A Mixed Reception For English Football Streams

A Mixed Reception For English Football Streams
With the 2020/21 edition of the English football season looming large, a question regarding the streaming of live matches has become somewhat pertinent and with different signals coming from both the Premier League and the EFL, the current reception from fans has been mixed. As far as the EFL is concerned, it is a good news story for supporters of the 24 Championship outfits who are looking to earn a ticket to the promised land of the division above and for a fee of £10 per game, any non-live Sky fixture will be made available for streaming.

The announcement does not stop at individual match purchases either and for anyone who has continued to show the most loyal of support – an act that comes with the purchase of a season ticket, midweek away matches will also be available as part of the agreed framework.

This means that season ticket holders will gain the ability for extra coverage and not just the usual 23 home fixtures (that is before Sky select their matches for live screening) that a purchase of this kind permits - something that will be a welcome benefit to supporters up and down the country.

While although the provision does not quite extend to season ticket holders being able to watch their Championship side away from home on weekends, it will at least go someway to filling the huge void that is currently in place.

In addition to this, it is also good news for anyone who lends their weekly faith to the clubs that operate in League One and Two, as in a similar setup to the Championship, the £10 price point is in place for non-televised fixtures and season ticket holders can access all 23 home matches.

Which means if there is reason to be cheerful within tiers two to four of the English game, the picture is still somewhat scrambled as far as the Premier League is concerned and although a movement is seemingly formulating among supporters, the impasse is yet to be broken.

At the time of writing and it must be said, with time running out before the first ball is kicked on Saturday September 12th, the prospect of season ticket holders being able to watch non-televised fixtures is yet to materialise.

A scenario which is undoubtedly frustrating for everyone involved and with the UK Government doing their best to ease the logjam, the hope is that the broadcasters will bend and eventually offer more via an additional paywall.

Supporters in the Premier League camp will point at the EFL’s recent announcement and decry why something cannot be arranged at the pinnacle of the English game and with television money being all the more prevalent, extra revenue would surely be received in the current climate.

Especially as the league themselves have had to cut the cord on their sizeable Chinese television deal and when you consider just how big a part that played in the overall international revenue, the last thing the 20 top flight outfits need is another gap in their finances.

With a rights payment of £160m being withheld by digital broadcaster PPTV, the Premier League were left with very little option but to switch off the signal and although it is not a decision that would have been made lightly, protecting the value of their rights will always come first.

While although the loss of such a substantial deal – one that would have been worth a total of £564m between 2019 and 2022 will no doubt smart, there could be a logical and immediate solution to the plugging of this financial hole.

If Sky, BT Sport and Amazon offered the ability for streams to be sold on an individual basis – while also allowing Premier League season ticket holders a similar level of EFL granted access, it would be a licence to print money.

Which begs the question, why the apprehension from the media giants? The answer is one that could see the genie let out of the bottle. Once viewing habits develop further, the clamour for digital season tickets would only grow further and it could eventually cut out the middleman.

A middleman that beams weekly coverage of one of the world’s greatest leagues to scores of homes up and down the UK and the last thing they would want to see if subscriptions dwindle in such a cutthroat media landscape.

Therefore, we are seemingly caught between a footballing rock and a hard place and with the amount of money that is poured into the Premier League via domestic rights fees, the decision to open up streams for all, is one that could prove costly further down the line.


Written by Dan Tracey

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