BT looking to sell
The landscape of football broadcasting in the UK has changed a lot over the last couple of decades.
From nostalgic live broadcasts on terrestrial television, football has taken a very different direction through companies such as Sky and BT.
The finances of the sport have benefited hugely from the acquisition of television rights. Customers paying a monthly subscription to watch their favourite teams and players has led to a huge increase in revenue for clubs in the UK to the envy of those on the continent.
17 December 2020, Brandenburg, Schönefeld/Ot Kiekebusch: The Brandenburg sorting centre of the mail order company Amazon. Incoming parcels are sorted here according to delivery areas on an area of around 34,000 square metres and then transported on to the distribution centres. Photo: Soeren Stache/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB (Photo by Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images)
However across the last couple of years the encroachment of streaming services on UK football has become a reality.
Amazon bought the rights to stream a number of games this season, taking advantage of the pandemic’s impact on the game meaning all games needed to be broadcast for supporters to watch.
The pandemic has had more of an effect than this and is largely the reason why BT has rethought its stance of the sports broadcasting side of the company.
According to the Financial Times, BT is in talks with a number of companies about selling its sports broadcasting business.
SINSHEIM, GERMANY – DECEMBER 20: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) DAZN Logo on the microphone is seen during the Bundesliga match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund at PreZero-Arena on December 20, 2019 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Amazon along with Disney, who own ESPN, and DAZN are all supposed interested parties but have so far made no comment.
What supporters will be concerned about is the prospect of increased online streaming of matches over television broadcasts.
Whilst it is yet to be confirmed whether or not the sale of BT’s broadcasting business would include the television channels from which to show matches and programs, the worry is that the companies involved have had great success from online streaming.
What some people have found whilst using Amazon’s streaming service is that the strength of their internet connection has had major impacts on the quality of the picture of which they are consuming. Whereas previously their cable or satellite would provide uninterrupted coverage.
Many people complained to Amazon on social media about buffering and poor connection quality throughout many games in the last few years.
— Leon Oakes (@LeonOakesOffic) December 4, 2019
— Richard Knight 💙 (@Rich_Knight91) December 28, 2020
There has also been concerns about prices considering the £14.95 per match fee which was attributed to some games earlier this season through the lockdowns.
£14.95 to watch a game on pay per view is disgraceful. £5, ok, but £14.95? It’s disgusting. At a time when PL clubs spent £1.2bn on players. When they’ll give agents £200m. When so many families are struggling. The creed of greed is in @premierleague DNA but this truly stinks.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) October 9, 2020
Fans could quickly grow frustrated should their streams either have connectivity issues, delay or buffering.
The possibility that a television channel could be used by whoever purchases from BT is encouraging but not guaranteed. Studios are already in place and there is no shortage of presenters and pundits looking for work.
Whatever happens, a new age of football broadcasting is ready to take hold of the UK.