The first two pay-per-view games of the Premier League season were slammed by fans after BT Sport and Sky Sports’ Box Office channels provided little pre or post-game analysis.
Supporters shut out from grounds due to the coronavirus crisis now have to pay £14.95 to watch each Premier League game that wasn’t originally scheduled to be shown live on either BT Sport, Sky Sports or Amazon Prime.
The first two matches – Chelsea’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Southampton and Manchester United’s win at Newcastle – were shown to viewers on Saturday, yet still left fans disappointed despite the price to watch the games.
Fans criticised BT Sport Box Office for their ‘atrocious’ coverage of Chelsea v Southampton
Sky Sports’ Box Office channels didn’t produce any pundits for Newcastle versus Man United
The service for both games was immediately criticised, with many bemoaning the lack of pre-game build-up, meaning the game did not have any of the pre-match interviews or analysis that viewers usually receive for TV games.
Instead, BT Sport displayed a holding screen with simple text advertising the game, while Sky Sports used their commentators, who were never showed on-screen, to dissect the best of the action between Newcastle and Manchester United.
One Twitter user wrote: ‘£15 and there’s not even a build up. BT Sport have the masks on’.
Another wrote: ‘BT Sport charging £15 for Chelsea vs Southampton, you would think that would include some pre-match build-up (interviews, analysis etc). But no… coverage starts at 2.55pm’.
This was the holding screen on BT Sport’s pay-per-view channel before kick-off on Saturday
Speaking about the Newcastle versus Manchester United game, a supporter claimed: ‘@SkySportsPL @SkySports for the s*** show of the box office I just watched the content you gave was less than what you did when it was free, you are the biggest problem with the premier league. If we pay for a match at least honour us with more value.’
Another fan said: ‘@SkySports really disappointed with your sky sports box office service. Very expensive to watch a game and not even any proper build-up, punditry or post match reaction. Already pay a fortune to have sky sports and having to pay this on top I would expect a better programme!’
Another user criticised the disappointing service and stated that it isn’t worth the money.
Fans vented their frustration at Sky Sports’ pay-per-view service via social media on Saturday
They wrote: ‘If the joke of £15 for a game through @btsportfootball wasn’t bad enough, the website is atrocious, it’s a pain to find how to buy, there’s no choice of payment options, clunky checkout and there isn’t even any pre-game buildup. Just tune in for kickoff and thanks for the money.’
Another individual described the lack of pre-game coverage as ‘ridciulous’.
They wrote: ‘Wow people are paying 15 pounds to have no pre match coverage, absolutely ridiculous!! Everyone stream it or go to pubs to stop this nonsense!!!’.
Supporters will have to continue paying £14.95 per game for matches that aren’t on television while they are unable to attend games. These fees are in addition to their normal Sky Sports and BT Sport subscriptions.
Despite the huge backlash from fans, Marc Allera, the chief executive of BT’s consumer division, stated that the fee helps cover the costs of showing games, with additional revenue being used to help clubs that are struggling during the pandemic.
Chelsea vs Southampton was the first Premier League game to be shown on pay-per-view
Man United’s trip to Newcastle on Sky Sports Box Office was the second PPV match shown
‘We had a suggested retail price which was suggested to us by the Premier League. We also have a cost that they’re charging us for those games.
‘We’re certainly not making significant amounts of money out of this, we’re pretty much just covering our costs,’ he said.
‘I think the intent of the Premier League to put these games on was to get some money moving into some of the clubs and leagues that are struggling and I think that’s a good intent, and that’s reflected in the price that they’re charging us. The vast majority of that £14.95 is the cost price to us of that game.’
Sky Sports only offered 15 minutes of pre-match analysis of their match before kick-off
Towards the end of last season and in the early stages of this campaign the majority of games, apart from those on Amazon Prime and the BBC, were shown live on Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Many fans are opposed to games being shown on pay-per-view, with the hashtag #BoycottPPV trending on Twitter.
The move was met with widespread backlash from football fans as they continue to be kept away from football grounds amid the coronavirus pandemic. And the situation has been made much worse with different households unable to mix due to the Government’s new restrictions.
Supporters are having to pay £14.95 to watch pay-per-view games this season now
Chelsea vs Southampton was the first PPV offering following the controversial move, with Newcastle vs Manchester United, Sheffield United vs Fulham, Leicester vs Aston Villa and West Brom vs Burnley also games that must be paid for on top this weekend in the Premier League.
Sportsmail recently revealed the Premier League wrote to all 20 clubs telling them their managers should avoid commenting on the controversial pay-per-view plans, asking them to instead focus on talking up the urgent need for fans to return to stadiums.
However, that didn’t stop Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho from criticising the move to make games pay-per-view, as he sympathised with fans when asked about the £14.95 fee.
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has slammed the Premier League’s pay-per-view plans
‘£14 is a lot of money,’ Mourinho said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Tottenham facing London rivals West Ham on Sunday.
‘You cannot even share with your friends as they cannot come to your house [in London]. It is difficult.
‘I feel sorry for the fans. But hopefully this stops quickly and we can have some people in the stadium.’
Addressing the issue, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers expressed his disappointment and questioned the judgement of the move at a time when many people find themselves struggling financially.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has also expressed his disappointment at the move
‘I’m disappointed for supporters, at the moment it’s already very difficult for them,’ Rodgers said.
‘If you can’t afford to pay that, then you don’t get to see the game. If it is in place now then I hope it’s not going to be for a sustained period of time.’
Leicester were the only club to vote against the introduction of pay-per-view for the five matches every weekend not scheduled for live broadcast.
After the controversial move came into place, the Premier League pointed out that their product, to be provided by Sky and BT, would be considerably superior to the EFL’s iFollow stream, which costs £10 a match.
However, football finance expert Kieran Maguire, author of The Price of Football, speaking on the BBC, said: ‘It is going to drive people towards piracy.
‘It discriminates against the clubs that don’t tend to be on Sky Sports or BT that often. The Premier League’s argument, which is that EFL clubs are charging £10 so we should be charging more because we have more cameras, is also flawed.
‘The cameras were already going to be there because the matches would have been shown on Match of the Day anyway, so the set-up costs would be minimal.’
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