So the cat has crawled rather quietly out of the bag: there will be live streaming of qualifiers and PTCs this season.
In addition, territories currently not served by live television coverage of major tournaments will now have access to them online.
World Snooker has set up livesnooker.tv with Perform, world leaders in internet sports streaming.
Qualifiers and PTCs remain free on betting websites if you have a funded account but are available in higher quality (the streaming, not the matches) on the bespoke website.
Full details are hard to come by but it appears to be £29.99 for a year’s viewing in the UK and Europe (or £2.99 a month) and £39.99 (or £3.99 a month) elsewhere – it costs more outside the UK and Europe because you get access to more tournaments as TV deals with the BBC and Eurosport prohibit absolutely everything being available to absolutely everyone.
It was all rather strange this morning when the streaming suddenly appeared but having seen first hand how these pictures are produced I’m not that surprised that a ‘soft launch’ (and it was certainly that) was favoured.
This is not just a matter of fixing a webcam to a table. It takes a lot of planning and all sorts of things in the production process can and do go wrong when you are setting up something new.
Thankfully Perform know what they are doing. They are responsible for streaming all manner of sport all over the world and produce the Championship League snooker event, which has run successfully for the last four years.
It appears the qualifiers will have two tables streamed, each with two camera coverage, graphics and, eventually, commentary.
From what I saw earlier today the coverage was excellent.
It has all come about in a rather understated way but, really, who cares? The bottom line is that it’s great news that there will now be professionally done streaming of snooker that has for too long been played under the radar.
For many it will be a chance to watch the qualifiers for the first time. And, of course, the PTCs feature snooker’s biggest names.
The world has come a long way since black and white television and the late, great Ted Lowe sat in the audience whispering his commentaries.
I was actually involved in a small way with the first attempt to stream snooker online more than a decade ago when I worked for TSN.
At the Regal Masters in Scotland we had our own studio and it had an anarchic ‘Wayne’s World’ feel to it a world away from the more formal TV presentation. When we interviewed players we showed them every respect but not too much deference and asked them questions fans would want answering (including, if I remember correctly, “have you ever dressed as a woman?”)
It had a few surreal moments too, notably when someone pressed a button inadvertently and viewers were treated to a few seconds of studio guest Phil Yates wolfing down his dinner.
The problem back then was that this was pre-broadband and watching on dial up led to buffering and the screen freezing (please no jokes about how, with some players, you couldn’t tell the difference).
Technology is vastly improved now and, with the game finally going places again, the streaming will allow fans to follow more snooker than ever before, as well as giving some of the lower ranked players some exposure.
Find out more here.