The cost of watching the Premier League on TV has been increasing in recent years. However, the introduction of a streaming service, nicknamed PremFlix could change this. The service would be run centrally by the league could cut prices for fans and boost revenues for clubs, as well as reduce the power that global corporations such as Sky have over football.
Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992 the cost of watching the top flight of English football from the comfort of your own home has soared. To watch every match this season fans have to pay more than £900, with monthly subscriptions needed for the broadcasters Sky Sports and BT Sport, as well as the recent addition of online streaming service Amazon Prime as a rights holder.
This could be about to change; plans are being worked on to create a centrally run streaming service to show Premier League football, according to CEO of the league Richard Masters. Although many of the details are unknown, this could help to address the affordability problem of being a fan of English football with the service being likened to Netflix. Netflix costs between £5 and £12 per month which, and so if the Premier League were to emulate this kind of pricing structure it could mean football fans have to pay a lot less in the future.
The current high prices have led to frustration amongst fans as well as the rise of illegal streaming of games, with nearly half of fans admitting to having watched matches illegally online, according to a survey conducted for 5 Live Daily.
Although fans could pay less, the Premier League should not expect to see a fall in revenue. In fact, by cutting out the ‘middle man’ of broadcasters, the league’s income could soar. Owner of Crystal Palace and advocate of the PremFlix service Simon Jordan has argued that the idea could increase revenues from the current £2.7bn a year to as much as £24bn. With this in mind, it is hard to see how the idea can be anything other than a win-win for both fans and clubs.
This must be a worry for broadcasters such as Sky, who built their business off the back of the acquisition of Premier League rights. It may also see the end of football being used as a method for companies such as Sky and BT to bring in customers for their variety of products from telephone deals to broadband packages.
This could also prove to be an opportunity for the Premier League to address some of the controversial questions around its football coverage. These include the ban on the broadcasting of 3pm kickoffs and the emergence of matches being played on Friday nights due to TV rights deals.