In August 2022, Ofcom produced a report which concluded that viewers aged between 16 and 24 were watching traditional broadcast TV for an average of just 53 minutes per day with many younger consumers recently turning to online streaming platforms to get their televisual fix.
This trend is showing very few signs of slowing down and although in the UK, many iconic sporting events such as Wimbledon and the Olympics are still shown on terrestrial television, many streaming platforms such as Amazon and DAZN have significantly added to their sporting portfolio over the last five years. Although Netflix have yet to enter this market, they have produced a number of sporting documentaries as well as releasing plans to host its first-ever live streamed show, giving them scope to potentially acquire the rights to live sporting events going forward. Furthermore, many of the best betting sites including 10Bet and Bet Victor also offer coverage of selected live sports, including NBA and ATP events.
Amazon Prime entered the UK market back in 2019 and were handed the exclusive rights to show 20 Premier League games for the first time, however, this package only includes two match-days per season with the remainder of the rights divided between Sky Sports and BT Sport. Although this was viewed as a significant step forward, the archaic nature of the deal potentially leaves UK viewers at a disadvantage. For starters, only selected games are available to viewers, with many rearranged fixtures, including a recent meeting between rivals Leeds and Manchester United, not being shown anywhere within the UK. With estimated costs of around £50 per month, football fans are only granted access to approximately 30-45% of the weekend’s games.
DAZN have confirmed their intentions to enter the fray ahead of the upcoming bidding process whereas Amazon Prime may opt to extend or improve their current arrangements. Nevertheless, it’s the finer details of the deal which should be up for discussion.
Although Major League Soccer isn’t as universally popular as the English top flight, the forward-thinking operation has recently signed an exclusive ten-year deal with Apple to ensure that soccer fans can enjoy EVERY single match throughout the course of the season, plus replays, features and analysis for each franchise. This D2C (direct to consumer) model has been successful in the NFL with the NFL+ streaming platform having proven popular with American Football fans. With the weekend fixtures spread across several different TV channels including Paramount, NBC and Fox, some fans were unable to follow key games whereas it may have been financially unviable for others. As a result, this one-stop shop for NFL action is a much simpler, and cheaper, way of ensuring that every touchdown is covered. The NBA League Pass App takes a similar approach and has significantly improved the viewing experience.
La Liga TV is an example of a football streaming service which currently offers viewers the chance to follow every single match throughout the course of the season. Admittedly, the Spanish top flight’s schedule, which rarely involves matches kicking off simultaneously, is far more suited to this arrangement, however, the Premier League could easily emulate this model.
Concerns about a significant drop in attendance have been cited as a potential reason for the lack of progress in this sphere, however, the sheer popularity of the competition should help to assuage any of these worries. Sadly, the current TV deal is obscenely lucrative and one single streaming platform is unlikely to be able to compete with the current fees paid by BT and Sky Sports. However, English fans are being significantly short-changed and the latest developments across the Atlantic further highlight the ongoing frustration of UK-based supporters who can no longer afford to watch their favourite teams.
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