110sport.tv, who stream the qualifiers, will this weekend branch out by showing a live boxing bout.

Perform, who show the Championship League, won the exclusive rights to broadcast the Ukraine v England World Cup qualifier last weekend.

They had half a million subscribers paying £12 a pop. In the words of an annoying teenage American girl in an annoying teenage American film: you do the math!

The internet could well revolutionise the way we view sport.

For those who doubt this and suggest that nobody wants to switch from watching their TV sets to huddling round a computer, it’s worth remembering that 60 years ago few believed television could ever usurp the radio.

110sport, or TSN as they were then known, attempted to pioneer webcasting of snooker a decade ago, showing the Scottish Masters and other events.

This was an age before broadband and so the comfort of watching depended on the strength of your connection.

For many snooker fans it was like those magic eye pictures newspapers used to publish at around the same time. You remember them: you’d stare at a distorted image for ten minutes until, finally, you got a headache.

These early 110 webcasts, in which I played a small part myself, were fun and relaxed. Sometimes too relaxed: viewers were once treated to a few seconds of a studio-bound Phil Yates eating his dinner, which is now probably the mainstay of one of the satellite channels towards the end of the Sky platform.

The technology has now changed to the extent that it is now possible to kick back and enjoy sport on the internet just as one would on the TV.

110’s coverage of the qualifiers is of TV broadcast standard. The Eurosport Player and BBC website offer fans a chance to watch every ball potted – and missed – from major tournaments if they so desire.

Watching online has its clear advantages. You can do so at work providing your boss doesn’t see you and can also watch on a train or beach or...well, wherever you can get a connection.

And you aren’t in the lap of the TV schedulers deciding when to broadcast their programmes.

Plus – and here’s the biggie – it’s global.

110 plan further events next year. Their chief executive, David MacKinnon, told me in an interview for the Sunday Herald last month that: “I honestly think snooker’s best years are still to come.

“It is hugely popular around the world and we will be running a number of events in 2010 in those areas where there is a market for the game. Despite what people say, snooker is alive and kicking.”

Indeed it is, and I hope the proliferation of small, independent tournaments that include 110’s events, the World Series, the Championship League, the Six Reds in Ireland, ONE FOR SEVEN, seniors events and any other showcase for our game can help to improve snooker’s fortunes by providing fans with action to watch in between all the majors.

The internet will play a large role in making this a reality, just as colour television did 40 years ago.

It may even be the sport's saviour.


jamie brannon said...

Some people have said the picture quality was not much good for the England game. I cant believe people are advocating this, people are already paying for the internet so to make events pay per view is just greed. All these changes like six reds and pay per view sport are nothing more than money grabbing ideas from money grabbing people. Im not against some sport online, but it should be free. I think 12 quid is outrageous to watch 1 game of football. What gets me is people moan about football is all money led and then you have journalist and supporters lapping up these mercenary concepts.

Dave H said...

What absolute tosh.

It's called business: if you don't want it, don't pay for it.

Last time I looked TV wasn't free either.

Anonymous said...

you pay for your tv?

Anonymous said...

Well i watched last weeks England game on bet 365 for free, anyone paying £12 must have money to waste.

jamie brannon said...

This is what I dont get with you, if anyone disagrees with you then you try and belittle someone else's comment. I am entitled to my view and dont think it deserved to be dismissed as tosh. I know the captialist world we live in but I still dont think its the right way. I know we pay for tv and am a supporter of the tv licence, but you think it is alright then to start charging people extra, we are in a recession not everyone can afford those prices. We hear all this about reaching out to a bigger audience, but how is this going to happen by pricing a lot of people out. The England game on tv would have got 6 million rather than 500,000. What Im saying is this initiative suits only the wealthy shouldn't we trying to reach out to the biggest audience possible? Look at boxing pay per view has ruined that sport. I think there is too much greed especially when you consider all the poverty in the world. There is nothing tosh about a statement like that.

jamie brannon said...

Im not against a subscription for the site, like you have with Sky Sports and Espn, but each event is a joke. I mean when Sky charge for boxing it is scandalous. Also it wasn't anything personal Dave, i just didn't agree with everything you said

Dave H said...

