I’ve seen some tosh on the internet. In fact, I have been responsible for much of it. Nothing prepared me for some of the stuff I have been reading, particularly on social networks, about TV coverage of certain sports moving to different platforms. For example, Eleven Sports have gained the rights to show Spain’s La Liga, Eredivise in the Netherlands and Serie A in Italy. Eleven Sports is not your traditional cable or satellite channel. They stream stuff to your computer. People aren’t happy.
Golf fans – the few that remain – saw the US PGA mover to Eleven, albeit for free, and for that reason, hardly anyone knew it was going on or cared particularly. The same sort of thing is happening with the US Open tennis championships which have been bought up by Amazon and shown only to subscribers to their Prime service. This is where some people kicked off, blaming each and everyone, but mainly Sky for not showing it. You couldn’t make it up.
I would suggest that those who refuse to subscribe to any pay TV companies have reason to be at least a little smug. For years, they have had to put up with the majority of sport being syphoned off to the big cable companies Now, even the subscribers are, kind of, getting a taste of their own medicine. And don’t think these forays into TV sports rights by the likes of Eleven and Amazon won’t happen again.
On the contrary, we are at the beginning of a new era where sports rights will become more widespread than ever because, as Sky has proved, there’s plenty of money to be made, directly through subscriptions and, increasingly, pay per view events, not to mention advertising. The likes of Amazon, with pretty well unlimited wealth and power stand, potentially, to make more money still, by way of all the above methods and by cross-advertising its products, as Sky does now in conjunction with the newspapers which are wholly owned by Rupert Murdoch.
We know, too, that eventually the big clubs in the Premier League will demand a bigger share of the broadcasting rights, as already happens in Spain, for example. I suspect that sooner rather than later, individual clubs will be selling their own pay per view ‘tickets’ to on-line customers (I am loathe to call armchair fans like me supporters). Why allow the likes of Burnley and Brighton to earn as much as the big clubs when their supporters are generally confined to their home towns? Not my argument, you understand, but the supposedly democratic, almost socialist, make-up of the Premier League cannot survive in the long run. (Of course, the Premier League is anything but socialist but I am trying to make a point here which is that currently the owners want a competitive league, within reason, to make it an attractive thing to buy into.)
If you thought the days of a nation enjoying a collective experience watching sport on telly were nearly over, you were right. Oh, we’ll have the World Cup and Olympics for a good while yet, but eventually money will talk. That’s because the sports authorities put making money way ahead of anything else, hence their reckless decisions to sell the rights to sports like cricket and golf to minority channels, despite an alarming fall in levels of participation in both.
People aren’t happy to lose what they once considered to be theirs, but lose it they will. It’s progress, you see. Not progress as we know it but this is the world where money is the only thing that matters.