Since the dawn of the Premier League era, football fans have had to stump up borderline extortionate prices to watch their team play on subscription channels.
For example, as of August 13, it would cost someone €62.25 a month to have Sky Sports and BT Sports, i.e. the two channels who have all the Premier League rights. It must also be noted this sum is factoring in a half-price sale Sky are currently having so the normal full price would be a staggering €97. When one considers this price, it is no surprise that Sky subscription numbers are down as reported by the Financial Times. The fact that streaming football matches illegally online is easier than ever has not been helping Sky’s cause either.
However, if a person wanted to watch their favourite sports and abide by the law they have had few options until now. The arrival of the Eleven Sports into the battle for broadcasting rights has transformed this situation.
Eleven are different from Sky and BT as they are a streaming service, think Netflix of sports. They already caused quite a stir when they secured rights to the US PGA Championship for the UK and Ireland, which for the first time ever was not be available on traditional TV. Instead, the first two days of golf’s fourth major was shown on Facebook for free whilst the weekend play was broadcasted on Eleven’s streaming service. Eleven Sports will also use a similar model for Serie A and La Liga games which they also have the rights to for the forthcoming season. For these games, their plan is to show one Serie A and La Liga game on Facebook every weekend.
Eleven’s thinking on using Facebook may be that they want to give potential customers a taste of their product so that they will be enticed to subscribe, but it’s a risky business plan to offer some of their content for free. However, at just €7 a month, a paltry amount compared to Sky and BT, many may be willing to get a subscription. It is not just Eleven Sports who have thrown their hat into the ring but also Amazon Prime, who are showing two full Premier League matchdays from 2019 for three years. Amazon’s interest in the Premier League will be worth keeping an eye on as they are one of the few companies who could hypothetically outbid Sky and BT for the major rights packages.
Nobody knows how all this will ultimately shake out, but one thing that is for certain is that people still want to watch sport. It is the how and where they will do this that is the multibillion-dollar question.