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Amazon and HBO Max to enter soccer streaming wars?

Amazon and HBO Max Streaming Soccer

There is a legitimate chance of seeing Amazon and HBO Max streaming soccer. Sure, we all know Peacock, Paramount+ and ESPN+. But, there are always new names entering the market.

In recent years, the broadcasting of soccer leagues has shifted from linear television to streaming services. This trend – best exhibited by the trendsetting Bundesliga followed by LaLiga – has continued to accelerate with more Americans streaming everything from Netflix movies to live sports events.

We’ve seen consumers adjust, albeit with some reservations to the transition of the aforementioned leagues, as well as more games of the Premier League, Serie A and UEFA Champions League that have shifted to streaming.

Given the current soccer streaming wars and the likelihood that more streaming services, not less, will begin broadcasting soccer, how will soccer fans react if we see Amazon Prime or HBO Max jump into the mix in the near future? Remember, neither of these services currently broadcasts live soccer matches at the moment. However, opportunities abound. The rights to the Premier League, MLS, USMNT and USWNT expire within the next twelve months.

American Soccer fans have grown comfortable with streaming services

The increased streaming of soccer on ESPN+, Paramount+ and Peacock accustomed viewers to using these services. Still, it must be noted these services are all connected to mainstream linear networks. Their intense promotion on linear programming helps the transition to streaming.

Additionally, soccer fans are fairly comfortable using services like fuboTV or sports-only streaming platforms like DAZN or Eleven to watch matches. Those who like less mainstream properties tend to be more savvy in this regard.

Even as streaming has grown as a way to broadcast live soccer, we’ve not seen the likes of Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime nor Discovery+ show matches in the United States. But it’s likely just a matter of time, given the shifting landscape in the media world before some prominent soccer property finds itself on Amazon Prime or HBO Max, in particular.

So, what happens when live soccer inevitably ends up on streaming services unassociated with live sports or a prominent linear broadcaster?

The Hulu Experience

Disney’s decision to integrate ESPN+ into Hulu for streaming bundle subscribers has ended up being an effective gateway to test the concept of live soccer on what is otherwise an on-demand entertainment platform.

While Hulu is now associated with Disney, it has long-been a place to find on-demand programming associated with TV networks. But, in the past, it was not a place to view live events. Hulu, in many ways, pioneered streaming on-demand sitcoms and movies. This hedged the television networks against the growing power of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The ESPN+ integration into Hulu, per this writer’s anecdotal evidence, changed the viewing habits of many in my circle.

Premier League success in the UK on Prime 

Amazon Prime received rave reviews for its coverage of the Premier League in the United Kingdom since its inception. Over the years, Prime has used some of the best-known soccer commentators and presenters. Moreover, the service offered matches free of additional charge on its streaming service. Amazon only broadcasts Premier League matches on special midweek occasions, but that proved to be more accessible to viewers than its Sky Sports counterpart.

The general consensus among UK-based Premier League fans is that they would not object to seeing a greater share of matches broadcast on Amazon Prime during the next rights cycle. Additionally, Amazon has been given favorable grades from the written press in terms of both their presentation and accessibility when broadcasting the league.

In the U.S., Amazon received praise for its streaming of live sports on Prime.

Could we see Amazon and HBO Max streaming soccer? 

In a word, yes. In fact, it’s probably inevitable at this point. As noted above, Amazon Prime aired Premier League matches in England. Discovery+ expressed interest in acquiring Ligue Un rights domestically in France.

Major League Soccer appears a very attractive property for streaming. The decline of linear Regional Sports Networks (RSN’s) over the last five years compounds the interest of streaming services for the league. MLS’s growing relevance domestically makes out-of-market matches unavailable on a linear channel very attractive for streaming services.

The recent addition of MLS clubs in Austin, Nashville and Charlotte, three hot “emerging” Sun Belt markets that have attracted young professionals that are also streaming-savvy, improves MLS’ viability for a potential deal with Amazon Prime or HBO Max.

NBC Sports is in its final year of broadcasting the Premier League under its current six year deal. With NBC closing its dedicated sports channel, NBCSN, later this year and its increasing reliance on clunky streaming service Peacock, the time may be ripe for a new rights holder to move in.

Potential Deals

Some estimate the upcoming U.S. Premier League rights deal to surpass $2 billion over six years. Therefore, only a few broadcasters will be willing to lay out that sort of cash for this property. Obviously, ESPN and CBS Sports are in the mix. Yet, it’s also very possible Amazon Prime or HBO Max could make a move.

The Premier League recognizes the power of streaming in the UK market. The league may not see much difference between buried channels on various service providers and a straight streaming deal.

Ultimately, an exclusive streaming deal is likely a non-starter. For example, NBC could continue to guarantee a match or more a week on network television, or CBS may likely promise a match a week or more on broadcast TV.

However, there are certain tricky hurdles. NBC decided to fold NBCSN to move matches to USA Network and NBC over-the-air. Putting games on over-the-air broadcasts is tricky with the FCC requiring educational and public affairs content on weekend mornings. Also, there is always the risk of people not switching over from NBCSN to the cable channels. In that regard, giant streaming services like Amazon Prime become a very real option for the league.

Bottom Line

Streaming is now the primary manner in which to watch top level soccer in the United States. As the transition from broadcast and cable television to streaming continues, expect to see more streaming players.

Furthermore, these will not be the standard sports-first programming. These rights bids will come from services known for on-demand programming.

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110 Comments

110 Comments

  1. JP

    September 23, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    @Efrain, they must’ve heard us…..picture quality for the Barca match up to usual standards

  2. Efrain

    September 23, 2021 at 6:24 am

    @JP
    Think you’re right. I watched the Atletico Madrid match and the picture didn’t seem as nice as usual. I chalked it up to a very sunny day because it seemed picture was very bright. Maybe something else was going on. Hopefully ESPN hasn’t taken a step backwards.

  3. Efrain

    September 23, 2021 at 6:20 am

    @Mercator
    That’s very strange on the 60fps for USA. I thought all NBC properties used the same equipment, thus, same PQ. Good to know. I did pay the $20 to Youtube TV for one match in 4k, but not worth the money for a very limited 4k schedule. I have no experience/knowledge on IPTV. But regarding Sky/BT streams I thought they were only available through NowTV. I didn’t try NowTv because of the horrible reviews I read.

  4. Efrain

    September 23, 2021 at 6:14 am

    @Hans
    Agreed, the younger gen is fine with watching on tablet, pc, mobile……so that absolutely doesn’t help us oldies who want to enjoy on big screen. I’m only at 65″ so can’t imagine how much more poor PQ must bother you at 136″!

    If I learn anything new I’ll post on this thread or another related article.

  5. Efrain

    September 23, 2021 at 6:10 am

    @Ra
    I used: info@premierleague.com

    Don’t know if it worked as I didn’t receive a response, or automated response, but I didn’t get a bounce back either so hopefully someone read it.

    Maybe Christopher has a better contact he can share with us 🙂

  6. JP

    September 22, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    Speaking of picture quality, is it just me, or does it seem like the La Liga matches where ESPN uses there own commentaters has a bit lower video quality this past weekend and this week? Still very good, just doesn’t seem as sharp. Haven’t noticed with Eredivisie (no ESPN commentary) or La Liga where world feed used.

