FOOTBALL’S TV revolution is coming to your living room this winter.
While Sky and BT Sport still dominate the Premier League broadcasting market, there is a new player in town.
Initially, it seems that Amazon Prime are looking at the Prem as a loss leader, even if they paid £90million for two blocks of ten games in December.
They are even offering fans a month’s subscription in a free trial. Of course, there may well be a smart business motive behind the move.
The launch of the service will bring two nights of games on Prime at the start of December.
You know, that time when the bloke with the red coat and white beard starts to get to work with his elves.
If you subscribe, you may also give the High Street a miss and order your last-minute presents for home delivery instead.
But as far as Premier League fans are concerned, the Amazon deal is not just about watching a few games and an easy option for shopping.
Streaming and multi-platform viewing is just beginning, changing the way we watch football for years to come.
Indeed, it will not just be the other broadcasters looking at the success or otherwise of Amazon’s move over the next three Decembers — but also the clubs themselves.
After nearly 25 years of unending growth in TV revenues, which has turned English clubs into financial behemoths, the new deal which starts in August saw a drop in the domestic pot.
That was more than made up for by the continuing growth in the money paid by overseas stations to screen the Prem around the world.
But former Premier League chief Richard Scudamore — who had so brilliantly encouraged broadcast rivals to scrap like ferrets in a sack for the best picks — recognised the market was evolving.
That explains why media analyst Claire Enders suggested recently there will be a decline of up to 20 per cent for Premier League rights.
If she is right, if this is the beginning of a new pattern, if the two main broadcasters drop their bids next time — then something else needs to make up the shortfall.
That could mean some clubs eventually seeking to sell their own rights or selling more games, using the streaming- service providers as a way to recoup lost income.
After all, one of the hidden success stories of the past few years has been the Sky-owned on-demand service Now TV, offering weekend and short-term passes to watch key events.
Now TV saw a massive take-up of its service during the final series of Game of Thrones.
For many, the clash of clans between Liverpool and Manchester City is far more titanic than the battle for Westeros.
Boxing Day is traditionally the big family football day.
A time when grounds are packed with turkey-stuffed supporters desperate to get out of their houses and watch their heroes in action.
Or even just the local League Two side.
The Boxing Day fixtures, which Amazon also has the rights to, are set to be spread over two days.
That effectively makes live top-flight football available from lunchtime until evening — and will then have a heavy impact on attendances, especially further down the pyramid.
No matter how fed up you might be with the in-laws, opening another beer and watching Leicester v Liverpool — followed by City at Wolves and then Manchester United against Newcastle — may be preferable to schlepping out to Home Park, Gigg Lane or Valley Parade.
Whatever your feelings, this is the start of something new.
And — whether we like it or not — we will all have to get used to it.
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