I know that I’m not supposed to publish here today but I woke up this morning to yet another announcement of yet another streaming service putting Arsenal matches behind their paywall. This was for FA Cup matches, which will only be available on ESPN+, and that takes Arsenal fans to what I think is the fourth paywall service that we need to subscribe to in order to watch every Arsenal match.
(Extremely old man voice) When I first started watching Arsenal on TV back in the 90s we had just one channel and the matches were more of a “Match of the Day” format; shrunk down into bite size pieces that they could play between chunks of Hurling and other “weird sports” like Aussie Rules Football (a game that was obviously invented by a drunk person).
Back in these dark days of football I had to pay-per-view the FA Cup final. I want to say the price was $50 but that could just be me, a middle-aged man, remembering things all wrong.
Along came Setanta and before long I was able to watch every single Arsenal match, live, on TV (through my cable package) from either my home or occasionally a local pub. I remember bragging about that. I probably shouldn’t have.
Now, everyone wants a piece of this lucrative product (you are the product!) and they have found that we (the ones being sold) are willing to pay for the right to be sold! Just like Facebook has found that people are willing to work for them for free, the cable companies have realized that Premier League football fans in the USA are happy to shell out $3 a pop to watch a match full of advertisements which are being sold to the advertisers because they know that we are watching! It’s turtles all the way down.
For Premier League matches, most of them will be on NBCSN or one of the NBC channels. This you can see through your regular cable package. I use YouTubeTV which costs me $50 a month or $500 total. I’m not including my internet costs here which is another $500 because I would have internet regardless of whether I watched Arsenal but I wouldn’t have YouTube TV.
NBC will be putting a number of their matches behind their online subscription only package, NBC Gold Premier League Pass. For that privilege, I will have to pay an additional $50. We are now up to $550.
FA Cup matches will only be available on ESPN+, which is $5 a month, so, depending on how long we are in that competition, that’s another $5-25. Let’s just say we go all the way, we are now up to $575.
The good news is that ESPN+ will also have the League Cup matches so that’s a huge savings!
And then finally, we have the Europa League matches. Those will only be available on the Bleacher Report Live service. Two Champions League matches will be available on TNT per (week?) but all the remaining Champions League and Europa League matches will be behind their B/R Live paywall. Interestingly, they have an ala carte pricing model and you could get away with buying just the Arsenal games for $3 each. If Arsenal play 14 matches again this season (we are guaranteed 6 matches) that’s another $42. The UEFA League pass is $80, and I will probably skip that.
That takes my total outlay to watch Arsenal on TV to $617 or about £480.
Post Script: hey, you really need to check out Grimbo’s new project called “VetsGrow”. Grimbo (also known as Matt Grimshaw) is a Gooner and was a contributor to this site back in the olden days. Now he’s an American, a motorcyclist, and a documattarian. And he’s working on a documentary film about veterans growing their own medicinal marijuana to help with PTSD and other ailments. I am a staunch advocate of medical marijuana and support this project 100%. You can check out Episode 1 below and make sure you subscribe to see the whole story.. grow!