What could be more convenient than hunching antisocially over your laptop, face illuminated by the glow of watching live streaming football, while flicking between tabs on your browser any time the action becomes less appealing than checking email? And, should you feel really technically savvy, nostalgic viewing through your TV can be restored by hooking up the pipes of the interweb directly, just in case the letterbox sized laptop viewing was making your eye's wince a little too much.
Following Setanta's woeful demise a few months back, the rights for the Ukraine v England game landed back in the original holders lap, Kentaro, which commissioned Internet broadcaster, Perform, an impromptu opportunity to show the first live streaming of an England match via the web. Kentaro had listened to a last ditch "competitive" £1m effort from the BBC, but ultimately decided this offer fell way short of their £3m valuation.
Whether Kentaro's value was way too optimistic for a game that held about as much weight to it as the ailing England World Cup 2018 bid, or whether the BBC's offer was far too scrooge like, matters little as ultimately, and predictably, the cost was levied at the door of the supporter. How reassuringly corporate. Had the fixture been critical to England's qualification hopes, as penultimate fixtures in Eastern Europe so often have been in the past, I am sure the BBC, or someone with more clout would have stepped up and tabled a bid that would have satisfied Kentaro coffers.
While this may have been the first legal streaming of Football of any kind, using the Internet as a platform to broadcast live sports, the technical glimpse of the future has been going on for some time, albeit illegally through self broadcasting sites such as Justin.tv. I discovered the site little over a year a go when a friend asked if I was watching Rangers v Liverpool in a preseason friendly, which I abruptly answered with a scoff. About 30 seconds later, dumbfounded and scoff retracted, I was watching the game, which, to top it off Liverpool won handsomely 4-0, if I recall -at Ibrox!
I had very little motivation to shell out the £11.99 to watch the game, and had I not been preoccupied with higher priority tasks such as laundry, I would probably have turned to justin.tv anyway. I can not remember the last time I had the arrogance and luxury to be more interested in domestic chores than World Cup Qualifiers.
Kentaro's price point was out of sink with the true value of the match. They clearly saw an opportunity and took advantage, but in terms of future games, the prices will have to come down, offer more than one game, or be an actual game with bigger enough importance to warrant the lofty price tag. Supporters already have to pay through the noses, so heading down a pay for view model will test even the most hardened football addict. Besides, given the apparent success of the experiment, I would be amazed if more traditional media conglomerates such as BskyB, are not already working on the ability to broadcast matches via the web, if not they should be. I'm sure within 10 years time, and I hope sooner, at least having the option to view matches via the web will be common place.
What ever the long term future of Kentaro, I hope it will help spark some competition in a market that is dominated by Murdoch's empire, and therefore promote some creativity and innovation. This is possibly verging on the ridiculously optimistic, even for me, but this could ultimately be good for supporters if healthy competition can force prices down to a more tolerant level. Although, how we would then insure every Football gets a free DB7 with every signing on fee.
For now I will make do with BBC highlights accompanied by Mark Bright sounding more like an early morning TV presenter than commentator, with his stand out quote being, "oh the ref's played on their, when Heskey's got one in the face." If I don't hear Mark Bright "tut tut" until the next time an England match is on the Internet, it will be too soon.
In terms of the actual Football, I'm not sure what all the fuss about Rio is? OK, he was napping half the time, and was the cause of the early sending off such was his narcolepsy, but in general, the entire back line looked edgy, especially Ashley Cole.
England may have lost their 100% record, but I think the defeat could actually do some good, keeping English feet firmly on the South African soil. Our arrogance and self entitlement was already becoming unbearable, so being knocked down a bed or two will be a good lesson. Who needs another Adam Crozier "Golden Generation" label with a World Cup Finals on the horizon?
For anyone who missed the highlights, here they are brought to you without the aid of Cable TV, digital or satellite........100% Internet.
Ukraine v England
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