It seems that lovers of the English Premier League are about to discover what it’s like to be a Serie A fan in New Zealand. Ever since ESPN lost the rights to show top flight Italian football in the Pacific Rim some four or five years ago, the Australasian rights have been held by companies that broadcast in Australia but not in New Zealand. Now the same appears to have happened with the English Premier League.
Welcome to my world EPL fans!
You still don’t really know injustice though. You won’t know you are really getting screwed over until a New Zealand entity is on-sold the rights to show games here but makes a commercial decision not to do it – that’s why I won’t be mourning the loss of Premier League Pass for one moment, despite getting quite excited when they initially breezed into town.
But the real villain of the piece, in my opinion, are the people who run these leagues and sell the initial broadcast rights to companies that cannot or will not make them available to the entire market within their patches. Everyone concerned sees a country like New Zealand as small potatoes and thus they don’t care about fans here. If they did, the rights would be sold on the basis that all fans must have the opportunity to enjoy the games. It should be a basic requirement for them to be made available in ALL countries within a rights holder’s jurisdiction.
The fact that they don’t do this just proves that the powers that be in these leagues don’t give a stuff about fans – AKA their customers. They only want our money. Correction – some fans’ money. They only want your money if you happen to live in an easily exploited market.
Meanwhile, for us down here in the antipodes, they’ll take our money for replica shirts and other merchandise but they will go out of their way to not allow us to watch games legally. We literally have to break the law to do so – by their design.
And not only that, but they will also actively pursue anyone who puts short highlights on YouTube. They will ensure that any clips are removed and the accounts of those who put them there are suspended for copyright violation. And start getting used to any clips you try to watch on social media showing you nothing but a fuzzy screen and a message that says “not available in your area”.
Face it – they don’t want us.
Ironically, the biggest winners here will no doubt be the video pirates – those shady figures who the big corporates in the entertainment sector seem to hate so much. Instead of paying to legitimately watch, more and more people will turn to dodgy illegal streams with their pixelated jumping and stalling and their pop-up ads for Viagra and various other ‘enhancements’ to one’s sex life.
But maybe instead we should resolve for there to be a different winner.
Maybe we should all just take a hint – stop worshipping at the altar of teams on the other side of the world and instead get down to our local clubs. We could spend our Premier League Pass money over their bars and our merchandise money on t-shirts, scarfs and coffee mugs with proceeds going to people who actually deserve it.
I’m sure the issues with the English Premier League broadcast rights in New Zealand will be sorted out and somebody will show it here. Because it’s the EPL, they always are and they always do. But a big part of me really doesn’t care.
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.