Yes you are entitled to your view. However this doesn't make it right.

Some readers may remember that there was once a world before the internet when people paid for goods and services instead of demanding everything for free.

The England game wasn't on TV because TV wouldn't pay for it.

If 110 didn't charge for their services the company would go bust.

This isn't greed, it's business.

Anonymous said...

Not the best night for 110 sport to be showing this, surely there's more interest in the Froch v Dirrell fight.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Technology has made viewing habits vastly different these days. But, if there is a fanbase - as 110sport have found it - then people will pay for it.

Of course, folk are entitled to be annoyed if you are paying a broadband fee, AND THEN paying another subsciption fee for a service.

Just on a football note. That fee the BBC squeezed out at the last minute for the highlight rights last Saturday was v.interesting.

Now we are seeing a battle between SPA and WSA, and all these various innovative tournaments taking place before Christmas - and the various ones that took place in the summer - can I ask a silly question: Are any of these tournaments endorsed or sanctioned by the WSA?

Does the World Series or Premier League come with rubber stamped officialdom?

I presume they don't! If not, why not? Getting the WSA's backing for all these tournaments would get people around the table and may have made things easier in the long run!

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

What's happening with the seniors events, wasnt there supposed to be some announcement in the last few weeks?

Dave H said...

There will be a seniors event shown on 110sport in November.

Joe - the events don't require a WPBSA sanction. They used to but the 110sport court action of 2001 forced a change.

John Higgins was on the WPBSA side then, which is something of an irony as his World Series would very probably not be on now if the old rules still existed.

Nobody was more vehemently pro the WPBSA position than Peter Ebdon, who has now signed for 110sport and will presumably play in their events, which again may not have taken place but for the court action he opposed.

Of course, people change their minds and in the case of John, the efforts he is making the spread the snooker gospel in Europe and beyond should be commended.

Anonymous said...

Cheers, Dave!

So really, since 2001, the WPBSA don't hold any overall control over most events, save for the paltry ones they're offering at the mo.

If this is the case, then I can certainly see a split - like what cuemasters wanted - in 2000/01.

We could go back to that idea of 2 tours again.

This isn't healthy for the sport, is it?

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

There won't be a split but there could well be an almighty ruck.

The decade pretty much began with everyone fighting and it's going to end in much the same way, taking the game down with it I'm afraid.

Betty Logan said...

I agree with the spirit of your post Dave - and the internet is the future for snooker - but you're not quite right about how it will be shaped. England football matches will always be an exception, but the reality is people aren't going to huddle around the computer to watch snooker matches except hardened fans. There might be enough of them to support a pay-per-view service but no-one ideally wants to watch live sport on a little computer monitor. Indeed I don't watch snooker on my computer unless it's a match I really want to see whereas I will casually watch it on TV. But...and this is a big 'but'...using your PC to watch internet streamed programming is already fast becoming an obsolete concept.

Channel 4 for instance has just done a deal with Youtube which is going to revolutionise 'internet viewing' and will ultimately map out the future for anyone who wants to put snooker on TV - not your PC or laptop but your actual television! Channel 4 is going to put its entire catalogue on Youtube making it possible for anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world to watch their programmes. Big deal you might ask, how is this different to 4od or iplayer? The key difference here is that Youtube is starting to be integrated into many other devices: the iphone for one; and the new range of Blu-ray players have started integrating YouTube. That means if its on YouTube you can watch it on your nice lovely big TV in your comfy armchair through your Blu-Ray player! The number of channels is limitless. The potential is boundless.

The problem with streamed content has always been the interface. If you wanted to watch streamed content on your TV you needed to buy a special device. How many casual snooker watchers would go out of their way to buy one? But by integrating YouTube into the new generation of Blu-ray/DVD players it makes internet viewing on TV a casual and simple process. The only snag so far is that Youtube doesn't do live streaming - at least on a wide scale. This is going to change in the next 18 months though, and as TV equipment proliferates with integrated YouTube facilities then anyone who wants to put live snooker on TV can do! In 2012 we will all be watching tournaments organised by Global Snooker on our TVs.