    Star+ maybe related? Know there were comments about them using that feed for Spanish commentary on Bundesliga, maybe using that feed for other purposes and not as clean?

  7. Ra

    September 22, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Ps: LG Oled tv should have a fair upscaling algorithm. Make sure it is turned on.

  8. Ra

    September 22, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    I never looked seriously into this issue because I decided to skip 4k TVs for now. But I would look into a good AI-powered upscaling. Content at this point is scarce and expensive. I read somewhere that the Nvidia Shield Pro does a great job and is supporting 1080p60 after one of the updates.

  9. Mercator

    September 22, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    @Efrain – I actually I think the switch from NBCSN to USA will help with that. NBC, for some bizarre reason, does stream USA in 60fps, but not NBCSN (or Peacock). No idea what it comes out as on cable or if Peacock will ever be upgraded. I don’t think 4k streams are coming anytime soon, it’s a lot of bandwidth and quite telling Youtube TV charges $20 extra for it. I looked into IPTV 4k alternatives and they are available using Sky/BT UK streams but a single 4k connection is north of $25 a month (normal are $5 or under) so its just not worth it. Without getting the HDR right its also never looked great for me anyway (and my ATV still doesn’t seem to get HDR right for 4K on YTTV or Fox).

    Some of these companies can’t keep a normal stream going for 2 hours and can’t figure out how to program a pause button into a video streaming app. No hope for them to get the 4K infrastructure right soon, and really no incentive as I wouldn’t pay much extra for it or change providers because if it.

  10. Hans

    September 22, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    bread/breed 😆

  11. Hans

    September 22, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    @Efrain
    You and I are doing the same thing wait and see until the rights have been decided. Unfortunately your way of watching games and mine are steadily becoming the minority because a younger generation uses mobile devices and not Home Cinemas or large OLED displays. I am experiencing this in my case as I have a projector and a 136″ screen in a home cinema, but am finding out I am a dying bread. So unless the next generations are following our pattern here in the US I fear 1080p it is. In addition the US is not very high on the best Internet Access infrastructure which again will have an impact on the 4k streaming.

    Finally because I am interested very much in Southern Hemisphere Rugby I constantly monitor the VPN connectivity for New Zealand and Australia and providers in various forums. Providers in both countries are not such a PITA as DAZN is. Stay in touch and share your experience.

  12. Ra

    September 22, 2021 at 8:05 am

    @Efrain. Please share the address you used to write them. I will also like to send them my two cents (all streaming, 60fps, multiview, etc.)
    It is a ripe opportunity for anyone to offer 4k streams. The first league that does it is likely to cannibalize rivals due to the much better image quality. They could even charge some more for this option as almost anyone does.

  13. Efrain

    September 22, 2021 at 7:35 am

    @Hans @Ra
    Sorry for any confusion, 4K is only the icing for me. Nice to have but not absolutely needed. I just want a clear image, and with NBC/Peacock broadcast at 30fps we aren’t getting the best image (compare to ESPN+ at 60fps because sporting events look best at 60fps). I have an LG OLED and the image is wonderful when the source is right, but watching EPL on current source is crap. So while I don’t want to pay extra for the occasional 4k game, I will pay extra for a better overall image that I can see in every game.

    Thanks for link on Fubotv 4k, but not worth paying for a game here and there. What annoys me more is that Comcast won’t show them anymore. It’s NBC, their company! And they won’t show that occasional 4k game! Frustrating and a reminder of how much I hate Comcast.

    I saw Optus as an option but I think they stream at 30fps. I read about New Zealand Spark Sport streaming in 60fps but I think they are also hard on VPN’s like DAZN and there are very few VPN servers there supposedly.

    So I guess I’ll deal with it until the rights renewal and hope something changes. I did write the Premier League asking them to consider broadcast/streaming quality from bidders when awarding the rights but I doubt anyone really cares. Still had to voice my two cents. Unfortunately I think picture quality is not at the top of list of EPL priorities.

  14. Ra

    September 21, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    @Efrain I have 4k OTA in my area. Do you know what is actually being broadcasted in 4k and if it is worth it at this point?

  15. Ra

    September 21, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    @Hans @Efrain It will be tough to VPN a 4k game. It needs a 30Mb minimum speed to perform well. VPN encryption will need even more bandwidth. The packets will also travel from the outbound server to VPN inbound to your regional hub. It will add a lot of load. I am not sure if you can get this bandwidth from your VPN service.
    If you are need 4k, your best options are FuboTV. And you will only get 1-2 4k EPL games per month. Google “Fubo 4k games” and you’ll find the link to what is available. The next EPL game is Oct 3.
    I am still waiting for more 4k matches to be available to upgrade my tvs. Not worth at this point IMO.

  16. Hans

    September 21, 2021 at 11:45 am

    @Efrain
    With your 4k preference I believe you are stuck with UK providers plus VPN which for me is prohibitively expensive.
    That gives you a few choices depending on 1. How tech savvy you are and 2. how much do you want to pay to uphold your principles. I have resigned to the fact to wait until the new rights are finished and then make a move. Until then for me it is Peacock plus and for NBCSN my favorite free Internet site for EPL games on cable.
    I will also keep my eyes open for who has the rights in an English speaking country in the Southern Hemisphere or Asia. For example in Australia it is Optus Sport for $15AUD ($11US) per month plus VPN for ease of use and no tech experience in the US it is Sling TV Blue plus Peacock Premium $40 per month and 1$ less if you have a yearly subscription for Peacock.
    I am sure we will have a very lively discussion again once the US broadcast rights have been settled or once NBCSN has been turned off.

  17. Efrain

    September 21, 2021 at 5:59 am

    @Hans- Thanks for all that info. You’re right, doesn’t seem like it’s worth all the trouble with DAZN. I was focused on them because they stream at 60fps. I had also looked into NowTv in the UK which streams BT Sport/Sky Sport EPL matches but the reviews are awful.
    I guess I’m stuck with NBC/Peacock for now. (Making matters worse…. Comcast used to broadcast about one 4k UHD game per week, and they don’t even do that anymore. Only Youtube TV and Directv show that game now).

  18. Efrain

    September 21, 2021 at 5:42 am

    @Christopher- Ahhhhh, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining.

  19. Hans

    September 20, 2021 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, had forgotten about that reasoning. “Amazon will take over exclusive video rights for “Thursday Night Football” starting in the 2022-23 season, a year earlier than anticipated as Fox exits its pact early.”
    Hopefully the conclusion that the EPL could be of the same mind as the NFL is spot on.

  20. Bobby

    September 20, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    The mighty NFL the most popular sport by far in this country is going to on Amazon Prime beginning in 2022 so I don’t think the Premier League will have any hesitation selling the TV Righta to Bezos and company.

  21. Hans

    September 20, 2021 at 11:32 am

    @Ra
    Thanks for your detailed answer as I now have a clearer picture. Did a few hours research yesterday and it looks like that DAZN is one of the fiercest Geo-blocker services as some people can connect with premier VPNs to other services like Netflix but not DAZN. I investigated running my own VPN server as I have a few QNAP NASs running 24/7 but the problem would be the access point at the destination. All my sporting events (Soccer & Rugby) are set with the exception of the EPL being on one platform, but since the rights are up for bidding I can do with the remainder of the season what I am doing right now, especially since Arsenal is not worth watching at the moment. Again thanks for being willing to combine knowledge to solve a problem.

