For years Sky and BT have been the dominant broadcasters for the Premier League. Their live coverage has been the only worthwhile tele to watch on weekends. Not to mention Monday nights too, where Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher’s bickering kicks off the week in style. But with the rise of streaming platforms, could this all be about to change?

Viewing Figures

2016 was the first year to really cause a shock to the ratings figures. Sky sports were hit by a 19% drop in viewers for Premier League matches. This was a huge surprise for the giants of broadcasting. And what was it all down to? The main reason has been put down to online sites such as twitter providing streams and highlights.

Makes sense if you’re an armchair fan. Why waste hours watching the full game, build-up and post-match interviews and analysis when you can see the goals and best bits minutes after the final whistle.

Is this the beginning of the end for Sky Sport Premier League coverage? | Image by Andrew Bowden (CC BY 2.0)

New Competition

Whilst watching highlights on your phone is all well and good as an option, there is now being talk of a new competitor entering the live market.

Social media sites, streaming services and tech companies are all throwing their names into the mixer. Facebook, Netflix and Amazon among the names bidding for rights packages.

BT sport has Lineker, Ferdinand and Owen. Sky has Redknapp and Sounness. Who the hell is left to do the punditry for Facebook? I just can’t see them competing. Football just wouldn’t feel the same watching on a social media site.

Can Facebook's proposed streaming service rival BT Sport

Would Facebook’s Premier League coverage be able to compete with BT sport and legendary presenter Gary Lineker? | Image by Roderick Eime (CC BY 2.0)

Amazon Prime

Out of all the rumoured sites Amazon Prime is the only one to confirm they have a role in the 2019/20 season. The streaming site will show 20 Premier league matches next season. And not just any old fixtures. All 10 Boxing Day games will be available on the site. Nothing says quality family time like gathering round the tele to watch the footy.

Next season will be the first time that three domestic broadcasters will be screening live games. You could argue it’s great for competition. I’d argue it’s just another subscription to pay for.

What then happens if Amazon Prime’s show is a success. More broadcasting companies will want a piece of the pie. Subscription after Subscription to pay for if you want to watch every game, every week. Which most fans do.

It’s virtually encouraging us students to illegally stream games.

Will we ever see the Premier League trophy lifted on Amazon Prime and not Sky Sports? | Image by Ray Booysen (CC BY 2.0)

Illegal streaming sites

It seems many people agree that TV subscriptions don’t offer bang for your buck. Especially when you can get the same content for free online.

Unless TV companies begin to offer cheaper deals, fans are undoubtedly going to boycott big money cooperation’s and stream games free of charge.

Before the start of last season, the Premier league tried to crack down on streaming with a blocking order issued from the High Court. Aiming to protect the official rights holders, Sky and BT from being undermined, it hasn’t changed much.

When one stream goes down another will be back up in seconds. If people choose to watch illegally, they will find a way. No court sanction will stop this.

My reaction

In the long run who knows, streaming sites could provide top quality coverage. But paying for Amazon primes coverage that will only show 2 weekends of football. It’s just not worth it for now is it.

So many broadcasters have tried and failed in the past. ESPN had a good run. Setanta even had a brief stint. Many of you might not even remember that shambles.

So will Amazon Prime be a flash in the pan? Or will they compete with the big boys for seasons to come? Only time will tell.