A look back: Did Amazon Prime give reason to believe in OTT for the Premier League?

By Shania Bedi

This season has marked a new beginning for modern-day football as Amazon Prime Video became the third UK-accessible service to provide us with Premier League coverage.

Prime was rife with English top flight fixtures across two stints in December, and while the concept of a streaming service seemed almost perfect on paper, occurring glitches that were hard to ignore proved that there is still room for improvement when it comes to OTT in sport.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems with Prime Video came in one of the highly anticipated matches that Amazon covered, Manchester United vs Tottenham. For non-Twitter users, a delay was probably not noticeable. However, a lot of fans were quick to display their outrage on social media when the official Spurs account had tweeted that the game was underway a whole minute before the game was seen to have kicked off on Amazon.

Football fans have not held back on complaining about paying for a combination of BT Sports, Sky Sports and now Amazon. But unlike the traditional broadcasters, Amazon struggled to keep up with the pace – an issue that has to be rectified. However, teething problems were always expected, and one can forgive the streaming service on the assumption that the technology will only get better and more efficient with time.

It certainly wasn’t all negative though. Prime did deliver some great coverage and more importantly, great opportunities to indulge yourself in any one of many Premier League games. Another impressive factor in Amazon’s coverage was in the range of pundits that they had appearing on the show. The quality of football punditry can truly make the experience of watching football on TV, and the variety on show has been one of the most valued parts of the streaming service. Amazon ensured that viewers would be happy with a variety of 43 studio analysts covering matches across December, including the likes of Harry Redknapp, Thierry Henry, Alex Scott and Peter Crouch.

However, we all know that the main way in which Amazon brilliantly differentiated themselves from Sky Sports and BT was in its ability to provide us with more than one Premier League match at the same time. While Soccer Saturday has been a useful ‘go-to’ in terms of catching the latest goal updates, Amazon gave us the luxury of flicking through each match, something that fans have been craving for years.

Amazon pulled off their Boxing Day coverage impressively, showing all nine matches for a marathon 12 hours, with no obvious problems. Though one can only imagine the sheer cost of an operation like that, and whether a rights-holder like the Premier League could afford such a thing if they were to attempt it themselves, or if it would even have the infrastructure and staff to pull it off.

Amazon even took their TV-viewing experience to another level, providing the option to switch off commentary and listen to the ‘stadium atmosphere’, and could even to watch a short highlight reel almost immediately after the final-whistle. This would have certainly been popular amongst viewers.

These features show why Amazon Prime Video has been a refreshing update for football coverage in comparison to what we regularly see on traditional TV. Was my experience better overall? It was certainly different, with the new features such as the appearing ‘odds board’ in front of me. What was really ideal was knowing that my Amazon Prime account gave me access to it all, no matter what the device, no matter what time, what game or even what ground – it was covered and it was covered well.

I’ve no doubt Amazon’s movement in the sport’s OTT industry of late will have turned a few heads at rights-holders’ HQs, as they will certainly begin to ponder whether there may be some real financial gain for them by offering a product of such ease and convenience directly to the fans.

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