    @Efrain
    I feel your pain but as mentioned above DAZN seems to be extremely difficult to stream to another country and many have shared their experience of been able to stream using ExpressVPN Geo-blocked providers like Netflix but not DAZN. Here are 3 things that I found out.
    1. The creation of the account has to be made so that it is interpreted by DAZN as being in Canada.
    2. DAZN wants $CD not US converted which means a Canadian CC or creating a Gmail account with Canadian address and then use that for a Canadian PayPal account and transfer Canadian dollars. The only other way is to purchase on Amazon . ca subscriptions, but even there people had problems, whether that is because the subscription is no good or because they were detected using a VPN is not clear.
    3. It is not a given that should DAZN work it will work for a long time as their algorithm for checking VPNs is constantly updated.
    Bottom line for the vast majority it is not worth to jump through this many hoops to get sporting events the way it seems reasonable and likable to the end user. Finally the EPL is streamed by many other providers in other countries that are not as efficient or eager to Geo-block like DAZN. For example Stan Sport in Australia is one of them but it doesn’t carry the EPL. Some of the Asian providers may be easier to use, but for me all of that would be solved if Comcast would broadcast the EPL the way Paramount is handling Serie A.

  22. Ra

    September 20, 2021 at 9:19 am

    @Hans PS: Things get tougher. Remember the days when Unlocator would do the trick with a simple proxy?

  23. Ra

    September 20, 2021 at 9:15 am

    @Hans. It is hard to tell based on the vague description, but I remember checking a couple of years ago a VPN exchange website based on OpenVPN (don’t recall the name). People would open and post VPNs access points. I created a sandbox environment to check it (I am that curious), but from the start, it was a no-go for me because of security. You would also need to find a new access point each time and speeds varied, but the few I tested were not great.
    By anything off the shelf, I mean anything commercial. It will have heavy traffic and the IPs will get blacklisted. Some will work for a time and stop working the next week. That is why it is not advisable to go for long-term plans, even though they are cheaper.
    The only reliable solution (in my opinion) is to do your own VPN server. It is indistinguishable from the original network traffic. Very few people are able to pull this off (it requires technical knowledge and access to equipment in the specific geography).

  24. Efrain

    September 20, 2021 at 5:45 am

    @Greg, Thanks for the info. I understand the reasoning behind the country to country restrictions. But what I was trying to say was that I’m curious how a company in Canada that is potentially making more money from viewers coming from USA is actively deterring USA viewers…. actively catching them being “naughty” and refusing service, hence, losing additional revenue.

    • Christopher Harris

      September 20, 2021 at 8:29 am

      If DAZN continues to turn a blind eye to a large number of people subscribing to their service via VPN without DAZN trying to take any precautions to prevent it from happening, that hurts their chances of getting future rights deals with other broadcasters around the world. So it may help DAZN’s bottom line for the short-term, but it could damage their chances of acquiring rights deals in the long-term, which ultimately could hurt their business more.

  25. Hans

    September 19, 2021 at 11:29 pm

    @Ra
    Thanks for staying on top of this. When you say “anything off-the-shelf” do you mean free or perhaps uncomplicated 1 click solution? I am looking into a VPN solution for my sports events. I am tech savvy as I made a living in the IT world.

    I don’t have a problem with the money aspect, it has more to do with the quality of the stream and content as most networks use a stream that the event provider makes available. For example the Rugby Premiership in the UK that is shown on Peacock is identical to what Stan Sport shows in Australia.

    In the US many of the Rugby competitions are carried by FloSports which has nothing but bad reviews and complaints with the Better Business Bureau and Financial institutions where customers try to get their money back because false advertising. Since they carry some tournaments I am trying to get around them. Can’t understand why sporting institutions would even deal with them.

    Do you have any idea what this reference to “Urban Tool” is?

  26. Ra

    September 19, 2021 at 10:03 pm

    @Hans Star+ also doesn’t work with anything off-the-shelf.

  27. greg

    September 19, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    @efrain – broadcasters get rights to show matches in a specific country or region. Have you noticed when the EPL matches start on NBC there’s a graphic noting that the match on NBC is only authorized for viewing in the US? This protects rights holders so that viewers aren’t shopping around to get the best price and thus hurt the value of commercial sales. If few people viewed on NBC but instead went elsewhere the ad time wouldn’t be as valuable. In England they not only protect the local rights holders but they want the 3pm blackout so people go to local club matches. Also in the UK for BBC tv it’s funded by tv license fees so they want to limit to people who’ve paid it.

    It’s the same for things like Netflix, Amazon, etc…rights are bought for specific geographic areas. Netflix is very active in shutting down out-of-region VPN.

    I’d agree with the argument that we’re in a global environment and perhaps this is outdated. But there are defensible reasons if the rights packages are so expensive to each broadcaster…they have to make the money back + profit or else they wouldn’t be in business for too long.

  28. Efrain

    September 19, 2021 at 11:58 am

    @Hans I signed up for DAZN Canada and created account. When I go to billing and input credit card info, that’s when they see that it’s a VPN. It doesn’t ask for address, just the credit card info. I don’t know what you me.an about monthly refills. Payment options are credit card, Mobile bill Telus, Pay Pal, Gift Code. Have you had any experience with this site?

    On a side note, I wonder why DAZN is so active to prevent VPN subs. it only brings more business to their site. Are they breaking the law by turning a blind eye??

  29. Efrain

    September 19, 2021 at 11:43 am

    @Move To Canada: I understand what you mean about the “Urban Tool” but have you tried it yourself? I wouldn’t want to sign up just to find out DAZN knows it’s a VPN and blocks it.

  30. greg

    September 18, 2021 at 11:18 am

    @Me, thanks for the UK view. I thought the claims about Amazon & streaming appetite in the UK was a bit overblown based on things I’d read on Twitter and heard on some pods. Again, I don’t think the cable & satellite services and the similar apps like Fubo are going away soon. Until and unless the streaming sites offer Pause, Rewind & Forward during matches and either a DVR or start from the beginning option on matches in progress people will be unhappy with the service. If they don’t roll these features out, streaming is literally like going back to the days pre-VCR where if you missed it live you were SOL.

  31. Ra

    September 18, 2021 at 10:51 am

    @ESPN Sur Great info! Thanks for sharing.
    I hope that ESPN also gets EPL so that I can conveniently stream it in multiple languages. It would be game over.

  32. Hans

    September 18, 2021 at 10:36 am

    @Move to Canada
    ‘free “Urban” tool’
    This is the second time I have read this in this thread what is this mysterious “Urban” tool?
    @Efrain
    Glad to know that Express VPN didn’t work, but what did you use as address for your account and what did you use for payments, have you tried to purchase monthly refills from an on-line site? DAZN is very active in trying not to allow VPNs to connect to their service.

  33. Ra

    September 18, 2021 at 10:09 am

    @ESPN Sur. I can’t recognize region based on the accent, but I realized it was somehow different. Liked it!

  34. Ra

    September 18, 2021 at 9:59 am

    I was just watching part of the Bayern game in Spanish to compare and they are using the Star+ audio/video feed.
    I just realized that ESPN would have synergies if they got the rights here. They could broadcast it in English, Spanish and Portuguese without any effort.

