by George Willoughby
Sky, for the first time this season, uploaded bitesize Premier League highlights onto their YouTube channel, marking a change in the company’s football coverage.
It was announced back in June that Sky would be uploading highlights of the latest Premier League action via YouTube. This would be the first time during Sky’s coverage of the English top-flight that non-paying customers had the opportunity to watch their favourite teams without paying a fee.
On the opening weekend of Premier League fixtures, highlights of the action were released onto YouTube within minutes of the game concluding. Those experienced using YouTube will know just how easy and practical it is to catch up on sporting events.
Rivals BT Sport have been using the online medium for boxing, MMA, speedway as well as football highlights. BT focuses on the speed of the upload from the event finishing which sporting fans appreciate if they are unable to watch the action live.
One of the most recent examples was the highlights of Manchester City’s 5-0 victory over West Ham United which was uploaded on YouTube shortly after the final whistle. The three-minute video has amassed a view count of over 175,000, comfortably being the most-watched video in the past few days.
Sky is somewhat following in BT’s footsteps with their new coverage of the Premier League. Videos such as post-match interviews with managers, players and of course shortened highlights of the match itself showcase their efforts to adapt to the ever-changing online broadcast model. YouTube is a free application and has become a very popular way of watching a variety of videos. In 2019, the number of YouTube viewers worldwide reached 1.68 billion, according to Statista.
This was an untapped viewing platform which Sky have now transitioned over to.
Last weekend was the starting point for Sky’s latest broadcasting venture, but what impact will this have on BBC’s Match of the Day?
For generations, Match of the Day has been a hallmark show for the BBC. Currently hosted by former professional footballer Gary Lineker, the programme has a rich history consisting of high-quality commentary through an expert panel of pundits. But, many see it as more than just a football show. Match of the Day has been running since its first edition in 1964, with its traditional Saturday evening slot becoming a part of everyday lives for football fans.
However, the aforementioned BT Sport, and now Sky, have taken their football highlights online, meaning viewers can watch replays of goals and press conferences before Match of the Day aires.
Those with access to YouTube may watch the initial highlights and still tune in to Match of the Day later in the day, but, some may not see the value of watching game recaps more than once.
Speaking back in July after the proposed plans by Sky, a BBC spokesman stated: “Match of the Day remains the most-watched football programme in the UK with over seven-million viewers across the weekend. We look forward to its return on August 10.”
Not worried about the potential impact of Sky, Match of the Day will continue as usual, yet there is no doubting that the decision to use YouTube as a medium for football highlights poses a fascinating period in broadcasting.
Further changes are expected with Amazon Prime becoming the latest establishment to purchase a Premier League TV package. Amazon obtained the rights to games in the build-up to Christmas, and also the round of fixtures on Boxing Day. It is still unclear as to how Amazon will broadcast the action, with it being uncharted territory not having either BT or Sky being the main service providers.
Without a doubt, the state of football broadcasting is undergoing a period of change.
On one hand, Sky is trying to embrace the opportunities online platforms such as YouTube provide, whereas the BBC’s Match of the Day seeks to prolong the traditionalistic style of football highlights. What the future holds is unclear, given that it is early stages in Sky’s utilisation of YouTube. Only time will tell whether Match of the Day will be able to remain as the most popular source of post-match coverage.
One thing is for sure, the competition for TV broadcasting rights in the UK will only increase the lucrative nature of the Premier League.