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FOOTBALL ON TV: What should happen after Covid?


When the coronavirus pandemic stopped fans from being able to attend games, plans were made to make all football matches available on TV.

The law which prevented broadcasters from showing live football at 3pm on Saturday afternoons was temporarily scrapped to help fans see their club in action on television.

To protect attendances at football games, the 3pm blackout was introduced. The idea was it would stop fans from avoiding going to grounds to instead watch at home.

That law was implemented in the 1960s with Burnley one of the leading clubs pushing for it to be introduced.

Stadiums weren't as packed as they were before Covid-19 impacted the United Kingdom, with attendances at that time suffering.

Clubs like Liverpool are now at the forefront of discussions to change the way football is broadcast in this country.

Major American sports leagues such as the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) have successful applications which show out-of-market games.

They'll charge a yearly fee for fans to watch games that aren't being broadcast on television.

If a game is being shown by a broadcaster, the app will "blackout" that game to subscribers.


Football on TV and its impact on attendances


In the last full season with fans allowed, all Premier League clubs on average almost sold out their stadiums for games across the entire season.

Yet it wasn't always that way and attendances were once a problem for teams across the country.

Potentially getting rid of the 3pm blackout permanently could open the door to a Premier League streaming service in the UK.

Cameras are already at games kicking off at this time and shown worldwide so it wouldn't cost much more.

It could be another revenue stream for the Premier League to take advantage of. They would need to be wary of the impact on their current broadcasters, though.

Would Sky, BT, Amazon Prime and BBC Sport be happy with the league broadcasting out-of-market fixtures on it's own platform?

Is that going to be accessible for fans who are already forking out large sums of money to watch Premier League games?


The wider impact of more football on TV


The impact could also stretch down to lower league and non-league clubs.

How will attendances at their games hold their own if games at 3pm are being televised?

A non-league club that get a couple of hundred people attending their matches might see that number dwindle if their game has Premier League competition.

These clubs need that money to sustain and survive as an entity.

One idea would be to stagger kick-off times across the country, so non-league kick off earlier than the Premier League.

Non-league games could begin at 11am, League Two at 12pm and League One at 1pm. The Championship could kick-off at 2pm and finally the Premier League at 3pm.

Obviously, broadcasters will still have their timeslots so it isn't a foolproof system. However, this staggering would mean fewer clashes.

It would likely give more opportunity for fans to attend non-league games and also watch the Premier League football on TV.

Whatever happens, the 3pm blackout seems to be a thing of the past, but what comes next is still unknown.

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