  35. Move to Canada

    September 18, 2021 at 8:54 am

    @Efrain:

    You will need to “move” to Canada in order to use DAZN Canada.

    The “move” can be accomplished easily with a free “Urban” tool

  36. Efrain

    September 18, 2021 at 8:35 am

    Some of you with VPN’s…. anyone know of a good VPN that will work for DAZN Canada? I tried Express VPN but that doesn’t work.

  37. Stevek

    September 18, 2021 at 6:57 am

    Thank you for taking the time to add that assessment, Me, I couldn’t help but chuckle at Kartik’s “The Premier League recognizes the power of streaming in the UK market.” It struck me as twisting the narrative to fit a personal agenda in light of the big checks Comcast/Sky and BT Sport wrote for the next 3 years.

    Your conclusion also seems very astute to me: “The biggest problem for everybody is that the rights simply aren’t worth $300m per season for the US market. Any company wishing to monetise the rights will be aware that they won’t turn any profit on the purchase.” Is there any traction in the UK media or amongst the rank and file in Britain for a Premflix OTT? Simon Jordan has been talking about it for years that if he were still an owner he’d try to rally the other owners toward that direction…

  38. Me

    September 18, 2021 at 3:33 am

    In the UK, where I’m based, the impact of streaming-only sport is negligible. Sky Sports and BT Sport still focus their efforts on linear delivery via satellite but both also offer streaming options, which are carbon copies of the linear services. Any ‘digital only’ content tends to be available via the red button, which is accessible… by pressing the red button on your remote and is delivered via satellite. Sky Sports offer their additional EFL matches via streaming, but they’re streamed directly to their TV boxes via the red button.

    Your claims about Prime Video are quite sweeping and lack basis for me. Yes, Prime Video did receive many glowing reviews for the coverage but they received just as many complaints. Streaming live sport is bandwidth intensive and it became immediately apparent that servers and local broadband exchanges were struggling, leaving many people with buffering. Then there’s the latency… many people complained about their coverage being anywhere from 1-3 minutes behind.

    The fact that Amazon were awarded the package they have has less to do with the Premier Leagues sudden love of streaming and more to do with the fact that, domestically, simultaneous matches aren’t valuable to broadcasters. UK broadcasters want to showcase unique time slots and BT refused to pay the asking price for the package, hence the reason Amazon’s package went unsold for a couple of months after the other packages were awarded to Sky and BT. They eventually got the package for circa £30m per season – incredibly cheap in Premier League terms – but that’s due to the simultaneous kick-offs. Only after much debate and consultation were they allowed to alter the kick-off times and introduced a new 8.15pm time so they could have a unique fixture slot. They were also the reason there’s now a Thursday night match – again because they want unique slots.

    Contrary to popular belief, the Premier League only ask for certain guarantees- mainly financial – and if a broadcaster wishes to stream or distribute matches on a linear basis, it’s ultimately up to the winning party.

    The biggest problem for everybody is that the rights simply aren’t worth $300m per season for the US market. Any company wishing to monetise the rights will be aware that they won’t turn any profit on the purchase.

  39. jason

    September 17, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    For all the discussion here guys we have no control over it. Its the big corporate big wigs who will work the deals out. We just have to react to whatever happens.

  40. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    @dave I would describe my approach as grow and pruning. I am always testing new services, but will keep just the ones I see utility and a good cost-benefit. But, yes, I am open to try new leagues as well.
    I like my ESPN+/Paramount+ combo because they are countercyclical.
    I watch EU leagues in the mornings and SA leagues at night. SA is in full speed during the summer break here and vice-versa.
    It has worked very well for me so far.

  41. Hans

    September 17, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    @Ra
    that is an excellent suggestion but it might be an issue with the bandwidth. On the Rugby Union subreddit forum, lots of people are subscribing to Stan Sport and even paying with US Credit Cards as Stan Sport doesn’t seem to care. DAZN in Canada also carries the United Rugby Championship but they are more difficult to connect to with VPNs. Just in case anyone wonders no it is NOT illegal as nowhere in the T&C VPN access is mentioned.

  42. locofooty

    September 17, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    Cmasia, don’t you put that devil on us of splitting up the rights, nope nope lol. It’s a bit different with the merican sports you listed because they are the native sports for this country and interest is higher combined. Same with the PL in the UK having multiple partners, it is the native sports league of that country. I know there are examples of foreign leagues in countries have more than just one broadcast partner. I don’t think it would benefit anyone by splitting up the rights here in the US, not the league, fans, networks. Especially in the media landscape we are in I don’t see it happening.

  43. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    The nice of this solution is that it is almost impossible for them to blacklist your exit IP there due to overuse.

  44. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    @Hans I can check if they have this one as well. Do you have family in Australia? If you do, you can probably take some equipment there (RPi or router) and have your personal VPN access point.

  45. Hans

    September 17, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    @Ra
    Thanks for checking I have the Rugby Championship covered, there is an Australian sport channel Stan Sport which has the Rugby Championship and since it is in the middle of the night US East Coast time, someone is capping them for me and that tournament is covered for me.

    However the United Rugby Championship starts next weekend and is a different competition and is a Northern Hemisphere competition. I am seriously considering subscribing to Stan Sport as they are not just sport but movie and TV shows as well and by far THE network for Rugby. $18 US per month with the sports package plus the VPN fee. They only require an Australian Post/Zip code plus you can pay with PayPal.

    In addition to Rugby they have Tennis and all the European Soccer competitions that Paramount+ carries.
    Again thank you and here is to the best service for the EPL! I will subscribe to Peacock as they cover lots of Northern Hemisphere Rugby and I watched today’s opening game of the new season of the Gallagher Premiership.

  46. dave

    September 17, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    @Ra, I want to build off the second part of your response in our previous exchange, which is ” . . . the abundance of content is almost overwhelming . . . is a key reason why I can have the luxury of having easy and cheap access to high-caliber content as a must-have to any soccer I watch. The same goes for TV shows and movies”
    .
    I suspect you and I are aligned on the abundance but act on it differently. I read your response to say that you constrain services based on criteria important to you (ease of access, price, already subscribe for other reasons, etc.) and still have plenty of great events to choose from. A sensible way to handle abundance
    .
    In contrast, I constrain to events I enjoy (CFB, UCL/UEL, Liga MX, etc.) and create a basket of services to access what I want. The reverse approach to abundance
    .
    If I understand our similarities and differences, I suspect I may be more likely than you to add or change services when a league moves, while you may be more likely than I to add or change leagues followed as they ebb and flow between services

  47. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 6:39 pm

    @Michael F. Maybe the cable subscribers are exchanging letters and telegrams instead. That is why they appear to be fewer.. 🙂

  48. cmasia

    September 17, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    “Also, there is always the risk of people not switching over from NBCSN to the cable channels”

    What on earth is this guy on about?

    This entire article shed no new light on anything.

    And here is something no one, especially the author, has mentioned.
    The NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB all have multiple partners.
    In the UK, the PL has multiple partners.

    Why not offer a couple of packages with the possibility of additional revenue by splitting the goods?

  49. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    @greg. I completely agree. I said this in another post for the latest podcast article: “It seems with the continual transition of linear to streaming… so many of the EPL audience has been caught in the middle. I know the general US soccer audience is going to streaming, but NBC built their EPL fan base on linear cable over the years. If this was 5 years from now, the decision for EPL to go an all streaming solution in the US would be an easy one.”

