The Future Of Sports Broadcasting

The Future Of Sports Broadcasting

On Saturday, 10 October 2009, a ground breaking event will take place in the world of football and internet broadcasting. Ukraine will play host to England in a FIFA world cup football qualifier, a match that signals the first but certainly not the last time that a sporting event of such prestige is to be broadcast via internet only.

A particular set of circumstances has led to this event coming to be available over the web only. As it were, Setanta, the Irish TV broadcaster who in 2009 declared bankruptcy, originally owned the broadcast rights to the game. With Setanta’s demise, the Ukrainian football association were unable to find an alternative broadcaster willing to purchase the TV broadcast rights. Therefore, taking an alternative route to monetize the game, they have decided to make it available over the net.

So what does this mean for televised sport in general? For one thing, this could very well signal the beginning of a new trend in the arena of sporting event rights: the internet only broadcast. Can an internet broadcaster go it alone and utilise a medium where viewers are still accustomed to accessing content for free? By the advance sale of viewing spots for this game , the answer is a resounding yes.

And if this event were to pass off without a hitch, it will lay the foundation for a plethora of events to follow. Of course television rights inject cash into a huge number of sporting competitions, but what is happening in today’s digital age is that more and more non official viewing links are appearing on the internet. If internet broadcast streams were to be made official and monetized, then revenue can remain within the sporting circles, thereby sustaining it.

Internet broadcasts are not yet mature enough to replace TV broadcasts, and not by a long shot. Various issues such as bandwidth availability, advertising and educating users in web technology are influencing factors. However, one can envisage that if broadcasters were to offer reliable and affordable pay per view services in the same way that iTunes has legalised a large portion of music downloads, then it is a good bet that we will see more and more events, which are normally associated with TV, embracing the internet and the fast growing online demographic.

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