New football television packages threaten the golden goose

This week the new television packages for Premier League football were announced. They are as follows:

  • Package A: 32 matches on Saturdays at 12:30
  • Package B: 32 matches on Saturdays at 17:30
  • Package C: 24 matches on Sundays at 14:00 and eight matches on Saturdays at 19:45
  • Package D: 32 matches on Sundays at 16:30
  • Package E: 24 matches on Mondays at 20:00 or Fridays at 19:30/20:00 and eight matches on Sundays at 14:00
  • Package F: 20 matches from one Bank Holiday and one midweek fixture programme
  • Package G: 20 matches from two midweek fixture programmes

Television packages could mean too much football

Now as Twitter followers will know, I am a huge football fan. Obsessive, even. I love the innovation Sky has brought to the game with things like Super Sunday and Monday Night Football. However, even I think these new television packages are a bit too much.

Package C sticks out in particular. Across the season there will be eight matches 19:45 on a Saturday evening. The problems this will cause away fans are obvious. As Football Supporters’ Federation chief executive Kevin Miles told the BBC:

“We do not want to see more games on live TV as this makes life increasingly difficult for away fans in particular.”

Miles called on football clubs to use the huge income generated from these television packages to help away fans.

A game kicking off on Saturday evening, even if you are watching on the television, does genuinely interrupt people’s lives. I do not imagine that many partners of football fans will be very happy to hear they cannot go out on a Saturday night because the football is still on!

New players in the game

One potential consequence of these new television packages could be new media players joining the football broadcasting game. For example, it likely that Amazon, Facebook, or Apple are interested in the Saturday evening television package.

New players in the market should, in theory, give fans more choice and even bring down the cost of what they have to pay to watch football on television. However, it could also mean that there are more firms looking to profit from their investment, who are happy to charge football fans an awful lot more to follow their team.

Everyone involved has made a fortune from football television packages in recent years. It has generally improved the game. However, the football leagues, clubs and broadcasters must now be careful that it does not inconvenience and isolate fans and so that they end up killing the golden goose.

 

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My first book "Not Buying It", looking at post-truth in media and politics, is being published by Unbound

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