I still remember the day on October 2, 1983 when the first English top flight match on a Sunday was screened live on British television. The game between Tottenham Hotspur and Nottingham Forest wasn’t memorable, but it was a turning point in the history of kick-off times for English football because the weekend monopoly of all games being played on a Saturday at 3pm GMT was finally broken.
Before that weekend there were hardly any live matches shown on British television other than the infrequent midweek game or a big cup final, which would happen once a year. Instead, a typical Saturday afternoon was spent watching a 3pm game in-person at a cold and wet ground somewhere in the United Kingdom. Then several hours later, it seemed like almost the entire nation gathered under the TV set every Saturday night to watch Match Of The Day which was, for many, practically the only time anyone could see long highlights of First Division games on the box. Typically, Match Of The Day showed longer highlights from just one game that day and then included brief highlights from some of the other games played that day. It’s no wonder that the FA Cup Final still gives older English football supporters a warm and glowing feeling. The game was one of the few guaranteed days in the year when you could see an entire match live on television.
Obviously we’ve come a long way since 1983. Depending where we live, we can see more Premier League games on television than ever before. But despite that, there are still things missing which could improve our experience of watching Premier League matches. Having access to games in HD is one. But rather than dwelling on that one, here is my list of things the Premier League is missing which could make the experience even better than it currently is:
- Premier League Online. Despite all of the massive strides the Premier League has made to bring the 20-team league to TV viewers around the world, the Premier League’s lack of investment and foresight in bringing a comparable online product to Internet users worldwide has been embarrassing. I’m sure the league is concerned that the Internet usage would cannibalize TV rights revenue and could be a nightmare to handle because of piracy issues, but the reality is that more people are watching television online and it’s inevitable that the future of Premier League viewing is online whether it’s on computers or smart phones. That said, the Premier League will hold out for as long as they can so as not to upset the TV companies who pay millions of dollars for the rights to exclusively televise the games. And the Premier League will continue to short shrift everyone who wants to watch games online, legally and at a reasonable cost.
- Highlights package. If someone could put together a daily highlight reel that showed every part of a game that was worth watching, whether it was a brilliant piece of dribbling, an attempt on goal, a goal itself or anything else appealing, and then splice that together for all of the games and provide it on one video, that would be brilliant. Yes, there’s Match Of The Day but that show only shows very brief highlights and often, due to time constrictions, misses important pieces of games. But what I’m talking about is a perfect highlights package that shows everything from a game that was worth watching. And provided it in a timely fashion a few hours after a day’s matches have ended.
- Twitterball. Phil McThomas from Clever Football came up with an idea a few years ago, which was ahead of its time. His concept was to go ahead and have soccer fans rate games as they were being played so that after the games were over, other soccer fans could visit the page and see how the games were rated. The scores themselves wouldn’t be listed, so if you had been out all day and had all of the games recorded on DVR, you could quickly see which ones would be worth skipping and which ones you should watch. Taking the one idea one step further, Twitter would be a perfect platform to base the platform on. This way, you could tweet your ratings during the game rather than go online. Plus, you could receive tweets whenever a threshold was met (if a game was rated four stars or more out of five). This way, you would know it would be worth rushing home from the mall while your wife was shopping, or not.
- Fantasy Premier League iPhone App. It’s not rocket science, but the game would be better if an official iPhone App (and Android app) was made available.
- Panini stickers. It’s not Internet or TV-related, but it is surprising that Panini doesn’t have a deal with the Premier League to sell stickers to soccer fans worldwide. But perhaps the Premier League’s licensing department is demanding an exorbitant fee because it doesn’t make much sense that Panini has stickers for the Scottish Premier League, Manchester United and Liverpool, but not the Premier League itself.
What other things could be added to make the Premier League experience better? Add your ideas in the comments section below.