Could Twitter Revolutionize Premier League Streaming?
Premier League clubs and executives are continually exploring ways to maximize their global audience and fanbase. While a team’s stadium may only be able to welcome 50,000 people, millions more will be wanting to follow their club. Streaming via television broadcasters is not always a viable option, given that these channels are often hidden within subscription services. This leaves Twitter as many people’s default means of following a match; could the social media platform capitalize on this to become the premier streaming service for the Premier League?
There is evidence that the streaming landscape is set to change in the next few years. In the UK, Amazon Prime have broken the duopoly of Sky and BT to show 20 Premier League matches each season. If streaming services begin to share the competition in the UK and chip away at its overall domestic audience, clubs may decide to take control of the streaming themselves. While money is crucial to these elite clubs, they are nothing without their fans.
This includes overseas fans, with the American market long perceived as pivotal to the sustained global popularity of the Premier League. American fans feel more connected to English clubs than ever. Premier League on NBC regularly brings the best of the English league to an American audience, while NBC have announced that their Premier League Pass for this season will incorporate popular British shows Soccer Saturday and Goals on Sunday.
Developing a connection with the Premier League is also assisted by the growth of US sports betting. Punters in New Jersey have a wide variety of sportsbooks that allow them to bet on Premier League markets, with many of these bookmakers allowing PayPal transactions for a more efficient consumer experience. In terms of broadcast television and betting, the Premier League is gaining a firmer foothold in the American market. However, the competition prides itself on its global appeal. A streaming platform that can reach the whole world would give the league unprecedented popularity.
The most common denominator between football fans across the world is Twitter. A look at the Premier League’s top six clubs’ Twitter accounts demonstrates just how significant their audiences are:
Manchester City – 7.1 million followers
Liverpool – 12.2 million followers
Chelsea – 13.1 million followers
Spurs – 3.6 million followers
Arsenal – 14.7 million followers
Manchester United – 19.9 million followers
Clubs already post immediate updates on matches, which followers can respond to instantly. The natural progression from this would be live streams of the games, with fans across the world feeling united in being able to see and comment on action at the same time. Some broadcasters already post match highlights minutes after events happen, so live streaming of entire matches is the only way to shrink the gap between clubs and fans on Twitter.
Twitter already has a precedent for live streaming, with over 2 million viewers tuning in for the debut stream of NFL’s Thursday Night Football in 2016. More significantly, last year Twitter, announced that they had taken over from Facebook to broadcast over 25 live MLS matches. A lot will need to happen before Twitter can stream a live Premier League match, but it does seem like a natural evolution of the platform. If the elite clubs decide it is in their best interests to stream to a global audience in real-time, then Twitter would be the ideal platform.