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Have We Hit Peak TV Saturation Point With Football?

Football, you can’t wait for it to come back and when it does come back you have ever reason to think to yourself “I spend far too much time watching this” Now I obviously should not complain as the amount of football on the box gives me the opportunity to write about it at length, but have we reached a saturation point when it comes to the amount of matches available?

Let’s take yesterday as an example of the amount of Football on offer and this is on a non Premier League weekend, here is what I managed to watch in one single sitting:

12:30 – Sutton United vs Leyton Orient (BT Sports)
3:00 – Fulham vs Norwich (Championship – via BeIN Sports stream)
5:30 – Tottenham vs Juventus (Premier Sports) & Aston Villa vs Hull (Sky Sports)
7:30 – Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich (BT Sports)
9:30 – Football League Highlights (Channel 5)

Now admittedly I had to stream two of those matches and also needed to pay for a couple of subscription packages to be able to feast on all this football but the question you have to ask yourself is it really worth the amount of time spent.

Most of it ended up becoming background noise in all fairness as although we all love competitive football on the box, the theory and the actual watching of it sometimes become two different matters to be honest and it does make you ask the question whether there is too much on the TV these days.

Yes there is a lot of quantity but is there a lot of quality on yesterday’s serving you would have to say no not really and this is something that can be repeated every week on both Saturday and Sunday while not even accounting for the Premier League TV slots.

Let’s take the opening weekend of the season for example in regards to TV this is what is available next week

Friday Night – Arsenal vs Leicester
Saturday Lunchtime – Watford vs Liverpool
Saturday 3pm – Chelsea vs Burnley (if you know where to find it)
Saturday Evening – Brighton vs Manchester City
Sunday Early Afternoon – Newcastle vs Tottenham
Sunday Late Afternoon – Manchester United vs West Ham

So that is 6 out of the 10 games that you could watch over the course of the opening weekend of the Premier League campaign, even if you take away the Chelsea vs Burnley encounter that is half of the first week’s fixtures shown live. This almost renders Match Of The Day obsolete in this day and age.

I say almost though because people just simply don’t have the time or the attention spans these days to watch that much live football. When you take into account that the younger demographic spend more time watching Youtube than they do TV it goes to show just how archaic this particular medium is becoming, but when you consider just how much clubs depend on TV money then surely it is a bubble waiting to burst.

There’s no secret that Sky are suffering from the streaming revolution in this country, they may have been boosted by British Government legislation giving ISP’s the power to stop Kodi utilising global streams but it will just push the issue further on in this continual game of whack-a-mole, a game that Sky keep continuing to lose.

But in this aspect they only really have themselves to blame as they and the Premier League refuse to offer UK fans a 3pm style season ticket pass for the games that fans actually want to watch. For too long fans have had to pay through the nose for games they have no interest in and it is fair to say that people have had enough and are searching for alternative means.

Now I know this may go against the original notion of there being too much football on TV if you were to offer every game available but at the same time it would make the viewing of the game more focussed as fans would watch what they want instead of having to pay for a bloated subscription.

Of course the thing that does stand in the way of the Premier League offering out a package of this kind is the “3pm blackout rule” which takes place in this country. This rule is in place to protect lower league attendances as the argument is that if all top flights games were made available then no-one would go to watch matches lower down the chain.

Whether that is true or not I don’t know, it’s one of those theories that can only truly be proven if there was a trial measure carried out and then the results could be analysed. But ultimately with their being so much TV games away from 3pm these days is the kick off time itself seen as something of a relic.

The 3pm kick off was designed so that factory workers could work a half day on a Saturday and then go off to a game straight after work, but society has moved on from that and perhaps it is this kick off time which is holding back any real technological advancements in this country.

What does not help is the fact that the EU have muddied the waters with their anti-competition legislation as before when one broadcaster had the rights at least you knew who to buy from and how much purchasing live football would cost each month.

But with the EU not allowing a monopoly on rights it meant they had to be split, so instead of paying for one subscription you had to pay for two. Therefore the consuming became worse off in the long run, what they should have done is opened up to all multiple platforms at the same cost and then late the consumer decide who to sign up with.

Unfortunately that is a legislation which is out of the bottle now and one that is unlikely that is to be changed anytime soon, but arguably that is main the reason why people have turned to streaming because they do not want to pay across multiple platforms.

With the Premier League in the second season of a three year deal it will be interesting to see whether or not the domestic deal can once again be topped, especially with Sky customers leaving in droves and BT now reportedly reconsidering their sporting strategy.

If it isn’t, then it may not necessarily be cause for concern as the belief is that the overseas element of the deal will pick up the slack but should these two media giants not be able to find the same amounts of cash then it will leave the door open to the likes of Netflix and Amazon to finally enter the market.

And if that happens, guess who loses out. Yes you guessed it the consumer. The televisual landscape is going to change in football over the next few years that is an absolute given but just how will the relationship between the two continue and are we past the point of no return?

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