The WatchLOI streaming service was a blessing to League of Ireland fans during the extended 2020 campaign.
It gave fans at home and abroad the opportunity to enjoy the finest Premier Division and FAI Cup action during the first lockdown.
The service was an instant success. Overachieving on user numbers and overall been enjoyed by fans.
In an ideal world, no self-respecting fan would choose sitting at home over going to a game live if they can help it.
Nothing beats walking through those turnstiles on a Friday night.
The warmth of a scarf around your neck, the smell of the flares lingering just after kick-off and dissecting the match with the same regular faces as we shuffle out of the ground afterwards, all things we sorely miss.
While everyone is eager to get our Friday nights back, it certainly won’t be happening come March.
We will all be cheering our teams on from afar once again. Hoping that 2021 will be the year we can safely support local football once again.
Ireland still finds itself in the clutches of this horrible pandemic. With domestic football returning in March, it will be played out behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.
This means it’s safe to say we will see the much-needed return of WatchLOI.
Even when fans can safely return to grounds, the service should remain, it’s a fantastic platform for the league. Fans that live abroad or can’t make it to games should have the option to tune in on a Friday night.
Of course, it wasn’t perfect.
Like every service starting off it had its teething problems, some more irksome than others.
While us fans rejoiced having the service available at the click of a button, another year should see vital upgrades.
The off season should suffice as enough time to work out the initial kinks and make the needed adjustments.
So, that’s what we will be chatting about today. Let’s take a glance at some realistic changes we would like to see to WatchLOI.
There may be something we haven’t mentioned. So, let us know what improvements you would like to see in the comment section below.
Tweaks to Commentary
Personally speaking, this is the one aspect I’d really like to see get a good overhaul.
By all means, don’t get rid of every single commentator from last season. The likes of Peter Collins for example brings a good professional tone to proceedings, mainly in the bigger games.
However, the answer isn’t brining in more notable Irish commentators like Pat Fenlon or Brian Kerr.
Towards the end of last season, a new voice popped up on the platform in Jamie Moore. Moore is involved with St. Patricks Athletic as the under 19s Head Coach and is a key member of their media team.
He provided a more fan friendly laid-back approach. While adding good knowledge of the league and players.
Bringing in genuine fans of the league with a media background should be the way to go.
Get a variety of people throughout the country. With the quality of speaking voice and knowledge of the league being essential factors.
Most importantly, make it a commentary team of two people. Let them bounce off each other, talking by yourself for 90 minutes and trying to remain enthusiastic and insightful must be a nightmare.
If anyone involved with the recruitment of commentators is reading, I always have my CV handy, just saying.
Also, without sounding mean, no more Siobhan Madigan. The basic errors are just draining at this point.
To say some of the camera work last season was dodgy would be an understatement.
Anytime a goalkeeper kicked the ball long downfield, you almost felt seasick as the camera vigorously chased after it.
The picture quality also left a lot to be desired in certain games.
Additional cameras should also be present at matches. Different views and angles will enhance the viewing experience. Sports teams around the country at a lower level have multiple cameras at games, it should be something introduced in 2021.
Realistically, these should be all the minimum of changes this season. First Division sides did their own streaming of games and had much better quality than WatchLOI.
Still employee that camera man that popped his head into shot to clear the rain off the lens when Bohs played Cork, that was hilarious.
Thanks to the invention of smart phones, plenty of us football fans consume matches differently.
Instead of watching the game and using half time to go about other business, we just watch them in instalments.
Whether we scroll endlessly through Twitter, text our mates about the game we are half watching or glancing at our betting apps to see if we fancy a flutter. Either way, we spend a good portion of a match not actually watching the match.
Attention spans of squirrels the lot of us.
So, nothing worse when you’re balls deep into Twitter and you hear the commentator rant and rave about a stunning goal.
“No worries” says you, you’ll just see this peach of a strike when the replay comes on.
Not if you’re viewing on WatchLOI you won’t. You must go back to your previous Twitter scrolling to wait for the video to land on there. Resulting in you missing even more of the game.
Sort it out and give us replays.
More Than the Premier Division
Thankfully, I’m a Saints fan and was blessed to get to see my team play on a weekly basis during lockdown last season.
Other fans didn’t have this luxury.
The inclusion of not only the First Division, but possibly the Women’s National League is one many of us would like to see on WatchLOI.
I know people say the viewership and interest wouldn’t be there, they could always dip in and out.
Show games every now and again if you don’t want to fully committee to airing the full fixture list of the First Division and WNL.
Showcase the likes of Peamount United from the Women’s National League.
That league has got a good boost due to the sponsorship of SSE Airtricity. Now would be the ideal time to at least put some games on this platform.
In fairness the price of the service last season was very reasonable.
€55 for a domestic pass, €69 for an overseas pass and a fiver per individual game, really turned out to be a bargain.
This time around, we will have to pay for a full fixture list. So, I don’t think many fans would mind paying that little bit extra.
Obviously, you wouldn’t want them to whack the price up that much. The service also needs to be improved to justify the raised price.
You could also change up the pricing list.
Give fans an option to only pay for their club’s games at a set price. Most fans would just pay for every league game, but diverse options could suit other people.
The current price may also be an issue when fans do return.
It’s very cheap and might hinder fans going out in the cold to sit in the stands. They have the easy option of paying €5 and just staying at home. This would again reduce the amount of matchday revenue a club can generate.
While not everyone will do that, you will have fans somewhat hesitant to return to grounds straight away.
It would also be ideal to see advertisement slots become available during a broadcast. Put them in at half time, before, after, and even during a game. It just makes sense for those running WatchLOI to bring in additional income.
This could all help improve and expand the service.