Opinion: Amazon Prime is the future of football
By Iwan Hopkins
Admittedly, that is quite a bold statement to make after only three days of streaming. However, after seeing Amazon’s rival to Sky Sports and BT Sport, I think it is now impossible to deny that the future of the beautiful game is online.
Though it seemed ambitious at first, they have successfully shown every mid-week game without so much as a hiccup. Wednesday night’s lineup was the heaviest, with Amazon Prime subscribers being treated to a choice of six live games, including some real crackers.
Though the choice of games was outstanding, it is only really possible to watch one at a time. Well, Amazon thought of this too. Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur and the Merseyside derby were both key fixtures, bound to attract a lot of viewers.
Jeff Bezos’ company got around this dilemma by opting to show the games in a staggered state. While the United fixture kicked off at 7:30 pm, the Scouse sides did not take to the field until 8:15 pm. This allowed viewers to view their preferred match, as well as half of the other big game.
Another new feature in Amazon’s streaming service was the introduction of ‘Stadium FX’, allowing users to immerse themselves in the crowd by disabling the commentators’ opinions. This would be a God-send for BT Sport’s games, where we are often ‘blessed’ with the presence of Robbie Savage.
Amazon have also utilised Spidercams throughout their coverage. Though we have been shown these before in rugby and cricket, the technology has rarely made its way to football. They give a bird’s eye view of all the action which, in my opinion, is a very nice new addition.
However, their most impressive feature is Amazon Prime’s very own ‘X-Ray’. Though this has been used through their online streaming service for television series and films, it brings something truly new to sport. It allows viewers to follow live stats and line-ups, and even view key highlights while the game is going on.
Following Bezos’ success in broadcasting the ten mid-week Premier League games, I think it is difficult to argue with the views of Simon Jordan. Live on talkSPORT, he urged the English FA to make the Premier League into the ‘Netflix of football,’ by introducing their own streaming service.
He suggests a fee of “£9 a month” to access all games across the top tier of English football. While this may seem a financial absurdity for the Premier League given that current subscription can cost “£75 or £80 a month,” it would certainly see a plummet in the number of illegal streams if the game was more accessible.
Though this brings up a dilemma which has been present in England for a long time. How can streaming services such as Amazon or a hypothetical Premier League alternative, who intend to offer all matches, survive with the current 3 pm blanket ban?
Answer: they can’t.
So seemingly, the obvious answer is to remove the ban. However, this is in place for a reason, and without it, many teams would struggle to attract supporters to their ground on a Saturday afternoon.
Should the many fans who cannot travel to watch their team suffer, while the lucky few thrive? It is certainly a debate to be had.