Our annual sports workshop was held last Friday. Among the very interesting papers was a presentation by Babatunde Buraimo about Premier League viewership figures over the course of the past five seasons. The data suggested that the number of those watching live games on subscription television is in decline. This piece here supports this view and claims the fall-off in demand is worrying.
A number of very interesting issues were addressed during the course of the presentation. Firstly, football is one of the few things on television that is not really conducive to "on demand" viewing. The kick-off time is the kick-off time, and that is it. This leads to a second issue regarding the residual value of sport. This is close to zero once a game ends. By this I mean, who wants to watch the full match once the game has ended?
Of course, residual values do lie elsewhere. This is where the highlights reel comes in. Fans will gladly watch selected moments from a game after the final whistle. This is where the idea of Match of the Day must have its origins. The evolution of the show, first screened in 1964 is terribly interesting, even more so given its popularity today.
With the rise of online, mobile and tablet services, as well as streaming games, one has to wonder how a programme that goes out at around 10.30pm on a Saturday night, long after the outcome of all games is known, and highlights readily available seems to be as popular as ever.
This certainly deserves more investigation.