It was good whilst it lasted. Those lucky enough to be back at Plainmoor for the few games that fans were allowed in would all agree how fantastic it was to be back supporting the team in person. Credit goes to everyone associated with the club who worked hard to make Plainmoor a safe and covid compliant stadium to watch football.
Sadly, with covid cases rising to new record levels and hospitals all across the country once again struggling to cope, it came at no surprise to see the government introduce stricter restrictions on the nation and place most counties into Tier 3 & Tier 4.
With this, football stadiums would once again close to supporters and elite football matches would continue to be played without a crowd once more.
Whether you believe sport should continue or stop, one thing that looks set to continue into 2021 is the use of live streaming National League & FA Trophy matches.
As a supporter who lives away from the beautiful county of Devon, the option of livestreams has been one of the few positives to come away from 2020. From being limited to only watching a handful of games live per season, now I can watch most of Torquay United’s matches, home or away.
I wasn’t sure at first whether livestreams would be allowed, considering BT Sport currently hold the rights to the National League. However once it became clear that all clubs would be setting up their own streams, I was excited that I would be able to follow my team live, just not from the comforts of the Popside and instead from the warm comforts of my living room.
Having viewed the majority of all Torquay fixtures this season, one thing that stands out is how much time, effort and improvement the club have put into these streams and how well they provide value for money to us as supporters.
Instead of being limited to computers & tablets, you could view matches through smart TVs’, gaming consoles or casting to your TV. Being able to watch games directly on my TV has been excellent for me as a fan and it’s so easy to do as well. It surprises me how many clubs charge more than us but don’t have this feature available. I appreciate clubs have been using different providers for their streaming, but it’s always a frustration when I am unable to cast the game through my TV.
It only took one stream before the implementation of replays were introduced (take note Kings Lynn). A few streams later and the club extended the coverage to include more pre match coverage and fancy artistic graphics.
It’s another aspect of the club that has become much more professional in recent years and for that the club deserve credit. Personally for me, £9 it’s an absolute bargain and it’s also welcome income to the club.
Is it perfect? No. The qualify of the stream does dip at times, especially for night games and this time of year when there is little in the way of sunlight. However that is my only criticism and is something that all the other clubs I’m sure have the same issue. I can look past that, considering the expense of a new camera just for the purpose of streaming where all clubs are trying to watch their finances would be silly.
One thing I am especially grateful for is that our club’s cameras do not use “Ball tracking technology”. I’m sure they have their purpose but for streaming it’s an absolute disaster. Watching the players warm up is a nauseating experience, added to that half of the time the camera doesn’t track the one thing it was designed to follow and you’re left with a really bad viewing experience. Surely a person moving a camera is less expensive?
I really hope the club are making a decent amount of income from these streams. Of course, you’ll never replicate the typical income of a match day at Plainmoor, but considering the current success we are experiencing in the league this season, the club deserve all the support they can get during such difficult times for all people & businesses.
I wish to say thank you Torquay United for the excellent work you have done to provide a pleasurable viewing experience for all of us supporters and I hope we all go from strength to strength as we continue to fight for a return to the EFL. We are all right behind you!!
Of course, there are also 22 other clubs who also have set up streams for the current campaign. Some have been very good, some have been okay and there have been some which I’d rather have followed on TUFC Radio! Instead of going through every single stream I’ve watched, which would test me too mentally to remember, I’ve written about my personal best, worst & overpriced streaming escapades.
I would like to point out that the following thoughts below are mine and mine alone. I will focus only on league match streams as I think it is unfair for me to criticise clubs like Chesham who had no obligation to provide a live stream for our FA Trophy game and only at a short time span to arrange one. I think it’s clear to all those who watched it just how many issues they had but considering they play one level above county football, it was never going to be perfect to begin with and I appreciate the effort they put in to try and put on a decent stream, even if at the time I was very unhappy! Also for those non-Torquay supporters who might be reading, I am a Torquay supporter and am viewing all these experiences as one.
Best away streaming: Bromley (£9.99)
I was really impressed with Bromley’s effort. It looked professional, there was a decent pre-match show which focused a lot on our 3-7 defeat, but it also featured our great escape win. Credit to them as for our next home game after Bromley we began to implement aspects of the Bromley stream into our one.
The video qualify was decent, they had multiple camera angles of the action and although the commentary was more biased towards Bromley (obviously!), I found them to be very fair (and probably still the fairest commentary team I’ve listened to) towards us and probably one of the best commentary duos this season so far, although I do believe this was the first time we signed a new player in Neman!
Considering this was only their second attempt, a lot of clubs should take note from them. £10 very well spent.
Worst away streaming: Yeovil Town (£9.99)
Sour grapes? Nope. Yeovil were better than us on the day and frustrating as it was to lose it in the last five minutes, we didn’t deserve to win.
That said, my viewing experience was without a doubt the worst one I have watched this season. Costing the same price as Bromley, it’s amazing how differing of an experience they provided.
The view and picture quality of the camera was really poor. The camera seemed so much further back from the pitch than it actually was. It made it really difficult to identify which player was on the ball other than a man in green and a man in yellow. Then comes the ball tracking camera. On numerous occasions the camera would pan away from the action as it would identify a moving ball out of play. It may be good for training purposes but for streaming it’s not fit for purpose!
The commentary team lacked enthusiasm and encountered technical issues towards the first half which ended up making them sound like Daleks. I think they spoke more about the weather than they did about the game.
When you look at the effort clubs like us and Bromley put into their respective streams, you really feel short-changed when it came to Yeovil’s effort. For a pound less you get far more out of our stream compared to theirs. I understand Yeovil have now teamed up with a new streaming provider which should make things better for future streams, however I can only judge on what I saw and what I saw wasn’t good enough, both streaming wise for them and performance wise for us.
Most over-priced stream: Kings Lynn Town (£12)
The National League North champions win the award for the most over-priced stream so far. Charging £25/22 for their own supporters to attend with no concession prices, I shouldn’t be surprised that the Linnets are looking to cash in on a season where up to that point, no fans had been allowed into ‘The Walks’.
The quality of the stream wasn’t bad, but the use of replays was nothing short of shambolic. Instead of keeping the running commentary going, they instead cut and pasted the same snippet of what had just happened with the same commentary. So many times they would cut away from the action, show the replay of what just happened and then it would cut back to the ball being down the other end of the pitch with supporters clueless of what just happened whilst the camera cut away.
They used multiple camera angles which would have been good had they utilised them properly but they cut to them far too often and it took you away from the action. A bit like the ball tracking camera, it made you feel nauseous.
It wasn’t the worst stream in the league but when you compare theirs to ours, ours is much sleeker and far better value for money.
Please let me know fellow reader whether you agree or disagree with my choices, again this is my personal choices and I am interested to see the consensus of the Yellow Army.
Stay safe, keep it yellow, up the Gulls!!!! Thomas