The Premier League pay-per-view premiere was far from the ‘premium product’ advertised … a lack of time and teething problems meant that even Chelsea’s thrilling draw with Southampton wasn’t worth the money
- Chelsea’s stalemate with Southampton was the first Premier League PPV game
- Chief Richard Masters had promised viewers a ‘premium product’
- Those who paid to participate in the new age were given limited analysis and problems
- Even the great draw at Stamford Bridge meant it probably wasn’t worth the money
One can only assume that somewhere deep in the sacred ‘ecosystem’ football chiefs insist that they try to protect, that something has been lost in translation.
Before that, the premiere of Premier League pay-per-view, Richard Masters promised a ‘premium product’ with everything we normally expect from top football on the box. All for the additional cost of £ 14.95.
Funny then, as the clock ticked towards the kick-off at Stamford Bridge, those paying for a part in this new era were only treated to a watch screen and blaring tunes. At least the sign-up process was simple enough. (Funny, that.)
Chelsea held a tie against Southampton at the premiere of the Premier League pay-per-view
Timo Werner scored twice in a thriller, but viewers were treated to hasty analysis and trouble
Eventually, however, as the teams gathered in the tunnel, coverage began. And how it was worth the wait – five minutes, three questions and a time-pressed expert. ‘Short and sweet’ was how BT described it. Our judgment would also start with ‘s’.
The poor pundit was Steve Sidwell – a fine player and a shrewd analyst … but not one to ever call out ‘Box office’.
BT emphasizes that this new model is not designed to be put in their pockets. Instead, they just cover their costs and try to help a sick sport.
Steve Sidwell, a shrewd analyst, was employed by BT Sport but was short on time
Viewers were only seen five minutes before the game with the players in the tunnel
Fair play – they can hardly be accused of wasting viewers’ money on bloated reporting or overproduction. This felt more like BT Knock Off-ice.
So it was inevitable that there were teething problems. Midway through the first half, commentator Ian Darke referred to a pre-game interview that we hadn’t seen; other viewers had no comment at all.
Given the backlash to Steve McManaman’s performance behind the microphone during the Merseyside derby, some cynics would say that wasn’t a bad thing.
And yet, of course, that was the ultimate irony – or insult, depending on your sense of humor: In this new era, the warm-up act was better than the main event.
Commentator Ian Darke was referring to an interview that was not shown on PPV during teething problems
The derby – free to subscribers – was treated to the full length of work: an hour of set-up, a glitzy studio, a trio of A-list experts, even an in-house referee busy unpacking all the theater in Goodison Park.
While viewers on BT Sport 1 got a surgical analysis of any controversy, we who watched Box Office were treated to the sound of silence.
No wonder a Chelsea supporter group called on rivals to join their boycott of this latest show of ‘greed’. At a time when so many people are struggling in society, this hardly felt like a soothing medicine; “ridiculous” and “horrible” were among the online reviews.
The only saving grace? Once kick-off took place at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea and Southampton put on some spectacle.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea had to settle for a point, but contributed to a spectacle
The fans who did dip into their pockets saw six goals as well as some amazing skills
This draw mixed drama, action and no shortage of comedy – not least when Kurt Zouma and Kepa Arrizabalaga played hot potato leading up to Che Adams’ equalizing goal.
The fans who did dip into their pockets were treated to a first glimpse of Hakim Ziyech in Chelsea blue and Theo Walcott’s return to Southampton. There was also a genius from Timo Werner.
Both of his first two Premier League goals had amazing skills. Worth the price of admission alone, as they always said. But worth it, probably not?