That BT won some of the rights for the Premier League might have been a bit of a surprise (albeit not a total one), but that it wasn’t a traditional broadcaster should have been expected.
At the start of the year, I wrote for both When Saturday Comes and Pitch Invasion that it made a lot of sense to hear both Apple and Google’s names linked with the Premier League rights, and how we should expect the nature of sports broadcasting to change significantly with technological developments over the coming years.
Companies such as BT, Apple, Google and others of a similar ilk realise that, as ever, content is king and if they provide the distribution platform or devices to watch it on, then they may as well consider the distribution method for these platforms.
Apple’s iTunes store did this for music. There’s still no TV (yet) but it’s not hard to envisage similar for broadcasting. And then Google TV already has the app store, which, in my mind, will play a large part in how we’ll consume television.
So, yes, back to the football. Just as Sky’s main business is to sell boxes, so BT’s will be to sell its superfast broadband and football will be a key way of doing this.
BT’s commitment to make the games available on as many platforms as possible is an interesting one. The assumption would be this means Sky (as rather uneasy bedfellows), Virgin, BT Vision and Freeview, but it will be fascinating to see what online opportunities this brings, along with online and tablet developments.
Put simply, the technology and delivery methods around watching the Premier League will be changing and BT represents an interesting halfway house between a traditional media company and a tech company. If other players like Google and Apple like what they see, the next round of negotiations could be very interesting indeed.
Will BT even be holding the rights come the next end of bidding? We’ve already seen Disney-owned ESPN – a more traditional broadcaster that did (in my view) an excellent job – outbid. What BT does wil the rights and any developments they make will be fascinating to watch. Assuming any are made, of course.
Oh, and the money bid and the effect this will have on football? £3bn is a lot of cash – some may include the verb ridiculous before lot – especially in the current economic climate. Just as the technology is moving towards a virtual world, so the £3bn may make football even more detached from reality.