I’m a big advocate of choice, especially when it comes to TV, movies, and music. They should be available to consume a number of ways, both online and offline. However, in the case of the England vs Ukraine World Cup qualifier, choice has gone out of the window.
Online Sports Events
Sports events are clearly one of the most obvious television properties that could utilize the Internet and online video. And in the States that is exactly what has been happening, with pay-per-view options for both over the air and over the Web.
But it hasn’t really happened on a big scale in the UK as yet, with Sky Sports’ domination over broadcasting rights meaning online video viewing isn’t really an option. Until now, with the England vs Ukraine World Cup qualifier only being available to watch online via paid subscription.
England vs Ukraine
To watch the England vs Ukraine World Cup qualifier on Saturday (Oct. 10), you will need to visit the Web site set up specially for the event and pay for the privilege of watching the match streaming onto your PC or Mac.
Payments are being accepted via Paypal, with early sign-ups awarded a lower price of £4.99. Football fans who sign up after Wednesday will have to pay £9.99, with those waiting until the day of the match being charged a hefty $11.99.
The only other option is to watch the match at one of 11 Odeon cinemas around the country.
Who, Why, What?
This situation has occurred due to the collapse of the pay-TV network Setanta which held the rights to England matches. The BBC, ITV, Sky, and Channel Five all failed to land the match in negotiations, so international agency Kentaro decided to go with Perform, a digital sports specialist.
Perform already streams more than 15,000 events a year, so one England match isn’t going to trouble them. However, due to the fact that the match isn’t going to be shown on television in addition to being streamed online, many fans aren’t happy with the situation.
I can see why some England fans are annoyed about this, but England have already qualified, meaning the match wasn’t going to be a big enough draw for the television companies to pay big money for the rights.
Perform is at least offering devoted fans the chance to watch their team, and for a reasonable asking price as well. The question is whether enough British sports fans are ready and willing to accept the idea of streaming sports events over the Internet. And paying for the privilege.
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