Coliseum’s Premier League Pass is innovative. It is special:
- Premier League Pass packages top-flight English football in a handy, innovative online format. Fans can watch it on a laptop, tablet, phone or stream to a TV. A single subscription allows viewers to choose any format.
- Every game is available. Fans need never miss their favourite team’s match.
- Viewers only pay for the one sport, not a rag-bag bundle of codes.
- Fans can watch when it suits. All games stream live, most games remain online for a day allowing easy catch-up. A handful of games stay online all week.
$200 for a season seems reasonable and inexpensive compared with Sky Sport. To get a more limited football coverage from Sky would cost at least five or six times as much.
I watch live games on my iPad Pro. The picture quality is often, although not always, first rate. An uncontested VDSL connection helps there.
New Zealand’s awkward time zone is brutal on English football fans. Depending on the daylight saving, games are usually played sometime between one AM and mid-morning. I often wake at 4:00 to catch my team’s game live — sometimes with headphones under a warm duvet.
Other times I catch up at the breakfast table with a cup of tea.
This flexibility is so much better than the alternatives. I found this out the hard way.
When Premier League Pass first appeared I signed up for the season. For a while I enjoyed it. Towards the end of the season I had to miss many games because my workload was so high I found myself too busy to watch, even early on weekend mornings.
So for the second season I decided to, ahem, use a VPN and watch the games broadcast on UK television. This approach was unsatisfactory. While Premier League Pass had the rights to every game, the BBC and ITV did not. I often missed important matches.
Worse, I could only watch these games at set times. It may have been possible to find a way of recording matches over the VPN, I never got there.
I left the worst part of this story to the end. Last season, the club I’ve supported since I was six years old, Chelsea, won the championship. I saw about eight or nine games that year. This explains why I was first in the queue when subscriptions for the current season went on sale.
And, yes, I know Chelsea has had an awful season. It’s been painful, but if Premier League Pass was in business next year, I’d sign on again. It’s just too good and so much better than the alternatives.
What will I do next season? It depends, if the new rights holder offers a similar service to Premier League Pass, I’ll be there.
Otherwise, I’ll sign up for Chelsea’s own TV service. It’s cheaper than Premier League Pass and includes European games, assuming there will be any next season. On the other hand, I won’t get to see many non-Chelsea games. That’s a pity.
Premier League Pass isn’t perfect. It doesn’t show cup games, European matches or internationals. I’d pay more if they could be added. Yet it was the best thing to happen to New Zealand TV sport in a long time.
For a short time Premier League Pass showed the potential of unbundled sports television. Friends from overseas, including those from England, often told me they were envious of the service. Let’s hope something similar returns in the future.
This story originally said the rights were lost by Coliseum Sports Media.