The ultimate 2021/22 season streaming guide for football clubs

by | Aug 16, 2021

With the boom in streaming football matches continuing, there are some top considerations for clubs to ensure they successfully broadcast online this season.

Live streaming was temporarily unrestricted across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland during the COVID-19 lockdown. It resulted in UK clubs at all levels successfully engaging with supporters globally and generating revenue.
It demonstrated the demand for streaming and the vast benefits it brings.

With fans returning to stadiums this season, restrictions have returned. Online broadcasting is still a big opportunity for clubs, but it is important to be up to date on what is possible.

Here, TicketCo Media Services explains the fresh opportunities and new rules of live streaming football in the 2021-22 season in our guide to streaming football.

The regulations

A TV blackout rule prevents football matches hosted between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on Saturdays from being broadcast domestically. It was first introduced in the 1960s.

Today, the restrictions are tied up in major TV broadcasting rights deals between rights holders including Sky and BT Sport and the Premier League and EFL.

For the first time in its history, the rule was banished for the 2020-21 season so fans unable to attend games due to social restrictions could watch their team play. The English and Scottish FA approached European football’s governing body UEFA to request it lifted the blackout, which is underpinned by Article 8 of UEFA’s regulations.

UEFA is not responsible for enforcing the blackout, that sits with the relevant FAs, who can decide on the requested restrictions and submit them to UEFA under Article 8. The lifting of the restrictions was an historic moment and fuelled football’s streaming revolution.

The return of the blackout rule for the 2021-22 season means only viewers tuning in from overseas will be able to watch UK based matches between selected hours.

Blocked hours this season will occur every Saturday (2.45pm – 5.15pm) between:

  • Saturday, August 7, and Saturday, August 28.
  • Saturday, September 11, and Saturday, October 2.
  • Saturday, October 16, and Saturday, November 6.
  • Saturday, November 20, and Saturday, December 18.
  • Saturday, January 1.
  • Saturday, January 15, and Saturday, March 19.
  • Saturday, April 2, and Saturday, May 7.

UEFA say this position will be monitored through the season in the event of COVID-19 restrictions preventing or limiting spectators at matches.

The opportunities

Despite the reintroduction of the blackout ruling, many clubs will continue to stream fixtures online and attract additional revenue. There are plenty of opportunities for clubs to maximise.

Here are the top five reasons why all football clubs should stream this season:

  • Global audience

Supporters based abroad are still able to watch their UK based team play matches on Saturday afternoons via HD-quality live streaming. Non-league football has already proven it boasts a global audience with viewers tuning into games via TicketCo Media Services from countries including Australia, Singapore, Afghanistan, Canada, America, Mexico and across the whole of Europe last season. It appeals to expats, holidaymakers, business travellers, and more broadly overseas fans of the UK game.

TicketCo’s geo-blocking functionality makes it possible for clubs to broadcast matches to supporters worldwide, excluding those living in restricted countries. National League club Altrincham FC revealed it unlocked a significant global audience when it streamed matches online last season. You can read about it here.

  • Restriction free matches

Under current rules, nothing prevents clubs from live streaming fixtures scheduled to take place in midweek and pre-season friendlies to a domestic audience. Not only does this make these games accessible to home fans, but also away supporters. It means supporters who may not be able to attend due to work, travel, health or financial implications can still watch the match live. It is important to note that postponed Saturday fixtures rescheduled for Tuesday evenings are not eligible to be streamed.

  • Football on-demand

Although British viewers cannot watch domestic games live between 2.45pm and 5.15pm, matches can still be recorded and streamed ‘live’ on-demand or be made available to watch via catch-up to domestic viewers. You can read more about on-demand solutions here.

  • Video analysis

Not all teams have the luxury of preparing for games with the benefit of video analysis. A natural by-product of live streaming is that all recordings – first-team, academy and women – can be stored into your archives for future use.

  • Breaking tradition

The Premier League has worked around the blackout by hosting matches outside the restricted period. This has led to millions tuning into ‘Super Sunday’, ‘Monday Night Football’ and ‘Friday Night Football’. Now is the time for non-league football to break away from tradition. The Southern Football League have signed a Media Rights partnership with TicketCo Media Services – opening up streaming to all of its clubs. You can read more about it here.

A blow for supporters

The decision to deny clubs competing in leagues affiliated to the Football Association the opportunity to stream games on a Saturday this season is a blow.

Football should be accessible to everyone. But with the enormous money involved in TV Rights deals and the distribution of it to member clubs means the contracts are carefully protected. Unfortunately, it means at this stage many fans who may not be able to physically attend games due to health, travel or financial implications have been excluded from virtual terraces.

At TicketCo Media Services, we are confident a strong and sustainable future is possible for live streaming and on-demand broadcasting despite restrictions. Clubs have options and many share this view and will be broadcasting online this season.

FC Isle of Man

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

The club is leading non-league football’s media rights revolution by hosting home matches on Saturday evenings so matches can be broadcast unrestricted to supporters living on the mainland and beyond.

Ty Smith, the club’s Commercial Director, said: “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.”

Live streaming your match does not have to be pigeonholed to broadcasting 90 minutes of football only. Clubs can think outside the box and bring in a presenting team, broadcast highlights of former games, player interviews and training sessions, or even behind the scenes stadium and training ground tours. The possibilities are limitless.

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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