Fans looking to watch Crystal Palace and Everton build upon their perfect starts to the new Premier League season will have to do so from their own homes after Amazon confirmed to The Morning Advertiser (The MA) that its first game of the 2020/21 season would not be available in pubs.
This comes despite the Premier League’s pledge to broadcast all 28 fan-free fixtures slated in September live via existing partners Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC.
“Prime members will be able to stream Crystal Palace v Everton at 3pm this Saturday 26 September on Amazon Prime Video, at no extra cost to their existing membership,” a spokesperson said.
“We are working with our partner BT Sport in regards to the plans for the rest of our games for the 2020/21 season.”
First time rights holder
In the latest Premier League rights auction – Amazon’s first foray into live football – the web giant picked up 20 exclusive Premier League fixtures while Sky Sports claimed 128 and BT Sport purchased rights to 52.
However, with all games currently being played behind closed doors due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Premier League has allocated extra games to its partners Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC to ensure fans are able to watch.
While Amazon has confirmed which fixtures from the forthcoming Premier League season will be exclusively broadcast via its Prime Video service under the original rights agreement – a midweek round spanning 15 and 16 December before a second on 28 December – the Premier League has not yet revealed any additional allocation beyond Crystal Palace v Everton.
During the 2019/20 campaign, BT Sport was appointed to market Amazon’s Premier League pass to commercial premises so they could show fixtures, with the three extra games allocated to Prime Video post-lockdown made available to pubs for free via the broadcaster.
Pubs ‘deserve better’
Research from CGA found that almost a third (32%) of pub owners agreed that footfall drivers such as live sport are key to rebuilding post-lockdown trade with a 2017 study by sport pub finding app Matchpint revealing that live football can yield average incremental sales of £30,000 per pub, per year.
What’s more, venues broadcasting Arsenal’s recent FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea saw an average 4.5% volume uplift during the game, peaking in the first half where sales were up 6.9% versus venues without live sport, according to Oxford Partnership Market Watch.
Matchpint co-founder Dominic Collingwood described the situation regarding Crystal Palace v Everton as “a shambles”.
“For landlords and publicans to be told that the status quo is changing less than 48 hours before a game is completely unacceptable,” he told The MA.
“If, as Amazon suggests, they have a partnership with BT Sport, then the latter needs to be far more forthcoming with information about future events.
“That starts with the Autumn Rugby internationals in November (historically available to pubs via Sky Sports) which is most pressing.
"For major events such as these, pubs begin to plan and advertise 6-8 weeks in advance. With six weeks to go, pubs don't even know if they'll be able to show the games, let alone if there will be additional costs to consider.
“BT Sport and Amazon need to communicate whether and how these events will be made available to pubs – not as soon as possible, but now. Not to do so is to show complete disregard for the challenges faced by landlords and pub companies when planning and advertising sport to their customers.
“Most disappointing is that this lack of communication comes at a time when landlords and pub groups are most in need of support to help them navigate the most challenging trading conditions they ever have faced.
“Landlords and pub companies deserve better."
The news comes just days after the Premier League announced that it had revised its fixture schedule across the last weekend of September and first week of October in keeping with the Government’s 10pm pub curfew.
Confirming its live match selections for Monday 28 September, Saturday 3 October and Sunday 4 October, the Premier League revealed that new kick-off times would apply to all midweek matches to give fans the opportunity to watch games before pubs close.