According to a recent report on streaming numbers in the UK, Liverpool is the most streamed football club in the entire Premier League.
Despite almost every Liverpool game being shown live on television networks around the world, there are many reasons why some fans can’t tune in. It could be that there’s no coverage in the particular country in which they live, or it could be that they can’t afford a subscription to a channel that’s licensed to broadcast the match. Bookmakers can offer access to some competitions to those who place wagers via their websites and apps, and then there’s the big gun Amazon which has paid millions to show Premier League games to its Prime customers.
On a Saturday, if the Reds have a 3 pm kick-off, only fans outside the UK can watch the games live on television due to the live broadcast black-out of the top-flight game, which has been in place since the 1960s. Burnley chairman Bob Lord campaigned and succeeded in ensuring games from England’s top division were not shown live on Saturday afternoons at 3 pm because this would affect attendance at lower league games. That, of course, was the right decision at the time, but today many fans in England are left wondering why they can’t watch their team live on television or their devices on a Saturday afternoon when a fellow fan overseas can. Subsequently, supporters head to social media to hunt down possible streams.
Current UK sports streaming trends show that the Reds are the most sought-after team to stream online and have been for the last five years! Despite the extreme wealth of their rivals Manchester City and the huge following Manchester United has around the world, it’s Liverpool that most people want to stream live.
Former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan can often be heard on talkSPORT calling for a Netflix-style streaming service to be introduced by the Premier League that could be made available for fans all over the world for a reasonable fee of, say, £ 10 a month. This would cut out broadcasters like BT and Sky and would undoubtedly see the illegal streaming industry collapse significantly. Piracy will always exist, but many fans would willingly pay for a licensed and official streaming service, especially knowing that the money would go into the game.
Jordan commented earlier this year: “If you build your own platform, like the ‘Netflix of football’ idea that I’ve mooted for some time, charge 100 million people around the world who would readily subscribe to it £9.99-a-month, which is no great shake in terms of cost, you’d be generating £10-12billion a year.”
Jordan is right, but the Premier League is yet to act. However, a ‘Netflix of Football’ will almost certainly happen one day, and that must worry the broadcasters who lure subscribers in purely because of their football rights.
But what about the lower leagues and the Saturday 3 p.m. black-out? Well, with all the money coming in, some of that money could be distributed and shared as compensation if attendance were hit. Each football league club can provide data on average attendance going back decades. If they can prove they’ve taken a hit financially, then they should, of course, be compensated on top of any payments that could be equally shared throughout the divisions ahead of any new campaign. With this extra pot of cash coming in, clubs outside the topflight would no doubt pocket more cash than they do today.
It’s time for us to wake up to the benefits of legal football streaming and the technology that can make it happen. We were told that traditional television would never be replaced by the likes of Netflix and on-demand options. How wrong they were! I can’t remember the last time I watched anything live, other than football, on the likes of BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or FIVE. As well as using their on-demand apps, I’m never off Netflix, and from time to time, I drop in on Amazon Prime TV too. Give me a ‘Netflix of Football,’ and I’d be all over it.