As a box-set and movies fan, I have no objection to paying multiple subscriptions for the things I want to watch. Right now I’m a subscriber to Netflix, Disney, Apple and Amazon Prime. On Prime, I subscribe to four additional channels; Brit Box, Lionsgate, Shudder and MGM. My household also has a Sky subscription with the full entertainment package.
So it’s a lot. I get through loads of this stuff.
I enjoy it. We’re living in the Golden Age Of Television, and even though movies have never been so bad the last time the small screen was as dominant as it is right now was in the mid-seventies and that birthed New Hollywood, and the best films ever made.
If I didn’t have those subscriptions I would be buying box-sets every other week, and adding to a vast and swollen collection which is frankly too large and unwieldy already. Don’t get me wrong; I still buy the occasional box-set, but only when a show is really special.
This is a matter of choice. I know what I’m getting paying for these services, and I don’t grudge it at all. I’m lucky I have the financial wherewithal to explore the things I get pleasure from.
But even I draw the line somewhere.
Let me put it like this, because this will make it easy to grasp; Brit Box, Shudder and LionsGate cost me about £15 a month combined. A TNT Sports subscription – what used to be BT – costs a bare minimum of £18 a month. I can quit those three Prime add-ons anytime I like. To sign up for BT Sport requires a 24-month contract and an upfront fee.
That’s a rip-off. Sky Sports is equally expensive, and it’s already a stretch having to pay for both of them if you want to watch your club.
When Viaplay got the contract for Scotland games, League Cup matches and, God almighty, The Scottish Cup that was a full-on disgrace.
Their own sign-up policy is less severe than the others … but still, it’s ghastly.
It is inexcusable for Celtic games to be spread across three separate subscriptions. European games are out-with our purview, and we all know that if we want to watch Champions League games we’re going to need to spend more; nothing can be done about that by the people who run the game here.
The reality is that UEFA didn’t want to partner up with Sky and that the guys who used to be BT Sport offered them more. But for the people in charge of the game right here, faced with a choice about our cup competitions, it was a decision which could have been taken with the greater good in mind, a decision which considered the supporters.
For them to have sold off the League Cup, the Scottish Cup and our national team games to a third broadcaster was a choice that they made for money; it would be different it was big money, but once again we sold our product for a pittance. At the same time, the lack of even the most basic regard that shows for the fans is mind-bending.
I’m shedding no tears for the collapse of Viaplay.
The two cup competitions should be returned to where they belong; either the broadcaster who already has the league games – Sky – or the one which many of us already pay for to watch our teams in Europe, TNT. International games should be shown on the BBC, where they have traditionally been.
The SFA should have been condemned from every outlet and fan organisation for ever having done what they did here. There is no excuse for it, not even the money, because it was such a pitiful deal that the game here probably wouldn’t have missed it.
It is not the first time that they’ve done a deal with some firm trying to make its name only for that to blow up in their faces, and it shows you how moronic those who walk into those negotiating sessions are.
This is not a dangerous moment for our game; it’s an opportunity to get out from under a truly stinking deal, and restore a little sanity around here, and to do something for the fans.
Return the cup competitions to the biggest possible audience … and get our national team out from under a grubby commercial contract which keeps SFA fat cats in clover and forces ordinary punters to pay through the nose. Enough is enough.