AMAZON began their coverage of Premier League games in England with the reigning Champions Manchester City triumph 4-1 to Burnley at Turf Moor. The game won’t be remembered in years to come as for Gabriel Jesus double but instead for the new era of broadcasting. This new streaming service will no doubt capture the imagination of the executives and hopefully those at Celtic see the opportunities that Amazon’s foray into the broadcasting sphere could mean for the Scottish Champions and the Scottish game generally.
— Scott (@SDF1872) December 3, 2019
Firstly, the option that Amazon have included creates a more interactive option for supporters at home. They can turn the commentary down or even off and the stadium atmosphere can be turned up. This monumental change gives more power to the supporters to mute the controversial, mundane or even annoying commentators that sometimes we are subjected to.
This would have been particularly handy on Sunday during Sky Sports’ coverage of Celtic’s 4-1 win over Ross County whereby Andy Walker struggled to comprehend the offside rule.
Sky and BT will be worried that this is the way that football is changing and will be attempting to show that their coverage is worth the fortune that fans shell out on a monthly basis. The possible benefit that this could bring for the average fan is that the standard of broadcasting from Sky, who will be taking on the Scottish Football deal from next season, could increase drastically to keep their business. Eilidh Barbour has been a big change but she has come from BT Sport, who’s interest in the Scottish game is infectious with a sensible mix of partisan and neutral pundits that deliver a comprehensive coverage of the Scottish game.
BT Sport and Sunset Vine have been a welcome addition to Scottish football but they will bow out at the end of this season, meaning we will only see their coverage of Celtic in Europe.
The new media shift could be an opportunity for Celtic and Scottish Football in general to choose a new narrative, instead of the negativity of Boyd, Commons, Nicholas and Walker they could choose those that promote the game – a Si Ferry, Chris Sutton, Darrell Currie or Ally McCoist.
Here is what a few other supporters had to say about the Amazon coverage.
Amazon did a cracking job with the football tonight, plus the features you get aswell are a game changer. Hopefully Amazon get more games so we don't have to pay BT and Sky Sports stupid prices anymore. #AmazonPrimeVideo
— Ricky Halpin (@RicHalpin) December 3, 2019
Absolute brilliance from Amazon. By next season they will have wiped the floor with BT Sport and Sky Sports.
— Marc Taylor (@Marc_P_Taylor) December 3, 2019
Being able to watch the game without commentary and just crowd noise and stadium effects is a great idea by amazon.. I'd love that for sky sports but no way they'd ever give you that option
— AFI (@MasalaPapi) December 3, 2019
It is clear to see that some are loving this new wave of broadcasting. Although there were some in the English game that complained that kick-off times were now available to the highest bidder and fans were no longer as important as TV revenue – which in England is true. However, Scotland’s attendance per capita is impressive regardless of the minimal TV revenue that clubs receive. In an ideal world, the Scottish game maximise their TV revenue by marketing their game to the world, the fierce derbies, the history and the future. The MLS do it impressively, why can’t Scotland?
Another potential avenue that the teams could be looking to was suggested by former Crystal Palace owner, Simon Jordan, that the leagues could split from traditional broadcasters and set themselves down a new path, where they are the masters of the content. This could very well be dependent upon Amazon, who see profitability at the heart of what they do, in order to do that they need an audience, which football has.
“I think the Premier League should become their own broadcaster.” 🎥
“People are churning off Sky and BT, they don’t want to pay £80 a month.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) December 1, 2019
Furthermore, there has to be someone at Celtic in the corridors of power considering the prospect of a Celtic TV style pay-per-view for matches. Celtic have spent a lot of money on blocking illegal streams from their site but could potentially see a huge financial gain in embracing and welcoming the change in broadcasting and being at the forefront of it.
Comparatively, Burnley and Watford have a sub 21,000 average attendance, whilst Bournemouth have below 12k every second week to the South Coast. Celtic sit on average 57,778 through the gates; yet these teams ALL took home more than £100 million in terms of prize money for 2017/18. This figure verges upon disgusting for teams of this size and profile. Geography is the only thing that the three of them have going for them. Granted each have impressive players on their books and this isn’t an attempt to ridicule the teams, it isn’t their fault they have struck gold. Instead, Celtic should be initiating the move by Scottish football to seek pastures new in terms of broadcasting.
Celtic have a worldwide reach and whilst their online channel provides good content, in terms of games it is a lot of fans that can’t make games that try and use the illegal streams. Dwindling attendances is the fear; however with 9 and a potential 10 in a row on hand, a waiting list for season tickets then Celtic can afford to test this new market. If they are concerned over these fair-weather fans, Celtic could limit the amount of e-tickets for games that they sell their own coverage for.
The game is changing, clubs and broadcasters have to change and become more adaptable and innovative to keep fans, who are swamped with choice entertained. Celtic could be at the forefront of those that pioneer into the new footballing age and they should do their upmost to do so.