Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

England in net loss

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The first England football match to be broadcast only over the internet resulted in a 1-0 defeat for England – the team’s only dropped points in World Cup qualification thus far.

The agencies involved claimed the broadcast was a success (well, they would, wouldn’t they?), denying in the process some claims of poor picture quality, although the experience – regardless of the result for England fans – seems to have been a somewhat mixed one. Final viewing figures won’t be released but were less than half a million, with some of these being the somewhat captive audience of British Forces Broadcasting. Subscriptions were also capped at a level at least twice the actual audience and, even then, way below what the terrestrial audience might otherwise have been while, as Rory Cellan-Jones’s blog documents, there are a myriad alternative net-based ways which are available – and for free.

Elsewhere, Libby Purves in The Times today raises some interesting issues of the extent to which people are prepared to pay for online content (and not only with an eye to her boss’s determination to start charging for online access to The Times and other media in the Murdoch stable). One of the criticisms of the England footie net-based transmission was whether the charge was ‘worth it’; this no doubt reflects rather dubious picture quality which, this side of widespread fibre deployment, was always going to be jumpy, but, in a world in which the net is largely a ‘free’ experience, comments on Saturday night’s experience are, aside of the debate as to whether certain things should be free to air, interesting ones for content providers. I don’t necessarily agree with the wider edges of Purves’s comments, not least her comments around the internet being set up by academics rather than by business leaders; it is true that content-oriented business models have tended to assume the priority of getting a web presence first and worrying about recouping costs later – with hindsight, this would appear to be something of a mistake.

But, I do agree with her that ‘nothing costs nothing’. The net’s essentially free nature is, in paradoxical contrast to much of what else is going on in our commercialised society, including Sky’s assumption of much of sports broadcasting, probably one of the greatest reasons for its success thus far, but we do also need to recognise that there are costs associated with that which, not least in the journalism industry, convey a heavy load.


Written by Calvin

12/10/2009 at 1:37 pm

Posted in Communications policy

Tagged with ,

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