The Monday After: Primed

Amazon's involvement with the English Premier League has thrown up some questions about how sport will be viewed by fans - but is it something the EIHL can do in the future? (PHOTO: Amazon)

Primed

Debate was rife last week as Amazon televised all the English Premier League games for the first time, streaming them online for fans to pick and choose which games they wanted and the question banded around was, is this the way forward for sport?

As a teaser, non-subscribers were offered a free month to come on board, effectively showing games for free and it will be the same when they show more games on Boxing Day.

In an age now where a lot of televised coverage is going online in an attempt to woo potential viewers, is it an avenue for the the Elite League to consider?

Seven of the ten clubs provide a regular stream of the action on their respective home games.  An eighth, Nottingham Panthers, dipped their toes in and streamed on YouTube.  Glasgow Clan and Guildford Flames have never done this yet.

Each club takes care of their own in-house coverage and charge per game, primarily for away fans to watch their team if they can’t physically be there.

But now that all games are streamed privately to the league to aid in the purposes of gathering stats information and deal with any DOPS issues, wouldn’t a collective EIHL subscription service, akin to NHL Live be the way forward?

It’s a model perhaps more familiar in North America as certain leagues in different sports have their own subscription service, allowing you to watch your own team’s games and any other than might take your interest.

Among ice hockey fans, NHL Live is the go-to service and with games on most nights, it’s one that diehard fans will use and really get their monies worth.

All the teams’ broadcasts are centralised with NHL, who distribute accordingly, but the only down side is if there’s a game being shown in the UK on Premier Sports or FreeSports, it’s geoblocked.

Could the Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers games from the weekend be matches that would have attracted fans to an online subscription service? (PHOTO: William Cherry/Press Eye)

So it got me thinking that, on the back of Amazon trying to blaze a new trail in broadcasting top level English football, should it be something the Elite League could look at as a way of keeping coverage of our league on the airwaves?

The FreeSports deal is sacrosanct and like NHL Live, should be exempt from the live service, but is the centralisation of all the EIHL coverage one that could be of interest and ultimately succeed?

If NHL are charging $199.99 (just over £150) for over 1,000 regular season games, Winter Classic, Stadium Series and Stanley Cup play-off games or $29.99 per month, roughly £22.82 as well, then why isn’t there an equivalent EIHL model?

There wouldn’t be as many games for a start, plus including the Challenge Cup ties and perhaps play-off semi finals at least, depending on the TV deal in place.  

Compared to the NHL, there would be roughly 400 EIHL games, give or take televised games and I reckon something the fans would get behind, instead of having to cough up anywhere between £10 and £15 per webcast.

If you make it viable and cost effective, people will go for it.

The down side is obviously attendance figures, which is the bread and butter of the Elite League and naturally all the owners would need convincing of this, which is probably why it will be a non-starter.

But if the Amazon model in this country proves to be a success, who’s to say in maybe five-ten years time, the discussion is on the table to open up Elite League ice hockey as an online subscription service?  The times are changing in televised sport after all.

Will Belfast Giants coach Adam Keefe still be holding the Challenge Cup after their quarter final against Cardiff Devils? (PHOTO: David Williams)

It’s a knockout!

I’ve had my grumbles about the Challenge Cup issues so it’s a change of pace from me this week to say that I’m looking forward to seeing how the quarter finals pan out.

We’ve had the silliness of the groups and the ‘Pick Your Opponent’ system so now it’s time for the cold, hard action we all love to see.

Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils is the standout tie of this round as they meet in the first leg in Northern Ireland on Wednesday, but one of these teams won’t see the semis.

Dundee and Glasgow complete their mini-series and by the end of the week, we’ll have one confirmed semi finalist.

Nottingham and Guildford could be a fascinating affair, especially considering the Flames put Panthers out last year in the last four and both sides having just played each other yesterday.

Plus you’ve got Sheffield Steelers, surprisingly having never won this competition in the Elite League era against an improving Manchester Storm side.  Somehow this won’t be as straight forward as some people may think.

All four ties have the potential to be crackers so let’s hope they all live up to their billing in what’s going to be a big week.

LISTEN: This week’s British Ice Hockey podcast – something more straight down the middle for fans

Ear candy

Excuse the self indulgence, but I hope you’ve all been listening to our very own podcast, which has been on the go for the last three months or so now.  We try to being as many interviews from across the spectrum as we can.

Ben Hughes, our presenter, has done a terrific job with it and it’s worth subscribing for anyone who likes something straight down the middle when it comes to their choice of listening.

There are so many club-generated podcasts around, we wanted to bring something a little more central that would appeal to all fans.

A lot of the clubs are getting on board with it as well so it’s a place where’ll hear from the coaches and players up and down the leagues and the country as we try to bring you something different.

If you skip by the questionable Scottish guy who’s on it at the start, it’s a good listen, bringing you perspectives from all over and makes you aware of things you didn’t know was going on.

So, please check it out if you haven’t yet.  This week’s episode is just above the start of this segment and you can subscribe and download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox,  Audioboom, Google podcasts or Deezer.

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