ABU DHABI // Fans of English Premier League football yesterday welcomed news that they will be able to watch football matches streamed live over the internet next season. When the 2010-11 season begins in August, fans will have three options for viewing: on a computer, through internet protocol television or with a satellite television set-top box.
The online offerings were announced on Wednesday by the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), the owner and publisher of The National, which signed a three-year deal last year for broadcast rights in the Middle East and North Africa. Mark Lynch, 32, the chairman of the local Manchester City supporters club, said: "I watched my first internet game of the season the other week and it was very good. I have a two-megabyte connection at home, and the quality was pretty impressive."
Mr Lynch said he would not want to watch games exclusively online, however. "I would still much rather watch a match in the pub with my mates. You miss out on the atmosphere if you watch it on your own at home," he said. "[But] there are other advantages to watching it online. You don't have the interruptions that you get with satellites, like sandstorms and problems that you get with the weather," he said.
ADMC will formally gain broadcast rights in June. Showtime, the satellite pay-TV broadcaster, is showing the games this season. Telecommunications analysts said Gulf countries such as the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar had sufficient broadband capacity for people to view matches online. But fans in places such as Yemen, Oman and the Palestinian Territories would probably have to rely on satellite receivers.