    There is a huge audience of cable-like subscribers that NBC has grown and I agree with you, that EPL would be careful not to leave them so abruptly to an all-streaming option. Unless perhaps… that all streaming option is already massively distributed with subs to many households (i.e. Amazon Prime, NetFlix) etc. With American big4 sports and other programming that many still hold onto cable-like subscriptions for, they are not keen to pay for more streaming subscriptions.

    I am with you, that there are a few very vocal anti-cable people here… I am not even sure it’s that many of them, but instead the same ones repeating themselves over and over and over – and they sound like many. . I think this then becomes a site that seems so slanted in an opinion one way, when in fact there is the other side of it. And there no one is right or wrong, but people have preferences and priorities, and that should be respected.

  50. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    @Hans. I just tested. Star+ is offering the Rugby Championship, but it is only in Portuguese.
    They have 2 matches on demand right now (South Africa vs Australia and New Zeland vs Argentina) and 2 being listed as next attractions (Australia vs South Africa 18/9 3:00 pm, Argentina vs New Zeland 18/9 6:00 pm).

  51. José Cerrato

    September 17, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    $2,000 millones por 6 años puede valer el nuevo contrato de la Premier League en EE.UU., qué buen billete.

  52. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    @dave That seems like an uphill battle. That is also likely the play that ESPN wants with LaLiga.
    Between Liga MX, Argentinean, and all Hispanic leagues being broadcasted in Spanish on Fanatiz, there does not seem a lot of space to grow there.

  53. dave

    September 17, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    @Ra asks “Yes, but EPL is not very popular with the Spanish-viewer audience in the US based on what I read. Or do you have data supporting that EPL is popular with this audience as well?”
    .
    I have not seen any data on EPL, though my gut instinct is to agree with you that EPL viewers skew heavily English-speaking
    .
    Back-envelope, if the overall split is 60-40 Spanish and TUDN (which has a bit of English, but is mainly Spanish) has 50% share, then soccer viewed not on TUDN is around 80-20 English. I would guess La Liga, the bits of Liga MX and MLS not on TUDN, and perhaps some South America would be most of that 20
    .
    Of potential interest to the bidding process is “can EPL grow Hispanic viewership?”

  54. greg

    September 17, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    re: the cable v streaming argument…Chris & Kartik have noted that the EPL may well be basing their next US deal on what’s to come in terms of streaming or cable, how to grow an audience and where the audience is now. And maybe that future is streaming. But I think too many folks here are so anti-cable (especially Comcast) that they do only see things from their own perspective and don’t factor in that plenty of people all over who have cable or cable-like services.

    And by cable-like I’m lumping Fubo, Sling, DirectTV et al in with them b/c they’re essentially cable services, just using apps you access via a webpage, Roku, Fire, AppleTv, etc, but otherwise no different. You pay a range of fees for a range of channels. They’re not really cord-cutting, just unbundling ISP provider from TV.

    And when you lump in traditional cable + the Fubo/Youtube/Sling, ATTUverse, DirectTV, etc, I don’t know that audiences are down so much, especially for people who want sports programming for major US pro & college leagues, NASCAR, and EPL. Or want news channels, HGTV, or whatever are traditional cable channels.

    How many people are really pure streaming? Only some mix of ESPN+, Paramount+, Amazon, Netflix, HBO, Hulu but no cable or cable-like services?

    And this is why I think that the EPL will not go with a bidder that doesn’t have either its own OTA & linear cable/cable-like distro and will promise presence there or will sublicense matches to such a company. I don’t see them just writing off that segment of viewers so blithely.

    Even in the UK the primary channel for EPL is Sky, which is a traditional cable-like outfit. BT is also that way…even if they have apps for a Roku or AppleTv. I doubt you pay much less than for service thru a cable provider. Also consider that the EPL is ultimately a conservative organization. And in the UK they are dealing with the fallout from ESL, like the fan-led review and new focus on spreading money more equitably around the league and the pyramid. They won’t allow individual clubs to do exclusive streaming without broad revenue share, and that would reduce the value added for the club. They’re in with Sky, BT & limited Amazon for a while.

    Also, in terms of ratings…I wouldn’t base anything on comparisons to a period from March 2020 to this summer. COVID messed with so many things…attention, budget, time schedules…it’s not a fair comparison. To be fair I think you’d need to look at 2019 to now. A good data project would be to get ratings from a 3-4 year period and track some metrics (Chris & Kartik I’ll send an email about that if you want an article on it…something I’ve been meaning to look into).

    Anyway, the bottom line is you have to consider multiple viewing preferences…range of channels needed, leagues followed, etc and consider the EPL’s political constraints.

  55. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    @dave Yes, but EPL is not very popular with the Spanish-viewer audience in the US based on what I read. Or do you have data supporting that EPL is popular with this audience as well?
    I completely agree with your point on the abundance of content is almost overwhelming. This is a key reason why I can have the luxury of having easy and cheap access to high-caliber content as a must-have to any soccer I watch. The same goes for TV shows and movies.

  56. dave

    September 17, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    @Ra says “The key reason is that the US is anglophone. Pretty obvious, right?”. The data I have seen say this is true for major sports but not for soccer. Soccer minutes viewed in the US are roughly 60% in Spanish. TUDN-family alone are ~50% of soccer-minutes viewed in the US. La Liga is watched mostly in Spanish (bein was ~75% Spanish, I suspect ESPN+ is aiming for the same). Etc.
    .
    @JP says “It’s a great spot to be in with how cheap and abundant the soccer available to us has become” which I find a perfect summary of soccer specifically and entertainment generally. The abundance is almost to the point of overwhelming

  57. JP

    September 17, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    @Mercator, fame league haha, tread carefully lol
    My main point with the transfer talk was the players produce more have an easier time at it when experiencing/leaving Serie A. With true farm leagues, the players take a step down in production when 1st hitting the big leagues. Know you were just joking though

    That’s the danger of wading into these ‘this league is better’ type discussions. All have their plusses and minuses, just depends on what you like.

  58. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    This is great commentary and different strokes for different folks. I can honestly only follow deeply one domestic league at a time. If i had more time, i would deep dive into others but i have to show some balance as a family guy. Lol
    All jokes aside, i appreciate all the euro leagues and the talent out there.

  59. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    Back to Comcast. Data is showing that the EPL audience is actually declining. This is further evidence that Comcast has ridden their strategy as far as they could:
    During the 2020/21 season, the Premier League average 414 thousand viewers on the NBC Sports networks, down 10 percent of the previous season’s figure:
    www statista com/statistics/240891/geograhical-distribution-of-global-premier-league-tv-audience/

  60. Mercator

    September 17, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    @JP – This has always been the (or maybe my) issue with Seria A. Defense is just too good! It’s harder to appreciate on TV I think because you can rarely see the full back line. But the Italians have a reputation for a reason, I completely believe it is harder to score there than England or elsewhere. But from the rest of your post, it seems EPL clubs have found a solid training ground in Seria A clubs, sending talented players over to get minutes and experience, and then bringing them back on high fees once they have been properly developed. In the US, we would call that a farm team… but I wouldn’t dare make such an analogy here lol.

