We’re just weeks away from the start of the 2009-2010 Premier League season, and the excitement and suspense is already building (Fulham today played the first friendly of the season involving an English team down under today). But this upcoming football season will be unlike any other because of the Twitter effect, the impact that the social media tool will have on the way we follow the world’s most popular sports league.
For those of you who have been captured by the Twitter bug, you’ll know that it’s an extremely addictive way to stay on top of the news, to communicate with friends and people you follow, and to tell others what you’re up to as well as your thoughts. The maelstrom that was created on Twitter as a result of the protests in Iran and the death of Michael Jackson are just two recent examples of how integral Twitter is to our culture.
The dilemma for followers of English football is this, though.
We live in a world where many of us follow the Premier League on delay. With time shifting devices such as DVRs on TVs and websites (thanks to Setanta-i), many of us record matches to view later at a more convenient time. In previous seasons, this has been relatively easy to do to avoid seeing scorelines. Don’t surf English football-related websites on the Internet, and you were safe.
Now with Twitter, however, it becomes much more difficult. Will we have to put our mobile phones aside and stay away from Twitter (and Twitter sites such as Tweetdesk, Twitterrific and others) for hours on end?
For example, it’s very often that I end up watching an English football match six to 12 hours, or more, after it has been played. To not ruin the match by knowing what the final score is, Twitter users like myself would have to avoid Twitter for hours.
Sure, with some self control, this can happen. But the essence of Twitter is staying on top of the latest news and tweets throughout the day for breaking news and observations.
The only solution is to stay away from Twitter. But due to its crack-like addiction, I don’t see that happening. What may happen more often is that football fans will be forced back into watching games live so they can participate in the conversations on Twitter.
Who will have the most to lose from soccer fans becoming addicted to Twitter? At first, it’ll be the networks that show the games live on television such as Sky Sports, ESPN UK, Fox Soccer Channel, Setanta US and others. More fans may skip games because they know what the final score is, and — as a result — the networks may see a slight decline in the number of eyeballs watching their games and, more importantly, the advertisements they carry.
But, the other side to the argument is that Twitter may in fact attract more people to the Premier League match and do what the Internet has done which is to make the Premier League more accessible and to increase the popularity of the sport worldwide.
I predict that this season will be groundbreaking in how Twitter changes the way that we experience Premier League football. The number of people who will be switching from minute-by-minute text commentary to match updates via Twitter will be enormous. And we’re going to be more plugged in to what’s happening much faster than even now.
If you haven’t caught the Twitter bug yet, be sure to sign up today at twitter.com/signup and follow EPL Talk where we have updates throughout the day as well as late-breaking news. In many ways, I’ve been using Twitter as a micro-blogging tool to share the latest news with my Twitter followers more so than blogging on EPL Talk. But between the two, Twitter and this blog, you’ll get a lot of the inside scoop and breaking news delivered to your daily as it happens.
Whether you’re on Twitter or not, be prepared for the 2009-2010 Premier League season to be one like never before. As the season progresses, don’t be surprised to see or hear about new Twitter inventions that are created to maximize the experience of following the sport. This, my friends, is just the beginning of a revolutionary new way to communicate.
PS — It’s July 8, 2009 today and the Premier League still doesn’t have an official Twitter account. Let’s see how long it takes the league to jump on this bandwagon.