WatchLOI a Win-Win

The costs of streaming the rest of the SSE Airtricity League season will be met by the FAI, RTÉ Sport will underwrite the cost of production while the revenues that come in from the payments from fans will in large part be shared amongst the clubs.

RTÉ will be putting one and two camera setups in place and have rolled out their top-flight presentation and commentary teams to make this into a step beyond what it could have been with a cheaper option on the production side.

Fans will pay €55 for a season ticket giving access to 55 games or if they want to dip in and out there is an option to buy single passes for only €5.

It is the future of sports broadcasting and it has arrived here in Ireland.

The price point reflects a very fair deal for fans who would otherwise have gone to grounds to watch the matches and it is over to us now to vote for just how much we want to watch the domestic game.

Two weeks ago we ran numbers over the potential of how many fans it could attract.

A crude analysis of attendance data from ExtraTime.ie would suggest that the average aggregate weekly attendance at matches in the Premier Division would be around 10,500 with an additional 3,000 going to First Division matches. If 20 per cent of them are season ticket holders, who will need to be accommodated with free access to the streaming, that leaves a potential 10,800 who would normally pay to watch games as a core audience for streaming.

This is reduced by the number of family and friends that would choose to watch together so we could conservatively reduce the number by two thirds, leaving 3,700 or so core subscriptions.

Let us assume that the regular TV audience for live sport would embrace the opportunity to watch.

The average viewership for League matches on RTÉ in recent years could be estimated at 70,000 while 91,000 tuned into the opening match of the U17 European Championships hosted here last year.

Let us conservatively assume that most of the 630,000 that tuned into Liverpool against Barcelona in the Champions’ League at the same period would not pay extra to watch domestic football but that maybe ten per cent of the more casual fans might, that is potentially an extra 63,000.

In total then a conservative universe figure of a potential audience who might be interested in watching the games could be 130,000

If 20 per cent bought a season ticket for €55 and the remainder paid for three games at €5 each that delivers a sum of €1.43 million in season tickets and €1.56 million in casual match adoption.

It is a revenue stream of €3 million.

In the latest figures from the UEFA Club Benchmark, it showed SSE Airtricity league as having produced revenue of €15 million in 2018, and that 28 per cent of that came from gate receipts.

Considering we had five rounds of games played before the break, that would be close to what the streaming deal could generate but without the costs associated with opening the ground up to fans.

We are not saying that these figures would pass an auditors test, probably, but it is a worthwhile exercise which shows the value of this as an experiment.

If we can attract overseas customers who will pay a premium of €69 for the season ticket then it could become a long term model.

Domestic soccer is different from others in that there is little displacement because the income from TV is negligible. Nevertheless, Rugby, GAA and other sports will be watching closely and RTÉ will be running the numbers as a way of generating income from the sport as both a broadcast services provider and with the scope to sell advertising as part of the show.

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