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New online Premier League service slated

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 10:21 31/07/2013

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The company that is putting English Premier League games online has acknowledged some fans are disappointed by the quality of the video and audio, but says it is managing a "trade off".

Coliseum announced in June that it had outbid Sky Television to snaffle the New Zealand rights to the EPL. It began signing up subscribers to its service, PremierLeaguePass, on Monday, charging $150 for a season pass to all 360 EPL fixtures.

The season has not yet started, but a free video designed to show prospective customers the quality they can expect from the service is online and has been slated by several commentators on technology website Geekzone.

Wellingtonian Arsenal-fan Richard Green said it was "laughable" and he would not sign up despite having ultrafast broadband, a 55-inch television and a "borderline obsession" with the EPL.

"If you then flick to Sky Sports HD and compare, it is like stepping back in time 10 years or more."

Another poster complained that "when the ball is moving at speed it kinda gets lost in the background".

Coliseum chief executive Tim Martin said EPL matches would be streamed online at a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels at just under 30 frames a second and at 3000 kilobits per second, while the audio was stereo. In his view, the video should look great, even on a 55-inch television.

"I know some people are going to complain it's not in HD but the quality is still extremely high," he said.

"The trade off with it not being HD is you get every game. Some people are disappointed about the fact it is not Dolby 5.1 sound, but eventually the technology will allow us to get there."

PremierLeaguePass marks the first serious attempt by rival entrepreneurs to chip away at Sky Television's monopoly of paid sports broadcasting and Martin said he expected to "cop a lot of flack".

"We are the guys doing the inevitable 'first'. People are going to have to embrace their greatest fear and deal with the internet."

Financial analyst Morningstar has estimated PremierLeaguePass would need to attract about 13,000 paying subscribers for Coliseum to break even.

Martin said that estimate was "close-ish" and he was confident the venture would prove profitable. 

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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