I buy Apple products. I like glass and aluminium and I like paying 200% extra for electronic goods. I also like sport, I pay a fortune for Sky+ every month and think it is a brilliant service even if one has to put up with the moronic musings of Jamie Redknapp and listen to loveable Geoff Stelling try to pretend he is a good journalist by being an obnoxious pr*ck. There is a massive gap in the market that can be plugged and be considered a win for all parties.
A £90 box has revolutionised the way sport should be watched. It’s called Apple TV. It isn’t a new product and it isn’t a particularly successful product. It has been described as one of the late Steve Jobs’ “hobby projects”. If you haven’t come across it, it basically lets you get the mountain of stuff you have in your iTunes folders off your computer and watch it on your TV. If you are feeling particularly desperate to rinse your download allowance and bank account, you can also buy and rent TV programmes and films at extortionate prices, it also works with Netflix but being a loyal LoveFilm kinda guy that means nothing to me. If this product had apps from 3rd parties it could be truly great, particularly in terms of sport.
Apple TV has an NBA.com and MLB.com channel which offer the full matches, extended highlights and a 2 minute bitesize clip. The short clips are free of charge but the other videos require a ‘Season Pass’. The pass isn’t cheap for the NBA it is a couple of hundred Dollars but it gives you what I presume is advert free coverage of the games. This range of coverage is ideal for viewers who want to watch sport.
If I worked for Apple my idea would be to allow leagues and FA’s to offer highlights of matches in the same way. I am not sure how the online content is marketed currently but I am sure that for the right price something would be sorted out. The key thing is that this service would be offered worldwide. Like it or not, the Premiership has a worldwide audience that needs to be catered for and if games can be shown ‘on demand’ it will make it a lot easier to follow and spread the reach of the games. It would also be a good way to be able to follow other European Leagues. It may be a purist’s view but surely the more spectators there are will benefit the sport, especially for advertising, marketing and it might even help out the odd scout.
I think it would be ideal for soccer (it’s American so it would be called that) but other sports coverage would be massively improved because of it. Test Cricket is one of my favourite things to watch but because I spend the Summer working and the Winter not being an insomniac I can’t watch very much of it. The best I can do is watch the Channel 5 highlights but that means putting up with that insufferable turd Mark Nicholas and Geoffrey Boycott mouthing off – Give me Nasser and Botham any day of the week with a sprinkling of Bumble’s insanity. Imagine being able to come in from work, flick the Test Cricket app on and watch a cheeky half hour highlights package advert free. With the best will in the world, there is a lot of time in cricket where nothing is happening and our lives are busy. You can create your own MotD for the 4 sports teams you follow in the space of 10 minutes.
It would also give smaller sports the coverage they deserve. If you are a sucker for table tennis you pay your subscription for that, you don’t have to stay up to silly o’clock to watch it on Eurosport 12, you just click a button and it’s there. You don’t have to pay large amounts to get Sky Sports, even though you only watch Badminton. The likes of rugby would be helped too. It would make it a lot easier to follow your team of choice. Believe it or not, a lot of people don’t even know there is a Match of the Day for the Aviva Premiership on ITV4 hosted by the Travel Show’s Craig Doyle.
I understand that broadcasting live sport would be a nightmare in terms of dealing with the likes of Sky and other people who have paid a fortune for the rights but coverage is incredibly limited. The 3pm Saturday shutout law (which must be breaking some sort of EU policy) stopping people from being able to watch games in order to boost matchday attendances is utter nonsense. If the games were shown on TV but you could buy a ticket for £15 to go to the match I know what I would do given the choice. Instead you have thousands of people watching their team on a dodgy internet stream while being pestered to meet local fornication partners in your area or being urged to buy Russian women who would make an excellent spouse. Kids can't get to matches because £35 a week stretches their pocket money a bit and it will eventually kill football if you starve the next generation. You can dress things up about safe standing and all of these other measures to improve that matchday experience but it all comes down to how much your club can screw you for (as a Gooner this is a slightly sensitive subject). A ticket price ceiling would be a better idea for filling grounds but never mind, that is besides the point.
The viewing of TV has been revolutionised, you can watch Jeremy Kyle while on the lavatory but yet sport just sits in a draconian cesspit as Rupert Murdoch sits watching the Premier League make him more and more money. If you don’t watch football, Sky is appalling value for money but all terrestrial TV has to offer is Snooker, Bowls and (not even good) Darts. Unless it is one of the ‘must be shown on free TV events’ which no doubt the BBC will pull in one of their ‘rent-a-mob friends for life’ like Sue ‘Ronseal’ Barker and make it unwatchable like ITV do with Chiles, Townsend, Tylsdesley et al. While Apple would be creaming off a profit there would also be money going directly into the sport people want to watch from the subscriptions.
If nothing else it would mean fans who actually go to games wouldn’t get shafted by Sky changing the day of a match from a Saturday 3pm a couple of weeks in advance because they want to stick it on the TV…There seems to be some sort of hypocrisy there somewhere. This isn't just simple minded sky-bashing, they have created a monopoly which only allows about 10% of matches to be shown. In this era it could be so much better.