The main problem with Match of the Day is that it’s not very good, but the wider issue of a lack of innovation could result in a much loved programme getting killed off in the near future.
Match of the Day has been synonymous with English football for almost 50 years, but is under considerable risk of being shelved according to recent reports as the BBC looks set to pull the plug on it’s partner show The Football League Show . The BBC has also announced a cutback initiative as it strives to provide greater value – which as a national broadcaster in a recession will certainly be a challenge.
So, what exactly is wrong with Match of the Day?
There are a number of problems facing the show, much of which can be summed up that it is highlights programme wrapped up in an often tired tedious and annoying format. Football is presented in an apologetic manner, watered down with banal pundits who are too friendly with certain players and teams to say anything remotely interesting. There is very little insight or expertise on show and has long since moved from a must see with viewership on the wane. It’s also increasingly difficult to justify the amount paid to the presenters & pundits from licence fee payers. Alan Hansen is reported to earn around £1.4m a year, while Alan Shearer takes in around £500k. Ouch.
Younger generation demand a more informative programme.
While a more mature viewer may not be too put off with the all round lazy punditry that MotD provides, a younger generation – schooled in Championship Manager and easy access to a vast amount of information on stats, player information, tactics, video replays and football discussion. These viewers demand greater insight than the ‘say what you see’ style punditry
Highlights are available online, sooner.
While linear programming is not quite dead yet, the greater risk for sporting shows is that their audience can watch that goal/talking point/sending off online . There are a wide range of websites which offer short highlight packages for every game. Websites such as 101GreatGoals & FootyRoom are notable places to check first, even though the coverage probably won’t be in English – it doesn’t really matter if you’d prefer not having to endure Lineker & Co bore their way through over an hour of in-jokes and bad puns.
Full games are available online.
Thanks to the massive grey area of streaming live games from foreign countries, it is possible to access every live game online. Websites such as LiveOnlineFooty & FlashSportsStreams provide paid services which are on par with the best commercial providers at a snippet of the cost. There are also many free stream websites such as Sopcast that use peer-2-peer technology to provide watchable coverage.
The rise of ‘football stream’ searches
Is there any hope?
Quite simply, the BBC are the only broadcaster that are likely to want the programme. An ill conceived switch to ITV a number of years ago, where it moved to a prime time billing with much fanfare resulted in poor viewing numbers.
Shifting the time slot of the programme may be a good idea though, moving it to a more social friendly Sunday morning may suit a revamped MotD. Sky have a similar highlights programme Goals on Sunday which is much more relaxed and mixes football action with guests.
Viewers being able to access live games & highlights via the grey area of the internet can’t be avoided. Broadcasting packages are structured in suchso that Match of the Day would be unable to show highlights as quickly as those accessed online.
The one area where the BBC do succeed is their digital service which provides minute by minute coverage during live games and quality video content. As part of a recent review, CEO John Smith has outlined a number of strategic objectives which appear primarily concerned with their digital capabilities.
This could potentially open MotD to live interaction and a more engaging programme. It’s interesting to note the the MotD Facebook page has over 1.2m fans but post updates are twice a week at best. Contrast this to the TopGear or DoctorWho pages and it’s clear which works better. The fact that MotD has little overseas appeal compared to Top Gear & Doctor Who may have influenced this direction.
An obvious opportunity for MotD would be to get rid of the high paid pundits and invest more into the connection between social, broadcasting and website to build a richer experience for the viewer – similar to what The Guardian have done through podcasts, match analysis, quality journalism and integrating with Facebook.
Imagine the capability to interact with the content & discussion on MotD through social & digital channels. Engaging with fellow viewers, debating the finer points, offering your own analysis through apps and ultimate enjoying a greater experience than the current outdated method. Match of the Day may not be quite dead yet, but unless really needs to embrace the new age of broadcasting if it is to survive 2012.