I purchased my “Premier League Pass” on Thursday. It wasn’t a difficult decision, and it was probably just a matter of time before I bit the bullet anyway, but what finally pushed me over the edge was this announcement from Sky, just 24 hours after the new kids on the block ‘went live’:
“SKY announced today they have confirmed deals with Premier League clubs Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur to show all of their home and away EPL matches and games in a number of other competitions on SKY Sport.”
“Take on a multinational giant, will you? Well take this…” The sad thing is this token gesture will probably serve its purpose well. It will be just the excuse some people need to carry on indulging their Stockholm syndrome by sticking with the devil they know and rewarding Sky’s arrogance by being grateful for a shadow of the football coverage they had before. Sky understands this well, as their patronising press release goes on to gloatingly state:
“When we were outbid for the live EPL rights we received letters and phone calls from customers who told us they either didn’t want to pay more to watch the Premier League or for internet data. Some said they didn’t want to watch it on a computer but really wanted it on their flat screen TV in the lounge.”
Really?? Could these be the same customers who complained for decades about how Sky consistently undervalued football fans and took them for granted?
I got the $149 basic Premier League Pass option – it gives me access to every game and given I care little for the ‘magazine shows’ anyway, it’s more than enough. The price is very reasonable when you think about it. At 39 cents per game it’s a grand total of less than I spend on CDs some weeks. If you’re like me and already watch a lot of football online because your favourite league hasn’t been on TV for yonks, you are already paying for high data caps and the technology is very familiar to you. The technical barrier to watching the internet on your flat screen TV, if you don’t have a smart TV, is a $6 cable. The fact that some would let that put them off is a little bit lame.
I have heard tell of grizzles on the forums (I can’t bear to read them myself) about the picture quality not meeting the exacting standards of some posters. Sounds to me like a marriage of convenience between Luddites searching for excuses to not venture outside their comfort zones, and techies showing off how much they know by running things down. I watched the sample videos on the website, and to my eyes there was nothing wrong with them. They are certainly a lot better than the dodgy streams I’ve had to put up with following Roma these past few years.
The latest estimate I have seen, and the Coliseum chiefs seem to agree it’s reasonably accurate, is they need 13,000 subscribers to break even. I fear they’re doomed. Football fans have a reputation in the broadcasting sector as serial complainers who seldom put their money where their mouths are. Looks as though there might be more than a bit of truth to it, sadly.
This is our one chance to break the grip of traditional television mediums that have never served us well. It has to be a success because it’s the only way we’ll break free from the tyranny of what we’ve been restricted to up until now and move into a world where the consumer really does get the choice we deserve. If it’s a success, the sky’s the limit for the depth and breadth of football we could have pumped into our living rooms in the future. If Premier League Pass doesn’t work out, it will set the inevitable progress, that make no mistake will still come someday, somehow, back a decade at least.
Why not embrace the future now?
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/