Thursday, May 18, 2017

It’s also time to update the football viewer experience

I wrote a while back (and thanks for all the interesting feedback) about the need to modernise the in stadium football fan experience.

There also the need to update the experience of the viewer at home.

A few weeks ago at the Telegraph Business of Sport Conference the ever-interesting former Crystal Palace supremo Simon Jordan was absolutely spot on in the comments he made about how every single Premier League football game should be televised live, comparing the sport to other facets of the entertainment industry:

"I think that every game around the world can be live.
Football eats itself sometimes. We're talking about £8bn in [global] TV revenues, right?
Well, the X-Men movie franchise is £10bn, so let's get context about how big this business really is against how big it really could be."

I’m a lifelong Liverpool fan.  I came to the UK to watch them play, but yet I can’t watch every single game – despite the fact that I’m happy to pay to do so.

No service to enable me to exists.

The rights regime around the game is really dated, preventing games being televised at 3pm on a Saturday, nominally to ensure attendances are not impacted for games on at the same time.

Despite the fact that I live 5 minutes from the ground of my local non-league team I’m not going to pay to watch them play at 3pm on a Saturday (or indeed ever) as I don’t follow them.  In fact I generally only watch Liverpool games.

A regime predicated on people living in one area only supporting their local side when the population is so upwardly mobile feels stuck in the 1950s – so, like others, I’m forced to find a pub with an international feed to watch my team play.

Being able to watch my team play if I’m on holiday in another country but not in the one where the game is played is bizarre, especially when technology exists that would enable me to buy a subscription service from a broadcaster or even the club direct.

I can watch goals just after they go in via the Sky Sports Football Score Centre app and cast them to my big screen but I can’t pay to watch the game live, which is ridiculous and needs resolving with a rule change as part of the next rights auction.

It’s really not surprising that 5 million UK adults use illegal streaming services or apps – many of them to access football – when the demand is there but the supply isn’t being met, and football as an industry needs to learn the lesson of the music industry on how to credibly tackle piracy and monetise the demand.

For many years the recording industry attributed blame to ISPs, file sharing services and individuals they’d targeted via PR, regulatory & governmental pressure and lawsuits – but it wasn’t until streaming services like Spotify became mainstream that consumers moved away from piracy en masse.

All due to consumer demand being met by a great subscription based streamed service which consumers are happy to pay for.

Along with updating the rights regime, the Premier League needs to take televising the sport to the next level with the development of a centralised platform from which all games can be streamed globally – and to make it available as both a direct subscription (including apps for smartphones, tablets and Smart TVs) plus whitelist it to club and other websites to enable innovative bundling of digital and other services.

This can then be available in several different languages and include all kinds of other interesting content alongside it, plus offer the end consumer a choice of commentators, camera angles and plenty of other innovations.

I’d happily pay a tenner a month for that.

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