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Sound and Vision: Streaming Premier League football in the UK is a complete mess

OPINION: The 2023/24 English Premier League season kicked off last week with all the hype and excessive build-up I have come to expect from the self-proclaimed Best League in the World.

I want to watch as much Premier League football as I can handle and to do that in the UK three monthly subscriptions are required: Sky Sports, TNT Sports and Prime Video.

Sky’s Sky Sports is the biggest provider, showing between four and six games each weekend (Friday and Saturday evenings, Sunday afternoons and Monday nights) with numerous midweek matches littered throughout the season.

Sky Sports’ prices vary depending on whether you’re subscribing through its Now offshoot, through its Sky TV services or Virgin Media, but on average it’s about £25-£30 a month. Expensive yes, but you’re getting a decent amount of action for that outlay.

Watch the Premier League on Sky Sports with this deal

Watch the Premier League on Sky Sports with this deal

As a new Premier League season begins, Sky is offering its Sports package for £22/month on a 18-month contract

  • Sky
  • £22/month for 19 months
View Deal

The next main provider is TNT Sports, which is a rebranded version of BT Sports which closed when BT merged it with Warner Bros in 2022. TNT Sports shows typically one Premier League match a week, the midday Saturday kick-off, plus all the matches from various UEFA competitions, like the Champions League and the Europa League. There are also midweek fixtures and more matches around the festive period.

TNT’s price varies too, for instance, if I was to subscribe through Sky Stream it would be £27 a month (more than Sky Sports is on there) though if I was to do it through Discovery Plus it would be £29.99 a month. £29.99 a month for, on average, one PL match a week? It makes Sky Sports look like great value.

TNT Sports new season

Of course, both Sky Sport and TNT offer other sports – but it’s fair to say the reason these services are priced the way they are is because of Premier League football.

Trying to get set up with TNT Sports has also proved to be something of a faff. As I get Discovery Plus included with my monthly Sky TV subscription, I can’t upgrade that to include TNT Sports – there’s just no way to do it.

I can pay Sky £27 to add TNT Sports to my Sky subscription, but then I can’t watch it through the TNT app or on an Apple TV in another room – it’s limited to the linear channel on the Sky box. It seems I would have to set up another Discovery Plus account and start another subscription. It’s a mess.

Finally, a smattering of matches – typically around Christmas and New Year – are shown live on Amazon’s Prime Video service. This costs £8.99 – or there’s a 30-day free trial if you’ve never used it before. You’d probably only need to subscribe to Prime for a month or two to watch all the games it has the rights to each year.

Right, so three main subscriptions are needed to watch all the televised matches each week and thus could cost more than £70 if each service is paid for at full price. £70. A month.

And even if you splurge on all three services you don’t get access to every single match. The 3pm blackout still exists, meaning Premier League games kicking off at 3pm on Saturdays can’t be shown on TV or through a stream anywhere in the UK.

If you’re a Liverpool fan and they are playing at 3pm on Saturday you won’t be able to watch with any of those subscriptions. There are many arguments for and against the blackout, some good – some less so – but it does feel like an antiquated rule. Anyway, that’s a discussion for a different column.

Sky Sports Premier League fixtures

A few months ago I was travelling in the States and our fantastic US reporter Chris very kindly let me nab his Google TV log-in details so I could watch one of Leicester City’s crucial end-of-season fixtures.

I was amazed at how smooth and sleek the Google TV service was, giving me quick access to matches that simply wouldn’t be available in the UK – I didn’t need to change apps, remember which service had which game and so on. I was even more shocked to learn he paid notably less than me each month, for more games and an overall better service.

Trying to stream the Premier League is a mess, and it needs a complete rethink. It’s not just the sky-high monthly prices, but the missing matches, and confusing services each with wildly different apps. The oft-rumoured Premier League streaming service would be the dream, but I just can’t see it happening any time soon due to how much money these other providers pay for the rights.

While I hate to say it, I think streaming Premier League football in the UK will continue to be a mess for years to come.

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