Keith Phipps recently lamented in The Ringer that sports movies as a genre have generally lost their way to the multiplex. Space Jam: A New Legacy, whose theme is to tie big brands together into one movie, is an example of where the genre might be heading. But Phipps notes that the new economics of streaming might open up more opportunities for independent films.
From my perspective as a hobbyist reviewer of over 375 football/soccer movies, I see something a little different.
Whereas Amazon Prime used to provide maybe 100 soccer movies as part of its free-to-members service, it now charges a rental fee for almost all of the movies I had reviewed on its platform. Some of these movies are so bad, I listed them in one post so that I wouldn’t have to bother writing a full review for each one.
It’s pretty clear that Amazon, having won all the eyeballs and dominated all the content, can now charge extra to watch every film, even the bad ones. It’s like the American phrase of nickel and diming you to death, except it’s in $0.99 to $5.99 chunks. That’s what happens when you as a consumer help a company become a behemoth.
Series over features
During the first year of the pandemic, quite a bit of football content was hosted on Amazon Prime and Netflix, although a significant portion of that came in the form of series, mostly original to the platform. Like retail loss leaders, these series retain or draw new subscribers from the sports-related market segment.
Amazon has its All or Nothing series, Netflix hosts Sunderland Til I Die and Club de Cuervos, and AppleTV has Ted Lasso. Series allow creators to tell a longer story with more detailed characters. Series can enhance a brand like Tottenham and Sunderland, or the series leverages a brand’s ability to bring more eyeballs to the streaming platform.
And it goes both ways: ESPN provides movie content as part of its streaming service.
A better streaming place?
So far in 2021, it appears that Netflix has neglected the soccer movie segment, providing little new content. Maybe that’s because worldwide film production almost ceased during the pandemic. But Amazon is still squeezing the last bits of blood out of the turnip that is old soccer movies, creating an additional revenue stream from our tiny market segment.
It seems there is an opportunity to better service the market that is soccer movie viewers. This is the world’s game! With over 1,000 football films in existence, why can’t someone package them into a viable streaming site that services viewers and independent filmmakers? We obviously can’t depend on the behemoths.
Edit on Sep-14-2021: Bloomberg interviewed John Skipper of Meadowlark Media, with interesting insights on the streaming marketplace for sports and complementary content, such as movies and documentaries.