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FILM & TV

English Premier League to get Netflix-style service

Words by Nathan Irvine

... but it will need extra time.

It’s hard to muster an ounce of excitement when you hear something described as the “Netflix of… <insert genre>”. The phrase has been overused to describe just about anything that offers an on-demand streaming service. And the sound of it is often met with an eye roll. However, when we heard the English Premier League was set to pull one out of its kitbag, we got excited.

The EPL’s chief executive, Richard Masters, recently confirmed that the organisation has spent considerable funds on “direct to consumer” delivery. This means setting up a stand-alone service, charging a monthly/annual subscription and showing live games. If it all works out, the EPL could make up to eight times the amount of cash it currently does through rights agreements.

“Could” is the important word here though. While the idea of getting access to any English Premier League game whenever we want, plus a wealth of net-busting content from the archives, the EPL is unlikely to walk away from guaranteed cash just yet.

Building a team

For starters, Netflix has honed its skill for years and is rightfully at the top of the heap thanks to a careful strategy. It didn’t just start churning out Oscar nominated content like The Irishman from the get-go. It honed its craft and built an empire.

The EPL is a different beast. It'll need to make money immediately. So lots of research, testing and logistics will need to take place before its version kicks off.

But in the long-term future, we can absolutely see Premier League football getting the on-demand treatment. Amazon Prime is already broadcasting games, and this is surely a calculated move by the EPL to see how high the demand is on an established platform.

Obviously, it will have a knock-on effect with the current rights holders that pay millions just to show the odd Burnley vs. Norwich snoozefest. But a dedicated service is an attractive prospect. Just think, it’d be cheaper than a TV package bundle and won’t be padded out with sports you’ve never heard of. We don’t know when it will happen, but if the Netflix of football ever becomes a reality, we’ll have our virtual season ticket money ready.

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