The only question that remains is in regards to how ISPs are going to handle the load. Will the internet break? Or will they charge people more for a YouTube subscription. I suspect the latter, so you could end up paying for an internet connection, a YouTube subscription from your ISP and possibly a pay-per-view charge to watch the actual content, so if there are any obstacles to putting snooker on TV in the future they will be financial rather than technological. But limitless snooker is coming to your TVs folks.


Anonymous said...

i actually remember jamie going off on one a few times AT people on here who had different viewpoints to his, so i am not surprised that when you replied in the fashion you did dave that he tried to make out he was being "picked on"

Anonymous said...

Agreed 7:32am

jamie brannon said...

I took exception to it being dismissed as tosh, i expected more constructive criticism than that. I know im not right as there is no right or wrong in this debate. I understand 110 sport want a subscription like Sky, but don't then make everyone pay extra as most won't as they can't afford to which means the game won't reach the largest audience, surely if you are promoting a sport then you want as big as an audience as possible. 110 sport just want the money there not bothered about getting kids playing snooker. The reason tv usurped radio is that is far better platform to watch sport, but the internet is not anyway as I dont see how it betters tv, Betty Logan is totally talking sense that only the hardcore want to watch snooker on a small computer screen. For the record the bbc offered 1.5 million for the England game, but went instead for the three million they got off Perform.

Dave H said...

I actually said it was 'absolute tosh'

'110sport just want the money'

A business wanting money. Whatever next?

Remind me where you could watch the qualifiers on the internet last season?

jamie brannon said...

You dont get what im saying. Take money for a subscription, but not pay per view for each event, cant believe you think that is okay. No but you write the piece as if they are doing it for the good of game. I personally think it shows a lack of class to call someone's view absolute tosh, there is nothing constructive about it. I dont remember dismissing your views, its only because ever since we disagreed about Ronnie being the best sight in the game you have got in your head that I argue with you on anything.

Dave H said...

I think you may need a lie down

Anonymous said...

thats the spirit dave. tell it like it is.

for the record if i disagree with dave i say so, but to tell someone how to "speak" on his own website is OTT, especially give Jamies history on here.

Anonymous said...

Who's to say that 110 Sport's current model isn't a forerunner of a snooker satellite channel - and then we'd be able to see all of our old TSN mates like Hendo, Ruthie and Doddie and the players in FRONT of the cameras again?

jamie brannon said...

Dave, I dont need a lie down I believe that my view is valid. 110 Sport should have an annual subscription for it's service and the rest of the money should come from advertising. The future is not the internet for snooker, not for major events anyway. I mean surely no one is advocating a pay per view world final? I hope your comment above was meant in jest as I have never been anything less than a fair blogger on here, and have never lowered myself to the abuse you get from certain posters on here.

Anonymous said...

yes you have jamie. youve done it to me on more than one occasion, hence i recognise your name and ive seen you do it with others too.

at the end of the day, dave wasnt giving out offence, but somehow you are taking it.

jamie brannon said...

How would i know, you have no name. I perhaps overeacted to say I was offended, but I cant see why Dave couldnt just disagree without calling it tosh, but I hold no grudges. I personally feel though a business will get away with ripping us off more and more if we don,t say something. 110 Sport have the right to make money but I think charging extra after you have paid a subscription fee is an example. It may be business but that doesnt make it right. I mean in football they will probably have premier league matches abroad, this could be called a business decision, but too me is saying up yours to the loyal fans and milking as much money as they can even though in most instances they dont really need it.

Anonymous said...

to be fair i think what you wrote at 2:50 is a load of tosh, but not "absolute tosh" so i hope you dont take offence as ive changed the term dave used.

Anonymous said...

Watch ya bak 5-30pm he gets letters mixed up, is real name is Bronson ........ Dave beware.............BANG ...........helloooooo

Anonymous said...

Lots of toadying up to Dave on this thread. His first response was rude and dismissive, not for the first time. I get the feeling you are a 'my way or the highway' kind of person.