  61. Mercator

    September 17, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    @Ra – I don’t think that is the key reason, although helpful. I know in a smaller non-english speaking European country, the EPL is basically the most watched league now. This is a country with a semi-decent league, and yet in my experience most fans now follow their club, and then the EPL more broadly. I think its a bit of a similar thing in France as well, shocked by how big the EPL is there and it wasn’t like that even 5-6 years ago. Outside of Spanish markets, in my experience the EPL has generally been the most popular (and this is from the last 5-10 years, probably much more popular now). I think it’s about more than the English language. Just about anywhere you go, if you ask people to name the first 10 clubs they can think of, half will be English. Outside of Europe and South America, look at what jerseys you see. It’s top 6 EPL clubs, Madrid, Barca and lately I see much more PSG. That’s about it really.

    A lot of this is marketing and not the standard or quality of the football, but looking at the EPL now, hard to say the football is really better elsewhere. EPL beat everyone to the punch by setting up their own top division, and they beat everyone to the punch by welcoming in Billionaire owners with zero financial restrictions. Part of what keeps the EPL interesting is there is always the possibility of some rich bum buying Newcastle or something and completely flipping the league on its head. It doesn’t get stale, by the time I’m truly sick of a club winning, they are losing. Arsenal haven’t won anything in a long time, it’s actually staggering the club is still as massive as it is. If it were in Ligue 1, BL, etc you would never ever hear about Arsenal anymore. They would be Lyon or PSV at best.

  62. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    @JP. Nah. The EPL managers are just better and get more out of these premium talented players. Lol. Just having fun now.
    Lukaku was only not as prevalent at Man U because Mourinho has been a disaster managing clubs of late. Hope he finds his way in Serie A. He certainly lost it in the EPL. And i take nothing away from what he has accomplished. But he is a grating personality that wears on most and has an ego the size of Asia.

  63. JP

    September 17, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    @MichaelF, funny you mention the transfers btw Serie A and EPL. History bears out that often players who leave Serie A for EPL often have even better production in EPL, almost like it’s easier to score 🙂
    Carlos Tevez said as much

    Ronaldo could barely crack 30 a season in Serie A, bet he approaches 40 this year

    Salah, after being loaned out (from Chelsea) to Fiorentina and then sold to Roma, showed potential and great ability but lacked consistency in finishing until his final season at Roma. Goes to Liverpool and tears it up even more.

    Lukaku, a ‘failure’ at ManU, refines his skills at Inter over a couple years, treated as a conquering hero upon his move to Chelsea

    Tammy Abraham. Can already see he has lots of talent but that finish needs improving. He too will be the next player to return to EPL and put up great stats after perfecting his trade in Serie A.

  64. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    @JP. Good one! Yea… it’s all preference. I happen to like the physicality of the EPL and I believe this season especially, overall play on the pitch has improved. Last season was probably the worst, as VAR was very influential in too many penalty kicks and play stoppages every other minute from what I call soft contact. They are letting a lot more go and it is increasing the intensity and flow of the matches.

  65. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    @JP That is my point. There are all sorts of tastes and it lacks objectivity to decide what is the best league to watch. We can certainly calculate what league has the most expensive players. But the most fun? No. I’ve started watching Eredivisie after reading all your comments, and I am really enjoying it. I already knew Antony as he was a player of my childhood team (he and Casemiro, Militao, Kaka, Lucas Moura, to name a few).
    What is your favorite league today?

  66. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 2:27 pm

    @Michael F. Having some of the best players counts, but it is not the only thing that makes a league enjoyable. There are many other variables.
    One of my favorites things in the Brasileirao coverage (with a different provider) was the ‘Best of the Worst’. The commentator would also make fun when they did something bizarre. Best commentaries ever!

  67. JP

    September 17, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    @MichaelF, @Ra, how dare you say the league you like to watch is better than the league I like to watch!!!! OUTRAGE! I DEMAND VENGEANCE!

    But seriously, EPL was my gateway into European club soccer, before only cared about UCL finals (sometimes), WC, and Euros (so long Italy not eliminated). After getting a taste for other leagues thought, EPL became largely unwatchable to me. No judgement on the quality of players/teams, just the style of play. Appears haphazard and lacking defensive structure/tactics compared to others at times. Not all the clubs, but many. City with Pellegrini as manager was a joy to watch mostly, and Chelsea in years they didn’t hate the manager.

    While that style can be exciting at times I guess, just not my taste.

  68. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    @Ra. Let’s see… Serie A picked up Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud from Chelsea, while Chelsea got Lakaku (easily a priemium striker in today’s game) and Man U got back one of the greatest players to ever play the game in Ronaldo. And btw… take note of how many elite players over the years that get their start and stardom in the English Premier League to admittedly want to go play for Real Madrid eventually.
    I don’t dislike Serie A, I was watching some of it last season and enjoyed it. But I am not too naive to believe that league holds the same swagger as the English Premier League. But again, it’s all preference… or someone who refuses to pay extra for cable and decides to to settle for an alternative. Lol

  69. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    @Michael F. I am waiting to see the comments on the MLS being number 61! 🙂
    Personally, I think it is fair for a league with no relegation.

  70. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    @Ra. Haha. They need to redo their rankings after that last summer transfer window.

  71. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    @Michael F. It sparked and…boom! The key reason is that the US is anglophone. Pretty obvious, right?
    Based on the data it is Serie A – here is the ranking of the Best National Leagues in the World. This is according to IFFHS (International Federation of Football History and Statistics) based in Zurich, CH:
    1) Italy/UEFA (Previous Year 4)
    2) England/UEFA (PY 1)
    3) Brazil/Conmembol (PY 2)
    4) Spain/UEFA (PY 3)
    5) Germany /UEFA (PY 10)

    61) USA/Concafap (PY 66)

  72. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    @Ra. I will add with hope of not sparking a whole new burst of commentary, that although elite players are showcased in all the premium euro domestic leagues as you mentioned, the EPL is well known as the most competitive domestic league of all. And certainly the most popular in the world and in the US. In Bundesliga and Ligue 1, there is never any drama who is going to win the league. In Serie A, only recently has it gotten more interesting now that Juventus has lost its dominance. And can anyone really name 3 players from every club of these other euro leagues I mentioned? In the EPL, players on every club is well known. As Kartik and Christopher Harris stated numerous times on their last podcast, who ever gets the EPL and it’s “game over”… meaning the popularity of this league puts that provider in a indisputable advantage over all the rest. There is a reason for its popularity beyond just the few elite players or clubs compared to the other Euro leagues. It has a certain flavor and appeal like no other.

    You have a good weekend as well.

  73. Hans

    September 17, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    @Bambino Pons esta aqui
    I get the “move” bit but not the “free Urban tool” are you referring to a VPN? If posting a link you can do it the way I did it in my previous post.
    I do know that Rugby is big in Argentina as they are competing in the Rugby Championship.

  74. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    @locofooty. I do not subscribe to any. I tried a couple,
    but they were being blocked. So I deployed my own solution…

  75. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    @locofooty I know that, I just don’t know any free one that is reliable enough to stream something.

  76. locofooty

    September 17, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Ra, VPN services usually let you connect to different IP’s around the world. I don’t know if it will work since there probably is a ESPN/Star+ Spanish/Brazil divide and you mentioning you signed up for the service in Brazil.

