The Premier League is back and thanks to catch-up streaming there are no doubt a few fans in Australia who didn’t watch a minute of this weekend’s action live.
I have a confession to make. When the World Cup ended, I kept my Optus Sport subscription despite the fact it was about to cost me $15 a month.
That’s how they get you. I wrote extensively about the Premier League’s move from Fox Sports to Optus at the time but even I knew back then that the horse had bolted.
There were genuine causes for complaint as far as I was concerned, but ever since the telco began offering football coverage as a standalone service and not accessible only to Optus customers, the complaints have more or less dried up.
And the coverage itself has been excellent.
There are preview shows and press conferences for those so inclined, the highlights go up quickly and effectively and perhaps the best feature of all is the 24-minute mini-matches.
In fact, those mini-matches are so good you essentially never have to watch a live Premier League game at all anymore – especially if the games are on in the early hours of the morning.
I must admit that I did watch some live English football this weekend. It just wasn’t the Premier League.
Faced with the choice of firing up the laptop to watch Manchester City slaughter West Ham at the worst stadium in the league or the infinitely more interesting clash between Leeds United and Nottingham Forest on beIN Sports, I flicked on the TV instead.
I did at one point try to log into the Chromecast on our other TV but it had lost the connection to the modem for the umpteenth time and I couldn’t be bothered messing around trying to remember the password.
So rather than watch the Premier League, I watched The Championship instead.
And I’d say that will probably be the case more often than not this season.
It’s not that I’m averse to new technology. I watch Netflix on my TV all the time and the football apps on my phone cop a beating, including Optus Sport.
If anything, it’s probably more a case of having access to too much technology.
Between phones and laptops and multiple streaming services on different devices, it’s not always that convenient to keep switching between them all.
Call it the path of least resistance, but most of the time I’d still rather just turn on the TV and watch whatever football happens to be on. I doubt I’m the only one.
Of course, the entrance of Fox Sports’ own streaming service Kayo into the market has at least served to bring prices down, with Foxtel now heavily discounting access to its traditional subscription packages.
I just wonder, though, if all this on-demand access hasn’t changed the way we watch our football?
Let’s call it the YouTube effect. It feels like there are plenty of fans across the globe watching highlights of games online and getting on social media to discuss their favourite players.
But are they watching many 90-minute matches? And are they watching live?
By the time the A-League starts up again in October, I’ll invariably cut back on the amount of European football I watch anyway.
There are only so many hours in a day and I can always watch a replay, highlights or a mini-match on demand.
I just wonder if that’s what the Premier League envisaged when they flogged off the broadcast rights to the highest bidder a couple of seasons ago?
Where once I would always tune into the live Saturday night clash on SBS, now I don’t even need to do that.
Has the way we consume our football changed forever? Or are we simply spoilt for choice in the age of technology?