The NFL is the latest sport to be caught up in the streaming wars. Photo/Getty
1. Full stream coming soon
A co-worker at least two years my senior recently complained about the woes of switching between live sport on a streaming service, versus channel surfing that has come so
easily on traditional television.
And he had a stitch, with one foot in the grave. It’s slightly more complicated to juggle games on a streamer, and the few seconds of buffering to start a new stream add up.
Unfortunately for my failed colleague, there is no turning back. As Sky and Spark exchange content in this country – evidenced by the former’s reclaiming the Premier League rights – the future is clear.
Last week, it was reported that Apple was set to get the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, marking a monumental shift for America’s most popular sport.
Considering that the Fruit Network this year became the first American company to reach a market value of US$3 trillion, staging an NFL coup for US$2.5 billion ($3.74 billion ) per year is a relatively loose change.
The streaming wars that disrupted content globally were always going to come for sports, and unfortunately for some generations less enamored with watching live games online, fans had better get used to it.
2. Cricketers in a club versus country battle
Apologies for continuing to stalk my former co-worker, but streaming wasn’t the end of his gripe. And on this point, I have to partially agree: it can be exasperating to see Kane Williamson at the IPL’s crease after being deprived of that pleasure all summer.
There’s a reasonable explanation why the Black Caps skipper wears the colors of Sunrisers Hyderabad after a lingering elbow injury sidelined him since December: the lighter strike load required for the T20s meant that he could still play in this format while being unable to put on whites.
But it’s also true that Sunrisers paid $2.7 million to retain Williamson this season – and he was far from the only one skipping Black Caps games to play in the IPL.
The dozen internationals missing from the Dutch series weren’t missed on the pitch except by hungry cricket fans in a Covid-disrupted summer.
But it’s still the new normal. Battles between clubs and countries have been raging in football for years. With the ever-growing financial disparity between these two parties, it’s no surprise that the battles have spilled over into other codes.
3. With great power…
This is especially true as athletes are more powerful than ever, beneficiaries of a long-overdue rebalancing in sport that places greater value on those who, you know, play sport.
This may not be entirely desirable for fans who preferred their athletes to be paid little and say less, but athletes are obviously entitled to a greater share of the huge revenue generated by their abilities.
Just as they have the right to communicate directly with fans via social networks instead of more traditional channels, even if these channels ask very well.
And they can play for whoever they want, whenever they want. Rugby sabbaticals will only increase as the wealth available abroad continues to eclipse what is on offer at home, and New Zealand rugby will become more careful to keep its stars eligible for selection. of the All Blacks.
A change in this particular policy still seems a long way off, but sportspeople will only become more powerful as streamers flood the market with more money.
4. Safety first
Spooked by potential class action lawsuits from former players whose bodies testify to the risk contact sports can pose, the sport is becoming increasingly safer.
This Super Rugby season has provided plenty of evidence of that, with the change across Tasman doing nothing to stop the wave of red cards.
Some might think the game doesn’t exist anymore, and today’s athletes just aren’t as tough on steak and cigarettes.
But such anachronisms aren’t taken seriously in most areas of sport, not when we hear of players like former England hooker Steve Thompson.
Thompson, whose new memoir details his struggles with what he calls the ‘brain damage’ he suffered from rugby, can’t remember anything about playing and winning the World Cup final 2003.
Its history, although exceptional, is not an aberration and new security measures are clearly necessary and permanent.
There will be more. Untitled football may seem absurd, but prominent former pros like England striker Gary Lineker are among those who have voiced their support for such a drastic change.
5. Anti-competitive behavior
There won’t be many people of any age who will look back with nostalgia on better days in the Bundesliga. But anyone who loves their competitive sport should worry about Bayern Munich winning their 10th league title in a row.
The German giants aren’t the only ones exercising unsportsmanlike dominance over their domestic rivals.
Nick Harris of sports intelligence calculated that at the end of this 30th English Premier League season, 82% of the 90 major domestic trophies available will have been won by six clubs: Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Leicester.
By contrast, in the 30 years before the Premier League, the six most successful clubs won 59% of domestic top prizes.
This trend, like all the others in this article, will not reverse as long as oil-rich nation states continue to whitewash their reputations through football clubs.
Parity in football is disappearing; the only way unadvertised clubs can succeed now is with a sugar daddy/royal family.
And if the message isn’t clear, maybe I can elucidate it using a format baby boomers will understand: memes.
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