10th March 2023 - By: alda09x024

Is the 3pm Blackout on Its Way Out?

Is the 3pm blackout on its way out?

Broadcasting companies are paying millions to buy the rights to the Premier League. The value of the Premier League is undeniable. Football is arguably the biggest sport in the UK, watched and played by millions of fans.

As a football fan, it’s surprising to find out not everyone is keen on the idea of all live football being broadcast.

What is the 3pm Blackout?

The 3pm blackout (or football blackout) often refers to the ban on televised football at 3pm on a Saturday. From 2:45pm – 5:25pm it isn’t permitted to televise any Premier League, Football League, or FA Cup game.

Introduced in 1960 and proposed by Burnley chairman Bob Lord, the ban on 3pm games being televised was to counteract the negative impacts it would have on lower division teams. Over 60 years later, the legislation is still in place today.

The blackout aims to stop fans choosing to watch Premier League games rather than attending live matches, with the benefit of increased financial income for lower division teams, so if you head to the pub around 3pm to watch a Premier League game you’ll be waiting a long time. Pubs are prohibited to show any live stream but if you really need your football fix, radio stations are allowed to broadcast live commentary.

The impact on consuming football

For some, football fans the blackout is outdated. With the rising cost of football tickets and the cost-of-living crisis, attending live games isn’t a viable option for some. However, the football blackout is still used as an incentive for fans to attend lower division matches. For fans who are slightly stubborn, the blackout offers opportunities to consume football and other sport in different ways such as:

  • Attending local/non-league matches
  • Watching highlight shows, such as Match of the Day
  • Watching other sport

As we all know, watching highlights isn’t as exciting as watching the game live, however, it does act as a silver lining. If you are a big football fan like me, I’m sure you have fond memories of watching Match of the Day before your Sunday League kick off. Now, I’m not saying that the 3pm blackout is the cause of happy childhood memories, but it does give opportunities for the distribution of football content. Without it there would be no need for shows such as Match of the Day – causing 3pm on a Saturday to be dominated by football.

If you removed the ban, the majority of football fans would be happy, although other sports would struggle to get broadcasted due to such high demand for football. Therefore, the football blackout also acts as incentive to consume other sports to ‘fill the void’.

The way we watch football is changing

It’s safe to say that in the last 20 years the way we consume media has changed. The development of social media has affected our expectations of how we receive media. News and entertainment are disposable, instant and in our control. We choose what we see, when we see it and how we see it.

This is leading fans to find alternative ways to consume football, most commonly through online streaming or social media highlights. Most of us are guilty of trying to find a live stream online and even if we can’t, goals and events from a non-televised game will be uploaded to social media within minutes.

If you aren’t interested in instant updates for those slower games or you’re too busy watch, don’t panic -full games and highlights are posted on YouTube, just hours after the final whistle.

There is also enough content being uploaded to social media that fans don’t need to watch the game live to know what’s happened.

Although the football blackout has been in play for 60 years, new ways of consuming media are changing the game. Find out what we think sports broadcasting will look like in another 10 years or learn what Gen Z really want and see how they want to consume it.