An advertising hoarding promotes Amazon Prime's live Premier League TV coverage

We love an Amazon round of live Premier League TV – and it makes Sky and BT look like dusty relics

On Sunday afternoon, Arsenal cemented their grip on top spot in the Premier League with a tense and often bizarre 1-0 win at Leeds, a game in which the leaders came under immense pressure but held firm as Leeds missed a penalty, and loads of other chances, before having a penalty given and taken away again in stoppage time.

It was, obviously, a hugely significant game in the early stages of the Premier League title race. Elsewhere, Manchester United put their improving form on the line against Newcastle, who themselves are starting to hit their stride after spending all that lovely, lovely money.

Couple of quite big games featuring four well-supported clubs and with plenty riding on the outcomes.

And if you live in the UK, it doesn’t matter how much money you pay to various TV subscription services; if you didn’t have a ticket to the game, you couldn’t watch them. Not legally, anyway.

In 2022 that’s…well that’s just mental, isn’t it?

We are long-established fans of Sky Sports’ football broadcasting, which isn’t as good as their cricket but that’s because Sky Sports’ cricket coverage is the best sports broadcasting ever made, and we’re tolerators of BT Sport’s improving coverage of European nights in particular. So this isn’t really having a go at them as such. It’s more an observation that this is just an increasingly bizarre anachronism in the media environment that exists nearly a quarter of a way into the 21st century.

It’s obviously not the first time this has been raised. As someone who is frequently wrong about everything and has long since ceased being surprised when that wrongness is exposed, I remain nevertheless genuinely astonished that the Covid-era broadcasting of all Premier League football did not become the norm.

That felt like a Rubicon crossed, and I can’t quite believe everyone has immediately gone back to settling for less. But here we are.

This is all brought to a head this week, because this midweek round of Premier League game is one of Amazon’s occasional weeks. We bloody love Amazon Premier League weeks, and this is not an advert. It might only be a couple of weeks a season, but they do pull out all the stops, with top presenters and excellent commentary teams.

But more importantly, all the games. You can watch whichever game you want. It’s a shame that Arsenal’s table-topper against Manchester City is off the schedule this week, but that’s outside Amazon’s control and doesn’t leave us short. United v Spurs at Old Trafford is an obvious doozy, and there are interesting games across the rest of the schedule. But the main point is that you can decide to watch whichever game you want over the next three nights or dip in and out. Liverpool against West Ham getting tasty? Stick that on for a bit. Brentford into an early lead against Chelsea? Twenty minutes of that, please. And so on.

It really shouldn’t be a novelty to be able to enjoy the Premier League like this given the money we all spend on TV subscriptions for a service that is wildly incomplete.

We’d like to think that this is a week that brings it to a head. The weekend’s schedule was a markedly daft one, with all three of the Thursday night clubs overlooked for TV coverage on the Sunday. That left us with just two 3pm Saturday games and four games kicking off at 2pm on Sunday, with Sky Sports having selected the dullest-looking of the four for Super Sunday treatment.

It means that this time, Amazon’s moment in the spotlight comes after a weekend where not even the separate arguments about the merits or otherwise of the 3pm Blackout are much of a factor. There was still no real valid reason why subscribers who cough up increasingly hard-to-justify fortunes for their various TV subscriptions had only Villa v Chelsea to sustain them before Liverpool v Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.

The plight of match-going fans is often discussed and it’s clearly a problem that must be addressed. TV’s desire for certain fixtures at certain times shouldn’t be justification enough for fans to be left physically unable to get transport to or from games.

But this argument is often framed as between match-going (often specifically cited as ‘real’ or ‘proper’ fans) and those watching on TV (‘armchair’ – for which read lesser – supporters). But that’s not really it at all. It’s all fans versus the TV companies. Let’s not pretend that the lack of live coverage for all games has anything to do with match-going fans, who have long been way down the list of priorities for all concerned.

It’s all fans who have lost out due to what is disingenuously described as the ‘greater choice’ of having more than one broadcaster showing live coverage of Premier League games. ‘Greater choice’ just means you have to pay multiple subscriptions to cover what you used to get with one.

At least with Amazon’s introduction to the market in recent years there came something different. It is – at least for as long as it remains a relatively rare novelty – an inexpensive option that provides something markedly different to the established broadcasters.

Sky Sports have set a high standard for sports broadcasting, but BT have shown no ambition beyond trying to be a slightly less good version of that. Amazon’s all games on-demand vision might only be a full option under current rules on rare Premier League midweek programmes or during the Busy Festive Schedule, but it’s still offering punters something different and something more.

And the quirk of their midweek landing after the most egregiously inadequate weekend of live coverage of the season should be a massive boon for the Amazon way, which is so obviously the future of live Premier League TV coverage. The only real doubt is whether it is existing broadcasters who deliver that future or it ends up being brought in house.

But the days of having to resort to illegal streams to watch Arsenal or Manchester United play – on Sunday afternoons at the very least – are surely on the way out.

Big Midweek: Man Utd v Spurs, Villa, Brendan, Darwin Nunez, Arsenal

#love #Amazon #live #Premier #League #Sky #dusty #relics

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