air television? Not yet. The BBC have continued their coverage of the Wimbledon Championships until at least 2024 and the FA Cup until 2021. The Beeb have also won rights for free-to-air coverage of two England t20 matches and also ten matches for the new t20 competition from 2020. However, they have lost rights to live coverage of The Open Golf, and could lose all rights to the Olympics which will be in the hands of the Discovery Network. There are broadcasting laws that do protect some important sporting events across the world.
Social media is becoming a crucial part of our daily lives and as we become busier and busier, can we afford to spend a couple of hours watching a live match? Many predict that people will only want to watch highlights, and maybe only just watch the goals. When the match has finished, I go onto Facebook to see the various reactions from different sources, some posts are created for humour or as for breaking news. These posts are released during the game, which shows that football fans don’t put their full concentration into the game anymore, especially if it’s a dull 0-0. If you heard about a ‘wondergoal’, it would be very easy to see that goal on Facebook or Twitter without having to pay to watch the video. Will we see in 10-20 years where there will be no live matches on television? It is quite possible.
Unfortunately, nobody in the UK is legally allowed to watch 3pm games on television because of the broadcast blackout as the Football League are worried that attendances for their clubs’ matches will decline. This is one of the reasons why illegal streaming has rapidly increased, because you will find a stream of a Premier League match with English Commentary. This has been regularly discussed for many years and Virgin Media bosses have said that they should abolish the 3pm blackout. This does not just influence English football, big games across Europe has fallen foul of the 3pm blackout, such as El Clásico and El Derbi Madrileño. Countries, including the US, can show every Premier League game, whereas we legally cannot. Some of the most entertaining games last season kicked off at 3pm, and we have to wait until Match of the Day to watch the highlights.
The problem that every TV company is facing, is that the rights for live sports are becoming more expensive. And as prices are increasing for customers as they look to find cheaper options to watch sports, it is getting tougher for customers and companies to get the best deal. This paves a road for streaming companies and social media to enter the market and will be good competition for Sky and BT.