  77. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    @Michael F. No, I am certainly not taking it too seriously. I like a lively discussion, especially on a cloudy Fri afternoon.. 🙂
    Enjoy your weekend!

  78. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    @Bambino Can you give more hints on what this free tool is?

  79. Bambino Pons esta aqui

    September 17, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    @Hans:

    You will need to “move” to Argentina in order to get espn.com/watch to display programming for the Argentina market.

    You should know how do “move” to Argentina. Very easy to do using a free “Urban” tool.

  80. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    And btw… I do catch matches from other euro leagues and follow the players you mentioned from time to time. I think you are taking this commentary way too seriously. People have preferences. Don’t take every word stated here as prophesy. Smile.

  81. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    @Ra. This is a tit for tat conversation. Let me rephrase that is of preference that I follow the EPL. I like this league is best over the others. The intimate English match atmosphere and style of play is to my liking. There is nothing to agree or disagree on this topic. It is simply a matter of preference. No one is right or wrong. Same for whether they subscribe to cable or live tv stream or just to streaming services.

  82. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    @Hans I’ll check tonight. I have access to a VPN in Brazil, not Argentina. But I’ll check if they have it on Star+ (ESPN Brasil). They might have it, but I believe that Rugby is more popular in Argentina than in Brazil.

  83. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    @Michael F. I disagree in terms of watching the best. The thing with soccer is that there are great players and great soccer all around the world. I would not praise myself to be ignorant of what happens elsewhere. People that just watch exclusively the EPL just don’t know much about what happens on the global stage.
    I can name a few players that you will think in 1-3 years to be the best – Musiala (Bayern), Vini (Real), Wirtz (Leverkusen), Haaland (Dortmund), Antony (Ajax). And then there are legends, like Lewandowski, Messi, Neymar. What do they have in common? They don’t play in the EPL.
    Take Lukaku for instance, he has been playing in Italy for the last 2 seasons. Just because he moved now to England, apparently some believe he has gotten much better now.

  84. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    @Mercator. You described something similar to my situation. I use u tube tv, but I have my mother in law using a profile name available from it as well to save her over $70 a month. I agree with pretty much everything you said. I am definitely not fond of cable. The same as I am not fond of car dealerships and that industry, but we need a vehicle to drive.

  85. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    @JP. I live a bit of a valley in a village with lots of trees. So OTA is not a given when there is in-climate weather, even when the antenna is strong.
    The Bills are fun to watch again. Been far too long a wait for that too… since the early 90’s super bowl appearances. The Sabres are a disaster, and easily 3 to 5 seasons away from winning IF they start to do things right. That’s not a given with the ownership they have. I know how New Castle United fans feel like.

  86. Hans

    September 17, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    @Ra
    Since you seem to have access to the South American ESPN and I assume via VPN could you do me a favor please.

    The rights for the United Rugby Championship may be with the South American ESPN, so could you please check what Rugby matches are available on the South American streaming service and if there is English commentary with them.
    Last year the Super Rugby Aotearoa was shown with English commentary on:
    www (,) espn (.) com (.) ar/rugby/
    When I go to the site it always opens my US ESPN+ page. Any feedback would be appreciated.

  87. JP

    September 17, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    @MichaelF, the Bills were one of the couple NFL teams who had my interest other than local last year. Very fun to watch.
    Regarding the Sabres, I feel for you, hockey season is a grind when your team has no chance of making the playoffs and prospects for the future look grim. They’ve been rebuilding for what, a decade plus now?
    I have an indoor antenna that gets the channels needed (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, etc). Could get a stronger one for additional signals, but not necessary. Has performed well on some windy/rainy days thus far.
    Paramount+ does stream the games on CBS that would air in your local market. Didn’t know until last week when Bills/Steelers (same 1PM game we would’ve gotten) was on.

  88. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    @Ra. Not sure how many are like you that just moves to another league if one of preference is not available to you readily because you don’t want to pay for a provider you don’t like.
    I am particular in what I want to view. I want to watch the elite players and league(s) entertain me. Life is too short to constantly worry about who is ripping me off a few dollars when I want to watch what I want to watch. . If I wanted to watch any soccer anywhere, I can get in my car and drive to the high school and watch it there. I am being sort of flippant there, but you get the point.

  89. Mercator

    September 17, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    Yea some people are like that, my dad just used to just turn on bein and it was football from somewhere which was good enough. I’m not like that, I will watch what I want to watch. But i think this is generational – younger used to everything on demand older people are happy to have more than 3 channels. It’s also not just sports it’s news. I’m sure we all know one or two weirdos who NEED to watch the latest propaganda on Fox or MSNBC, and that’s only on cable still. I have YouTube TV and it’s mostly for my parents, I wouldn’t have it otherwise. I think that’s a common situation (and that’s what’s keeping me from FUBO, parents demand CNN).

    I think the point Ra is making though is none of us seem to really want cable. We want one specific thing and are forced into a cable subscription to get it. Some people go elsewhere and some pay the price, I don’t think either is wrong. And to Michael Fs point, EVERYTHING is available to stream. The question is whether is available to stream legally. I wouldn’t pay for YTTV without my parents because I can stream cable for $5 bucks, but if that wasn’t the case I probably would be forced to spend an ungodly sum just to watch Arsenal. Glad those days are over. Cable was a necessary evil and frankly not really necessary anymore.

  90. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    @JP. Actually, what you just stated, is true for me too. If it wasn’t for our Buffalo Bills, I wouldn’t even follow the NFL any longer. And the NHL Buffalo Sabres have been a joke for years, and that’s hard since I do enjoy hockey, but I’m not at all fond of the NHL as a league.
    I am following EPL and soccer primarily now than all other sports, Funny thing, is my son got me into it when he was a teenager and now I watch it every week.
    I do like to watch the big4 playoffs and some college sports that is not available to stream.
    One note about OTA. I have a very powerful roof antenna that reaches stations in Toronto that is 120 miles away. However, OTA is not always reliable. On a windy day, even local stations out of Buffalo will cause digital pixelation that makes it unwatchable on a Sunday trying to catch the Bills game. And now, NFL is showing AFC games on both CBS and Fox, so it’s not readily available to stream on their services too easily. But there are other reasons I have a live tv stream service (u tube tv) to justify having it. I have always said… If I use it, I don’t mind paying for it. When the day comes I don’t readily use it (and that day may come at some point)… I could easily cancel it.

  91. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    @Michael F. My intention was not to offend anyone here, but this is how I personally feel with the things I watch. I am willing to change leagues to match convenience. My only must-have is UCL, and even that, I did not watch it for several years when I did not find the distribution convenient.
    The same goes for EPL, if NBC renews and keeps their policy, I will watch another league instead. Period. Paramount alone has 2,000+ soccer matches per year. ESPN+ must have at least the same.

  92. Nosferatu

    September 17, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    Michael F hits on one part of my reasoning to stay with cable, despite all the obvious issues. The other half is DVR service. I DVR almost everything that I and my wife watch, and we save ourselves countless hours a week fast-forwarding through commercials.

    Of course services like YouTube TV and Fubo now offer DVR-like services as well, but for my wants, Fubo is the only one that would work in terms of the local RSNs I’d want. And everything I’ve read indicates that their DVR service is still pretty inferior and problematic compared to what I’m used to (plus for the package I’d want, the savings wouldn’t end up being all that significant compared to cable).

