Is the New Amazon Premier League TV Deal a Step Too Far for Players & Fans?
The beginning of December sees the new Amazon Premier League coverage launch, with 20 games being covered on their Amazon Prime service. This brings football into the live streaming sector for the very first time, and possibly hints at where the Premier League wants to go in the future. However, with the multitude of other deals already in place, is this new TV deal one step too far, both for fans of the game and players?
During the week 3rd – 5th December, the Amazon Premier League coverage will broadcast 10 games, with many of those kicking off at the same time on Wednesday 4th December. Those watching can choose which game they would like to stream from those available at the times when we have more than one taking place.
A further 9 games will be broadcast by Amazon on Boxing Day with one more the following day to round off the 20 fixtures that they are allowed to show. The Amazon Premier League service will stream six 3pm kick offs on Boxing Day as part of their coverage, a day that looks to be perfect for those wishing to do nothing, and a potential nightmare for those trying to make family plans!
Having every game available, including those that kick off at 3pm, even if it is a midweek day, is a big change for the Premier League, but actually what they are doing is moving with the times and putting together the same type of offering that many other sports already have in place for fans.
How Will The Amazon Premier League Deal Affect Fans?
There are positive and negative parts of this deal, but it is fair to say that fans are going to be affected in quite a big way by this Amazon deal.
Those looking at the bigger picture will see one really important positive to this deal, and that is the way in which the Premier League wants to move forward. If you take a look at this deal and what is brings both in terms of coverage and choice then it is far superior to anything else we have available right now. Sky Sports and BT Sport choose the games we watch, and fans of the smaller Premier League teams will often feel like they are missing out, usually making the odd appearance when they play someone in the top six, or for a local derby. This deal gives you the chance to watch exactly what you want to, so if you want to watch Sheffield United vs Watford on Boxing Day you can, a game that would have almost certainly been overlooked for TV coverage.
Amazon Prime is £7.99 per month, with no contract so those who wish to watch in December will be paying £7.99 for the privilege. We have worked out you could watch a total of eight full games based on kick-off times, with four of those being instances where you can watch the only game on, and four being a time when more than one game is available so you can choose what you watch. That is £1 per game if you watch them all, the guarantee that you will see your own team twice and the ability to choose what game you watch on other occasions too, this is a fantastic stand alone deal for Premier League fans, reasonably priced and offering the type of flexibility we have never seen from the English top flight before. You will also be able to catch parts of other games due to the different kick off times that Amazon have brought in, so if you want to watch as much as possible then you will get far more than eight games.
The bulk of midweek games will kick off at 7:30pm, while we will also have one kick off at 8:15pm, which coincides with half time in the first games, allowing people to watch the first half of one game before the second begins. They can then either watch the second game during the half time break before going back to their original game, or stick with the late kick off and watch all of that. The change also means you can watch the full first game before joining in and watching the entire second half of the second game, the first game should have a 9:15pm finish time while the second will be kicking off the second half then, and finishing at 10pm.
This may seem a little confusing, but it will all play out perfectly for Amazon, assuming no long delays, and fans will be able to watch full coverage of the first kick offs as well as one hour’s worth of action from the second game, so despite a crossover you are not actually missing too much of a game that is being played on the same night as another you are watching.
While all of the above sounds fantastic, this is yet another company involved with Premier League TV rights, and yet another subscription that people have to pay out for if they want to watch the live action. It doesn’t really matter how flexible and cheap the deal is when it is something that isn’t stand alone, as you will already be paying out for Sky Sports, BT Sport, and maybe even both. There is no option to cut down on those and move to Amazon only at the moment as they only have the rights to show two game weeks per season, so you would miss out on a lot of football.
Then there is one more issue that Amazon have brought with them and that is kick off times. This is something they have changed drastically, taking away the traditional 7:45pm midweek kick off time and replacing it with two different ones. Then we have the spread of fixtures on Boxing Day, which will really inconvenience fans of the four teams who play first and last, all done to create a day-long offering through Amazon.
While the kick off times will mean the ability to watch more action from other games as we have already mentioned above, it is not very fair on those that attend games. Brighton fans have a trip to Tottenham to contend with on Boxing Day, which is hard enough when you have the lack of public transport that the day brings, but even tougher when the kick off is 12:30pm. The same applies for Liverpool fans, they have a trip to Leicester on Boxing Day, but they don’t kick off until 8pm which is going to make getting home very tricky for many people. Even those who can get home will not fancy driving back from Leicester to Liverpool at 10pm on Boxing Day night after the festivities and action-packed Christmas Day.
While the kick off times may have been moved with the right intentions, and many have been moved by only 30 minutes, there are some that are going to cause a real headache to supporters attending the games, especially those who are travelling to watch their team away from home.
How Will The Amazon Premier League Deal Affect the Players?
Some will say that players are paid enough money to be able to cope with anything thrown at them, and while that may be the case, it is important to note that some teams will be affected more than others by the Amazon deal.
The most affected teams are Leicester, Manchester City and Wolves, who all face a gap of less than 48 hours between their fixtures in between Christmas and the New Year. This is usually not allowed, so the teams must have agreed to do this, something that will be especially hard given the time of year and that everyone wants to try and spend as much time at home with their family.
Leicester will kick off at 8pm on Boxing Day, meaning their game will finish just before 10pm, with their players likely not home until after midnight. They have the Friday to recover but are then back in action on Saturday, with a 5:30pm kick off away at West Ham. With the travelling time to get to their game on Saturday, Leicester will be meeting up late morning on Saturday, leaving the players with just Friday in between, most of which will be taken up by team meetings to discuss the game on Boxing Day and the upcoming game against West Ham, and likely little time at home.
Wolves host Manchester City on Friday 27th December and both find themselves in a similar situation. They next play on Sunday 29th December, with Wolves travelling to Liverpool for a 4:30pm kick off and Manchester City hosting Sheffield United at 6pm that evening. Both these teams will struggle to find any time in between their two games, just like Leicester due to the team meetings and travelling involved, so family time will be at a premium across that period.
The Future of the Premier League on TV
What is happening between Amazon and the Premier League with this deal looks as though it could pave the way for the future of how we all watch the Premier League on TV. The league specifically put this TV rights package up for tender as a streaming package in the hope that Amazon, or one of their rivals such as Netflix or Apple stepped up and took the deal, because this is how they envisage sports being watched in the future. The Premier League are not offering anything ground breaking here, just following what other sports such as the NFL with their NFL GamePass service and the NHL with NHL.TV have been offering for many years.
Sky Sports and BT Sport currently have the monopoly control of Premier League TV rights, but the feeling is that if they don’t change then someone else may change the landscape for them. Whether this is Amazon or someone similar offering a streaming service (18+ T&Cs Apply) on selected weekends like the one we are seeing come to life this money, or the Premier League itself creating some kind of subscription model for people to buy direct like we see in other sports, traditional football viewing is under threat.
As someone who takes advantage of the league streaming services that other sports offer, I would be quick to point out that this isn’t a bad thing, and that any changes which bring flexibility and the option to choose what you watch will be for the better for fans who stay at home and follow the action.
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December 3rd, 2019 by Simon A
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