First non-league club breaks away from media rights blackout

by | Aug 17, 2021

Fan owned FC Isle of Man will live stream all its home fixtures this season by hosting matches outside of UEFA’s blackout window.

The North West Counties Division One South club will play its homes games on Saturday evenings so it can eliminate logistical barriers visiting teams face when travelling from the mainland and broadcast matches unrestricted online.

The club is leading non-league football’s media rights revolution in partnership with TicketCo Media Services.

Last season, UEFA lifted its blanket ban on Saturday afternoon fixtures being streamed while games were held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the restriction has been reinstalled for the 2021-22 season meaning matches played between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on Saturdays cannot be broadcast domestically online.

Unrestricted live streaming

Ty Smith, Commercial Director at FC Isle of Man, said being able to stream fixtures without restrictions is important to ensure the club can engage with its fanbase outside of the Isle of Man.

“All our home games will take place outside of UEFA’s blackout window this season so matches can be live streamed,” said Ty. “A proportion of our supporters are unable to physically attend matches, meaning the only way they can engage in the club’s home games is via live streaming.

“So many people in the UK and worldwide have a strong affinity to the Isle of Man and we have supporters living in Hong Kong, Canada, USA, Australia, Italy and other countries.

“We’re proud to be a fan-owned club and want all supporters to be able to experience matches at the same time together as one community – that is only possible by live streaming.”

Hybrid football

Last season, FC Isle of Man staged what was believed to be the first ever ‘hybrid match’ where supporters could attend the club’s historic pre-season friendly against Guernsey FC either physically or digitally.

Physical tickets quickly sold out while digital viewers tuned in across the world. The match justifies FC Isle of Man’s belief in the true power of digital and how it can help clubs source a fresh and sustainable new revenue stream.

“Supporters living on the island are our primary audience,” added Ty. “If they want to watch football at the highest level on the island, then FC Isle of Man is where they will see it.

“But it is important to also make sure we are satisfying the needs of our secondary and tertiary audiences too. They are those with a strong emotional connection to the island and football purists who want to follow a positive story.

“The two latter audiences wouldn’t be able to access games physically, so it is a no-brainer that we open up matches to supporters on a global scale. TicketCo gives us the platform to satisfy the demand of those supporters and bring in extra revenue by streaming.

“We have fans in Australia who support the club because they visit the island each year for the iconic Isle of Man TT – that passion has now been channelled into following the club’s weekly narrative.”

Full ownership

Joe Edwards, Global Key Account Manager at TicketCo Media Services, expects more non-league clubs to embrace digital technology through the 2021-22 season.

Already, teams playing in the Southern Football League can partner with the disruptive tech company to broadcast matches live globally online as part of a multi-year media rights deal.

Mr Edwards said: “Thanks to our hybrid technology clubs and leagues can now take ownership of their own Media Rights. It is empowering smaller clubs and congratulations to FC Isle of Man for pushing boundaries and leading the revolution.

“FC Isle of Man became early adopters of our HD-quality pay-per-view streaming service and is now taking it to the next level. Moving fixtures not only eliminates major logistical barriers visiting teams faced when travelling from the mainland, but it also enables the club to fulfil its broadcasting ambition.”

Join the revolution

TicketCo Media Services a cloud-based event payment and online broadcasting company. It has offices in Norway, UK, Netherlands, and Sweden. Its technology combines event payments with live streaming and on-demand services.

Non-league clubs partnered with TicketCo this season include Solihull Moors, Altrincham FC, AFC Telford, Tonbridge Angels, Oxford City, Welling United, Brackley Town, Kidsgrove Athletic, Canterbury City FC, FC Humber United, Newcastle Town and Bacup Borough.

To support non-league clubs exploring the opportunity live streaming presents, TicketCo has produced a ’10 Steps to Streaming Success’ Welcome Pack which is free to read online. Further information about partnering with TicketCo is available by contacting our friendly team here.

Written by Shaun Reynolds

Communications advisor and expert storyteller with Fortitude Communications. A former news reporter and sports editor of five years across several UK regional titles. Experienced in photography and social media management with a passion for the outdoors.

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