Saturday 20 January 2018

Future of TV sport is personal

People appear to be turning away from televised sport. Photo: Stock
People appear to be turning away from televised sport. Photo: Stock

Ger Gilroy

People appear to be turning away from televised sport, particularly the NFL and the Premier League. That's the narrative.

There's an abundance of theories, the worst of which keep getting turned into memes across the pond. One NFL wag blamed Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the decline in Premier League viewership figures in the UK.

The point being that the ludicrous theory that the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback's peaceful protests were turning redneck Americans away from the NFL, and this somehow accounted for their drop in figures, so the same stuff is happening to Sky, right?

It's early in the sample size for both sports to be panicking too much about cultural shifts, though who knows, we might be watching peak NFL/soccer happening at the same time. There is however a strong possibility that the fans are still watching football just not the way they're supposed to be for the broadcasters' bottom line.

I'm an Aston Villa fan, and if it wasn't part of my work, I'm not sure I'd even watch highlights of say West Ham against another random mid-table side with no Irish players. The notion of watching a full 90 minutes of that game is, at my stage in life, faintly ludicrous.

I would happily pay a subscription to only watch Villa games and then catch the actual big games as they happened. That's impossible now, as it is for most fans unless of course they break the law. The difficulty the TV companies have is that they are forced to show matches that no-one wants to see. Every team must be televised a set number of times.

Early on in the season the TV companies weight the bad teams to get them out of the way. As a San Francisco 49ers fan, luckily the team are too bad to tempt me to break the law.

If the trend lasts a season or two we'll find that suddenly they'll take our cash on one-off occasions, or just to watch our team. Nothing lasts forever.

Irish Independent

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