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Sorry Sky and BT, it’s time for a Premier League streaming service

OPINION: It’s expensive being a football fan. Even ignoring the price of a season ticket, the cost of a subscription to the likes of Sky Sports and BT Sports is ridiculously high and needlessly exploitative. 

It currently costs £22 a month on top of your standard Sky package to gain access to the football-centric Sky Sports channels. And if you want to add BT Sports to the mix in order to watch the Champions League and Saturday morning Premier League action, you’ll need to spend an extra £28 per month. 

That means you’ll be spending an astronomical £600 per year for the Sports channels alone – you’ll actually need to spend even more to get the compulsory basic Sky package if you’re not already subscribed. This won’t be new information to avid football fans who have been forking out such fees for years already, but it looks like the situation is getting worse. 

Additional companies are looking to challenge for a piece of the Premier League pie, with Amazon’s Prime Video (£8.99 per month) streaming service now hosting 20 Premier League matches per season. And reports suggest Apple and Disney Plus are sniffing around, and could well join Amazon, BT and Sky in the bidding war for televised matches.

Amazon Prime Premier League
Prmier League on Amazon Prime Video

While competition is usually good for the consumer, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be beneficial for the individual football fan in this specific scenario. These companies can set the prices as high as they fancy, as they know fans will be desperate to watch their teams compete. And with a growing number of subscriptions required to watch every single televised match, the cost is spiraling out of control – if it hadn’t already done so. 

So when I saw the news (reported by The Mirror) that the Premier League is considering setting up its own streaming service, I couldn’t be happier. By cutting out the middle-men, such as BT and Sky, the Premier League would allow football fans to watch every single televised Premier League match via a single subscription.  

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It does admittedly concern me that the Premier League could set the price as high as they like with no bidding war or competition from other broadcasters, but I highly doubt it would ever amount to the total cost of all the required subscription fees we have to pay right now. 

If the Premier League is smart, it would also offer different subscription plans. I’d personally be very happy to subscribe to a discounted plan that only covered the matches Liverpool were involved in, but this is just idle speculation on my part. 

Burnley vs Everton Sky Sports
Could Sky really lose the rights of the Premier League?

Considering how much money the Premier League is worth, I’m surprised by how long it’s taken for it to embrace the digital age. The BT Sport app on the PS5 is atrocious, and has taken months and months for it to provide a smooth performance. I see a lot of potential in the Premier League having a proper streaming service, allowing you to easily watch the highlights (or even the full match) of any previous game.

There’s plenty of scope to add additional features too. I’d love to see the Premier League allow me to bring up stats mid-game, display multiple matches simultaneously or even add integration to its Fantasy Football app. 

It’s of course possible that the Premier League isn’t serious about creating its own streaming service. As Gary Neville points out, it could well be just a ploy to add an extra incentive for the likes of BT and Sky Sports to bid even higher in the next auction, with the current deal set to expire at the end of the 2024-25 season.

But I think it makes sense for both parties. Football fans would only need to subscribe to one service to watch every televised Premier League match, while the Premier League would earn money directly from fans rather than having to deal with third-party broadcasters. 

The only people that lose out are the head honchos of BT and Sky, and since they’ve been exploiting fans with high subscription fees for the past few decades, it’s difficult to have much sympathy. Jog on. 

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