Following the début given to World Snooker’s new streaming service yesterday, we have now had a chance to digest the news, assess the coverage and also to consider the viability of the initiative. Will it work?
For a number of years now there has been a section of snooker fans that has campaigned for the introduction of online streaming, initially for qualifying tournaments and more recently for the PTC events which while great for the players, have proven inaccessible for fans unable to follow the action thanks to a poor livescores service and a lack of live streaming.
Times are changing however and following the introduction last season of a much-improved livescoring system, World Snooker have now introduced live-streaming at this week’s Shanghai Masters, covering two tables per session and giving fans the opportunity to finally watch matches that are of an increasingly high standard with the strength in depth on the 99 man main tour.
As explained yesterday, fans will be able to watch the service for free (following an initial deposit of £5.00 anyway) over on betting websites such as bet365 or Betfair, or alternatively pay £2.99 per month to watch via World Snooker’s new TV service (see more here).
As far as the quality of the service is concerned I can speak only for the free service with the bookmakers at this stage but the quality is more than good enough, near-identical to that offered for the well-established Championship League tournament, unsurprising given that the same company are running the show.
For fans such as myself who follow the sport closely then it goes without saying that this is excellent news and opens up the opportunity to watch more matches than ever before. I have been to the World Championship qualifiers for the past three years and in many ways have enjoyed the action as much as, if not more than some of the snooker at the Crucible stages so have seen first-hand just how high the standard can be.
I am not blind however to the fact that snooker fans come in all shapes and sizes and with varying degrees of interest in the sport. Some will like me be interested in the professional tour right down to the bottom, some only the televised majors and some will fall somewhere in between and I am interested to see just how many of you are actually interested in watching the qualifiers and/or PTCs.
As well as being nosy, it is of interest because ultimately the livestreaming can only be sustainable if sufficient revenue is generated from viewers, either directly by those subscribing to the World Snooker service or indirectly via the bookmaers. Only time will tell as to whether this will work in the long term, but from the point of view of a fan who is interested in watching these matches, I sincerely hope that it is.
Will you pay for the service? I must confess that at this stage I personally do not see a reason to subscribe to the World Snooker service as I am perfectly happy with the stream provided by the bookmakers – but this could change depending on the official service. For example will footage be archived? For someone like me who has a full-time job, if I could watch the matches that I will inevitably miss during working hours later in the day then I could be persuaded to part with my cash. Alternatively a highlights package, something akin to football’s Match of the Day could also be worth exploring. It is very early days so we shall see how it does develop.
I have created a couple of polls above for you to cast your verdict and would be interested to hear any of your comments or questions on the subject.