  93. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 11:51 am

    @Ra. So you are calling those that have any kind of a cable package to watch certain content (like their local NHL or MLB or NBA team) a clown? Be careful. You might upset some here. Smile.
    Btw… not all is available OTA. JP also mentioned playoffs of Big4 are not at all available via OTA. And most certainly not local NHL or NBA or MLB teams. Goes to show you are not thinking of everything and only what suits you and your perspective.

  94. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 11:51 am

    @Michael F. I will give you that – if I was ever to subscribe to cable, I’d get YouTube TV. Their DVR capabilities are the best in the industry.
    But the Disney combo + Paramount+ + HBO Max has more high-quality content that I can ever watch.
    News = Paramount, Movies & TV shows = HBO Max, Docs = Paramount + Disney.

  95. JP

    September 17, 2021 at 11:25 am

    @MichealF, you are 100% correct about needing cable or an over the top cable like service if you follow the big 4 and/or college sports.

    As I’ve gotten older many of these have lost my interest, while soccer has replaced. But even I will likely need Sling for a couple months in this Spring for NHL playoffs…….holding out hope ESPN3/ESPN+ and HBO Max might show them, but expect them to be ESPN/ESPN2 and TNT/TBS only.

    But the rest are largely off my radar, even NFL down to just my local team and playoffs only if the matchup interests me. No longer a slave to all things football.
    It’s a great spot to be in with how cheap and abundant the soccer available to us has become.

  96. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 11:21 am

    @Michael F. On the contrary, I keep demanding fair and easy access to things. I would stop watching any sports that treated me like a clown. Period.
    Most of what you mentioned is free OTA. I found this interesting definition on wikipedia:
    “Stockholm syndrome is a condition in which hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors during captivity.[1] Stockholm Syndrome results from a rather specific set of circumstances, namely the power imbalances contained in hostage-taking, kidnapping, and abusive relationships.”

  97. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 11:20 am

    @Ra. I have checked the HBO/Max library as my son picked it up. I will tell you the library of TCM classic movies is nice, but it doesn’t even touch the depth of movies shown 24/7 on the TCM channel via cable or live tv stream service. I have literally more than 3,000 movies in my DVR queue that I can watch that was aired on TCM. Smile.

  98. locofooty

    September 17, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Yeap, american sports (or shall I say ESPN?) the only thing that’s keeping cable/sat afloat. Every other type of good entertainment and even news is available through streaming services, next day, youtube, or other means.

  99. Michael F

    September 17, 2021 at 11:08 am

    @Ra. We do live in America. And if you’re a sports fan, most Americans follow the big4 and also watch some soccer. You asked why people care about cable or a live tv stream service that provides linear cable networks… it’s because people follow their big4 local pro and college sports teams that cannot be watched via streaming. Only out-of-market games are available for NFL ticket, NHL Center Ice or via ESPN+ now, MLB tv or NBA etc etc.
    you should know this and I am sure you do. You are simply looking at this always s from your own perspective. I am not backing cable conglomerates or anything like that, but to continue making statements like you have “why do people care about cable?” Is just plain silly.

  100. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 11:06 am

    @Michael F. We were talking about HBO Max the other day. They are now offering 50% off for 6mo for a limited time (because they are out of amazon channels). It is a good opportunity to check their TCM library, Their TV shows and movies are unparalleled as well.

  101. greg

    September 17, 2021 at 10:31 am

    Amazon may offer the EPL in the UK for no extra cost beyond a Prime sub , but it’s worth noting that in France Amazon, which is now the leading carrier, requires an extra €12.99 ($15) a month. So there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t do a surcharge to Prime customers in the US, depending on what they pay in rights.

  102. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Why do people care about cable? Is it because of ‘Real Housewives’ or Tucker Carlson? I just don’t get it. 🙂

  103. Stevek

    September 17, 2021 at 10:01 am

    But to me that’s not recognizing “power,” Ra, it’s hedging your bets.

  104. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 9:52 am

    @Stevek Or quite the opposite. They believe it is so important to go to streaming and be on Amazon’s platform that they are willing to take a hit.

  105. Stevek

    September 17, 2021 at 9:44 am

    “The Premier League recognizes the power of streaming in the UK market”

    Amazon pays 20 million pounds for their 20 matches
    Comcast pays 1.2 billion pounds for their 128 matches
    Do the math. I’d suggest the PL still recognizes the power of a cable company writing a very large check.

  106. JP

    September 17, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Kartik, you write “In recent years, the broadcasting of soccer leagues has shifted from linear television to streaming services. This trend – best exhibited by the trendsetting Bundesliga followed by LaLiga –…..”
    Completely unmentioned is Serie A was 2 years ahead of the ‘trendsetting’ Bundesliga in this regard in 2018! Yes there was the one token match a week exclusive to cable, but Serie A was the 1st major domestic league to go primarily streaming. Even got this luddite (pointing at myself) to dabble in streaming for the 1st time to the point now where I’m almost streaming only.

    Otherwise, fine article, just couldn’t let the revisionist history go by without a word.

  107. Ra

    September 17, 2021 at 9:11 am

    @Kartik Good article; I agree with all the points. Some additional considerations:
    1-) EPL is probably the only league (and the UCL also) that makes sense as a stand-alone soccer property. It has the critical mass to have people subscribe to the service because of it. EPL alone can make an attractive product for a soccer audience.
    2-) I think that people are overestimating the contribution of cable. A nice landing page on Prime Video and in all fire sticks might bring more casual viewers than what they are currently getting. (That is how I watched my only couple of NFL games last year – I have OTA, but would not bother myself). The marketing strength of Prime Video and Apple is unparalled in the industry today. Only Disney can match (and potentially surpass it).
    3-) Most streaming services need to have a year-round property to keep people engaged, otherwise people will churn through services once they catch up with a particular content. Sports can provide that, soccer in particular with its almost year-round season.
    3-) Right now EPL is a follower in the streaming game. The audience and soccer in particular are moving fast to streaming. They might lose a substantial market (I for instance will watch Bundesliga and LaLiga, UCL and Brasileirao, but will not subscribe to a decadent service like Peacock).
    4-) I was closely following the roll-out of Star+ in Brazil (and got myself a trial). ESPN has just acquired the EPL rights there after 10 years, and it is predominantly streaming play. The big games are streaming exclusive (e.g.: CR7’s debut). Cable subscribers were very upset, but Disney delivered the message. If you want the latest and greatest, you need to subscribe to Star+. They are offering all their properties there (EPL, Serie A, LaLiga, Eredivisie, Jupiler, MotoGP, MLS, NFL, NBA, MLB – the whole pack). Disney has a very clear vision. They will likely put all the EPL on streaming should they acquire it.
    For me in particular, it would be brilliant if Prime Video got the rights. I would finally find a use for the Prime Video button in my fire stick, would not spend any additional $s, and it would be money better invested than sending a polluting dick into space.
    Also, I don’t see Comcast being able to do more than they already have. They would need to do a concerted effort in streaming to do better, which I can’t see them do. They clearly lack strategy and vision (Bloomberg recently reported on “Comcast Will Spend Billions on Peacock. Now It Needs a Strategy.” )

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