It’s a shame more sport events aren’t on free-to-air TV

Team GB Rio hockey gold medal winner Maddie Hinch. Picture: Jon Rigby
Team GB Rio hockey gold medal winner Maddie Hinch. Picture: Jon Rigby

Love it or hate it, Friends is undoubtedly one of, if not the, most enduring television programmes in history.

The ubiquitous presence on the EPG and TV schedules is proof it still delivers an audience advertisers are willing to pay for over 20 years after its inception.

One scene at which our family regularly giggles is when Monica’s father says ‘well, Judy, I think you finally filled her up’. However, it seems the viewers are some way from being satiated when it comes to the American comedy.

This week, some pundits say viewing figures suggest that the paying public may have finally got to the stage where they can’t take another wafer thin mint of live football on television.

With games on pretty much every day of the week the spread of fixtures means the appointment to view is somewhat diminished. Of course, we also now live in a world where you can grab snippets on download or catch up on a host of devices including your mobile phone.

It is becoming a lot easier to access at any time of the day. There is still a difference between digital services on subscription channels and free-to-air.

You might say that because I am an employee of the BBC I would say it but it does seem a shame so many large sporting events are no longer on free-to-air channels. Of course, the rights are expensive.

We still have Wimbledon and the Olympics but live football is somewhat limited. One last bastion where viewers across the country and the globe can view domestic football is the FA Cup.

Some may say it has lost its magic but as the competition builds with the arrival of the first round proper next weekend, we can all enjoy the stories as they emerge.

It is also a chance for fans to get off the sofa, get out there and get involved. Good luck to the Sussex sides involved. Hopefully the crowds will increase across the country and fill the tills of the club bars.

On Wednesday night, I took in a non-league game. Barely 50 fans hung over the sides watching through the gloom. It may not have been a huge crowd but it was entertaining and more people than the three slouched on the sofa in the club bar nursing one drink to watch Man Utd v Man City in the EFL Cup on a subscription channel.

Sometimes the more we see the more we want to go. Sky and BT have their place of course. I hope we can hold onto a few sports and events on free-to-air TV as well. It may help to inspire more of those in terrestrial households off the sofa and into the grounds and ultimately onto the pitch.

Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger

To read more by Johnny Cantor, visit www.johnnycantor.com

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