Eleven Sports Break England's 3pm TV Football Ban
Should all football be on TV at 3pm in England?
Those who have Sky Sports will know that, at 3pm on a Saturday, the only way to see any football in the UK is to go to a stadium. The FA have a rule that no games can be shown on TV at this time. The rule actually applies to all football - it doesn't matter if it’s an English Premier League game or a La Liga game, TV channels can not show them.However, Eleven Sports showed UK audiences two live games from Spain’s La Liga during the Saturday blackout that runs from 2:45 to 5:15 pm, on Sept 29th and Oct 6th, 2018.
This rule was introduced in the 1960s due to football clubs’ concerns that live football games on TV would reduce stadium attendance. This was at a time when stadium attendance was almost 100% of a club’s revenue.
UEFA, Europe’s football governing body, allows national leagues and FAs to impose a broadcast ban on the day that most games are played in each country.
Today, only England, Scotland and Montenegro still enforce the rule. Until this year it had been respected by all UK broadcasters. Both Sky Sports and BT Sport show games from other countries. But neither have broken the FA’s 3 pm ban. Both have the rights to show English football games and undoubtedly they would lose these should they choose to break the ban.
Eleven Sports, on the other hand, owns the live rights to show Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A in the UK, but does not have the rights to stream any British based football.
Joris Evers, La Liga’s chief communications officer, stated: "We support Eleven Sports in pushing the envelope in making matches available on Saturday afternoons… People are watching football either through piracy or on betting websites anyway...Upholding the ban does not make much sense." (From: Bloomberg)
Currently, the Spanish FA does not impose any such ban. Almost all La Liga games are shown live on Spanish TV. Being shown in the UK, when no British clubs are being broadcast, is a boon for Spain's top football league.
Eleven Sports will hope that live Saturday broadcasts can attract British viewers. The company argues that, at the moment, many such viewers watch the Spanish and Italian games via illegal streaming services.
The English FA said it was investigating this “through the appropriate channels” (From Bloomberg).
UEFA claims that it’s in contact with the Football Association, but has not yet received a complaint.
Does this rule help protect smaller clubs from losing out to the football giants? Or is it driving people, who would pay for a service, towards piracy? Now that you can watch games in the UK at 3 pm, will you subscribe to Eleven Sport?
Original story ran on Bloomberg.
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