Web of Intrigue 

In his article this week Paul Balm says it’s about time all EIHL clubs offered a webcast.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter (don’t worry if you don’t, you’re not missing much) will know that I was in the pub with a couple of friends quite a lot over the weekend and given that there was nothing at all to moan about regarding on ice performances we started talking about the off-ice things that the Panthers do well and in our opinion badly and that led inevitably to the current lack of a webcast for games. As ever I held forth at length on the subject and later on, when I mentioned that I hadn’t got an idea for this week’s column yet it was suggested that I share those thoughts with you all. So, essentially, blame Jono for this.


Before I start I think it only fair of me to point out that I don’t have any inside knowledge of any of the teams and as a result the comments that I make or figures that I use in this article are speculation and you could say that, as a result, there’s little point putting them forward but I hope you don’t. I may not know the numbers but I feel that the arguments are at least worth considering.


Panthers don’t do webcasts. Why not? I don’t know really. There seem to be two arguments used that amount to the same thing – there won’t be until every game is a sell out and you will lose money because people won’t go to games if they can watch it at home and save money. I’m not entirely sure that’s correct. You will get some people who will watch the webcast to save money but you will also get a lot more people who were never going to the game anyway who will watch the webcast. Let me give you an example of this. A family of four all attend Panthers games but weekends like the triple header in Scotland we’ve just seen are beyond them because they can’t afford it. However they can, and will, pay the £16 (£24 if Braehead provided this service) for a webcast. Is that money lost or money gained? There won’t be just one family or individual in this position either, there’s a lot of people out there that can’t, or won’t, for whatever reason get to games but want to watch them.


The figures seem to back this up as well. If you look at the attendance figures for the last two full seasons they’re about the same. Some teams have seen an increase in attendances (and I admit Nottingham and Braehead are amongst those but possibly for different reasons) some have seen a drop but it’s about a 50/50 split amongst those that do so it can’t be laid at webcasts’ door.


I will concede that there are teams out there who stand to get more money from webcasts than the Panthers would. Nottingham is fairly central and is one of the shorter journeys for a lot of teams and their fans. This is where teams like Belfast and Hull (potentially) do so well from webcasts (again I don’t know any figures) as their geographical location in Belfast’s case and their inclusion in a conference with teams a longer distance away (in Hull’s case) mean that potentially fewer fans will travel to them and will take up the webcast instead.


So where does the fault lie? Well, for a start I think fault is a bit of a strong word to use but I can’t think of a better one right now. It would be easy to throw names into the ring and say it was all down to them but there’s a fly in that ointment – Braehead. The Clan don’t do webcasts either. Now, their attendances are growing steadily (as are Panthers) but they’re reaching the point where they are selling out quite often so given the arguments that have been used in the past isn’t it time that they should be looking at a webcast? 


Personally, I think that any team that isn’t providing this service is short-sighted. It isn’t about selling or not selling DVDs (people will still buy them regardless of how they watched it if they want to). It isn’t about losing ticket revenue it’s about creating a different revenue stream and maybe, just maybe attracting people to games in your rink/arena/whatever who may not have been before. 


The future isn’t entirely rosy for webcasts though. Right now the majority of them provide a single feed with commentary (although I thoroughly enjoyed the Fife v Panthers test webcast from a couple of season’s ago that didn’t have any commentary and the only sound was the crowd baying for Rab Cowan’s blood) but no replays or interval highlights. That’s OK for now as we’re only just getting used to better quality streams with fewer outages and loss of sound or picture but human nature is that people will want more for their money. We’ve seen improvements in quality over the last couple of years which was needed and is greatly appreciated by all those viewing.  Over time I think you’ll find people beginning to want/demand something more akin to television coverage and teams will have to move, if they haven’t already, towards giving them what they want. That is, I believe, some time away and we need all teams to be offering webcasts before the groundswell of opinion starts turning to the improvements in content. You can already see that happening in Coventry where they’ve moved to providing their webcast in full HD (something I remember Aaron Lord getting shot down for even suggesting as a “nice to have” a couple of seasons ago), all they’ve got to do now is sort the lights, goal and spend a few quid to have the same number of officials as everyone else and they’ll be laughing.


I said at the start that I don’t know all the facts and as I wrote this that became increasingly obvious to myself (and probably you reading this). If I’ve got anything wrong use the ‘Leave a Comment’ feature to tell me. At the same time use the lines of communication open to you to tell those clubs that don’t provide this service that they are missing out on your business and why. Ask them why they don’t  do it. Tell them there is a market out there and that way they can’t say that there isn’t.

1 Response to “Web of Intrigue ”

  1. 1 JohnnyfromDonny March 4, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Agree wholeheartedly with your rationale. As a former @steelershockey season ticket holder now living in Bolton, I rarely manage a live game due to overall cost but rarely miss a webcast including many away games too. Steelers webcasts take some beating and the best play by play commentator is between Seth Bennett and Jonathan Fearnley.

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