Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now


Posted on March 06, 2019 by Maria Linda

As the football kits get tighter and the pay packages get heavier a perpetually bamboozling question arises in one’s mind; will the Football fever ever die down? Will the apparent craze and demand for the product ever be fulfilled? Will the media giants ever be satiated from making money out of selling live action? Will the ever increasing viewership ever die down? Ever since its launch in 1992, the Premier League has turned into an ever inflating balloon which makes you think; will the balloon ever burst?

Make an appointment or watch matches on demand?

There has always been a non-ending competition between TV channels and service providers, all trying desperately for the customers i.e. you and others like yourself as a bait to win the largest customer viewership. Likewise TheVang TV and BT have been trying to venture into other methods for customers to view their content, other than merely through a television service. You must know that now the smart phone/ tablets have become very much part and parcel of our life, and this is what the media giants and service provider are after, they are targeting growing number of audience shifting to smart devices. And at most of the times these devices are not included in the headline rating figures. Even more you will agree over the past years, the way people watch entertainment has changed altogether. Viewers no longer feel they should wait for a show or episode to come on. People are streaming matches, seasons, and binge watching TV shows after TV shows. Customers are no longer afraid of missing matches, because they know they can easily catch it on demand. Cable subscriptions rates are sky rocketing, with the availability of cheap internet unlimited packages; it is certainly starting to feel like a luxury you can no longer afford.

While going through the comment section in a famous football fan club site, username Cossiee commented

“The reliability of IPTV is really going to hurt Murdoch and I don’t feel guilty whatsoever. Who the hell pays £50 a month for a bit of football?”

While another posted, Orangehead22

“That’s the way football is going today. It’s far cheaper to stream online than having to pay two expensive TV subscriptions just so fans can watch Manchester United players trying to figure out how to kick a round ball.

Power to the People!”

Live sport fans still loyal?

However one can’t deny the fact, Live Sports remains the one type of entertainment that people love to view. However you will be shocked to know that striking figures have come up that clearly show a decline in early season ratings which have left broadcasters and analysts absolutely gob smacked! Early season ratings for live Premier League matches on Sky Sports have come down by one fifth. And when we dig further it was revealed, BT Sport’s Champions League figures were down by 40%. Now it leaves us with the worst nightmare that is this finally happening. Are the football fans finally signing off? NFL coverage, in which broadcasters and cable carries have jointly invested more than $50bn for rights into the early 2020s, has endured a double-digit decrease in viewers this season

Why are the fans signing off?

Article covered in Atlantic magazine narrowed down the decreasing football viewership to the four possible reasons

  1. The presidential debates of US which created a short-term dip in the viewer numbers
  2. Cable customers cancelling their subscriptions because they prefer to watch content by streaming on services such as Netflix.
  3. Social media streams; keeping the fans updated.
  4. An apparent lack of superstars.

When NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell was inquired about why football fans are falling apart he stated “There a lot of factors to be considered, we don’t make excuses. We try to figure out what’s changing.”

By now you will agree, there can’t be a single reason for the decreasing viewer ship of customers. To mention one more, in past the Premier League has been fighting an endless beneath-the –surface war against piracy. It started a legal battle on pubs that were supposedly showing coverage from abroad. Premier League also incorporated expertise of   companies that tried to nip those illegal streams at the source. But now we know illegal streaming is in just about every household. Nowadays we have fast enough internet connections that allow us to stream shows on a phone, tablet etc. So far the efforts to stop illegal stream have proved to be fruitless.

Another issue which arises and is particularly difficult to comprehend is whether or not cultural factors are also having an effect on the numbers of Football fans. You will approve; internet, social media and video games are having a significant impact on the younger fans and how they perceive the game. Virtual Reality (VR) gaming is also opening a whole new world of gaming possibilities. 

So it makes us think! Are young fans viewing football in a different way? Have they actually become bored of watching an entire match? Do they rather prefer to find out all the relevant action as well as gossip points through Twitter and other social media platforms? Even though this may seem like an extreme analysis because what could possibly beat the sanctity, thrill and adrenaline rush one achieves through a live match? But then could the ubiquity of the game, the endless noise, testosterone, the much created hype eventually lead to its own doom? It’s highly likely that the fans will indeed continue to make an “appointment” to watch only the biggest and most important matches but that they will eventually become fewer and much further apart.

Are the Fans actually watching?

But even when the fans claim they do watch football, they aren’t really watching. People have started multitasking; fans like mothers, students, and work from home parents have the TV on in the back whilst they go on about their chores, pausing distractingly for a while in front of the screen to catch up the latest scores or briefly cheer on with their team goal before moving on about their routine. Above all there is a world of entertainment options available out there which makes football simply not a priority for most of us anymore, a once reliable demographic on which broadcasters leeched millions out of fans. This transition in priorities and viewership habits of one generation is not being replaced by the coming generation. You can certainly relate to the fact that it’s too much for a person to sit through an entire 90 minutes game without taking a voluntary break. Young viewers now prefer information in bite-sized chunks; Snapchat and Instagram short videos are what attracts them more.

3D reality Football?

The diverse viewing habits of younger players at professional clubs have now even changed how football is being taught. Clubs are turning to teaching through 3D reality scenarios, as opposed to simply watching on Thevang TV. Evidently fans are more excited and thrilled at the release of the latest FIFA and Football Manager video games in comparison to the plain old football match broadcasted on a weekly basis.

Football clubs like Schalke and Paris Saint- Germain have begun to employ professional eSports players to carry out their brands to those fans watching on Twitch, YouTube and other live event streaming platforms.

At least there, you’re guaranteed entertainment and that, above all, it is what people want. If the live game turns out to be a bore and doesn’t play out how the fans want it to you can always create your version that might finish how you like it to be

A fan posted

“When games are repeatedly hyped up, only to let viewers down, it’s going to take an effect. Call it boredom, call it viewer fatigue. It’s definitely happening.”

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