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Stan Collymore: ‘The super broadcaster that can show Premier League games anywhere, anytime is coming’

Stan Collymore believes sports broadcasts are on the cusp of disruption.

Footballer turned pundit Stan Collymore is braced for a future where people are more likely to watch their favourite sports on a social network than they are a TV network.

That shift will arrive sooner than many think, he believes, as the likes of Twitter start to fill the cracks that have emerged in the sports broadcast model. And while they won’t shatter it anytime soon, the model is under such commercial pressure to offset the costs of ballooning rights that Collymore thinks online media will exploit.

“It’s inevitable that Twitter will have a Premier League game sooner rather than later,” he told The Drum. His reasoning is that football chiefs will have no choice but to pivot toward the new superpowers in media if they are to counter murmurings that the once infallible attraction of live sport may be faltering. This is where observers argue that that younger viewers are less inclined to tune into a broadcaster’s sports coverage beyond just the events themselves because far more engaging content is being shared online.

Look no further than recent reports that viewing figures for Sky Sports’ Premier League coverage has slipped 19% this season as proof of this paradigm shift. And that’s despite the broadcaster already airing headline clashes such as the Manchester derby, Arsenal vs Liverpool and Chelsea vs Liverpool.

“The rules of being able to broadcast in one territory but not the other are going to change because for the kid at home that’s 17, who isn’t going to be spending however much it is on BT Sport each month, then they’re just going to go on an illegal stream,” he warned. It’s a reality the likes of BT Sport and Sky are already having to wrestle, one that’s compounded by the growing prospect of sports organisations becoming media partners.

Some football clubs are already doing this, Collymore revealed, and it’s something he’s mindful of when mapping out the growth trajectory of his own fledgling sports network, which launches next month. Starting out as an app for his Call Collymore show, the former Talksport host wants it to be the foundation for a sports network for the “connected generation”.

“Those illegal streams are always going to be there because the people hosting them are one step ahead of the broadcaster,” opined Collymore.

“Sooner rather than later if a broadcaster has got five million people watching an illegal stream then isn’t it time they opened up to be able to have Manchester United versus Arsenal available anywhere from the Sky app for example. Suddenly it becomes blurred between all the broadcasters. One day we’ll see one super broadcaster that has the right to broadcast the Premier League anywhere and anytime they want.”

Sports broadcaster and former footballer Gary Lineker, however, isn’t so sure that future is as imminent as is being made out by Collymore. The Match of the Day host argued that people want to watch sports on bigger screens rather than on mobile and believes the real threat to the show is whether the BBC continues to contest for ballooning rights to air match highlights

Having worked at the BBC and Talksport, Collymore is more qualified than most to make forecasts. He was of the first high-profile faces on Twitter in 2010 and in the years since has worked closely with them, most recently on its Periscope live-streaming product.

Armed with all manner of technologies and years of experience in sports broadcasting, Collymore now hopes to capitalise on the value his hate it or love it style of punditry has accrued. It means you’ve got to be mobile and can react to what fans are sharing as well as have the access to get into games, he continued. “Being at the games for me adds credibility to what I do because I can guarantee you that the pundits you see on TV aren’t going to be at 15 live matches nevermind 120 a season, they’ll be down the golf course.”

Mindful that he isn’t going to be universally adored by fans like some of his peers, Collymore thinks there’s enough stock being amassed behind his own brand to help him build the sports network in the future.

“Look at football writers like Henry Winter. You don’t notice what newspaper he works for. You read his stuff because it’s written by him and he’s passed the bar in terms of credibility. He’s been at the Telegraph and the Times and while I don’t buy any of those papers I will click on his link. It’s about the brand; I’m brand Collymore that has an opinion on the Premier League post-match. It doesn’t matter who I work for so I may as well work for me.”

Watch out for The Drum's full interview with Collymore next week.

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