Where to watch the 2020/21 Premier League season
Football, like most areas of life this year, was not immune to the chaos caused by the Covid-19 virus. With spectator sports cancelled during the lockdown, the English Premier League’s 2019/20 season was suspended for four months.
Resuming in June and finishing only on July 26th, the campaign’s later conclusion would inevitably push the following season back. So after just a seven-week break, the new 2020/21 Premier League fixture list begins on Saturday 12th September.
Champions Liverpool will defend the trophy, while newly-promoted Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham aim to establish themselves. Still, with fans not in attendance, it promises to be a uniquely compelling experience not to be missed.
Thankfully, the viewing choice across satellite TV and web broadcasters is set to be comprehensive. In this guide we built with our friends at Broadband Genie, we identify the key providers, the content each offers and also how to optimise online streaming.
Top Team: Sky Sports
With this deal, the broadcaster is able to offer viewers every weekend’s “first pick” match and 14 of the “second picks” throughout a season. This effectively ensures it shows the biggest “head to head” games at the widest variety of kick-off times.
Popular slots include Sky’s Super Sunday matches at 2pm and 4pm, Monday and Friday Night Football, plus Saturday evening (5:30pm) fixtures also. Soccer Saturday, presented by the popular Jeff Stelling, provides live score updates and pundit analysis alongside.
The 8 Sky Sports HD channels are an add-on to Sky’s basic TV package, priced at an extra £23 per month for an 18-month minimum term. This includes online streaming service Sky Go, which allows subscribers to watch on-demand from web-enabled devices.
Star Sub: NOW TV
NOW TV is fundamentally a service that allows limited time, streaming-only access to Sky’s Entertainment, Cinema and Sports channels. You don’t need a contract and the service streams to over 60 different devices including smartphones, PCs, and its own NOW TV Smart Stick for TVs.
Crucially, football fans can buy a Sky Sports Pass with access to 11 Sky Sports channels, on a daily or monthly basis. So a Day Pass offers 24 hours of Sky Sports for a one-off payment of £9.99, while a Month Pass (+ Boost HD 7-day trial) auto-renews at a price of £33.99.
Mid-tablers: BT Sport
BT Sport holds the rights to show 52 live Premier League matches each season until 2022, alongside a raft of European fixtures. Traditionally bundled with fibre broadband, BT’s TV Sport packages start from £15 a month on a 2-year contract.
This entry-level pack includes four BT Sport channels and BoxNation for boxing fans, plus a recordable set-top box. The Big Sport and VIP packages, priced £40 and £60 per month respectively, also add access to Sky Sports via NOW TV’s app.
The BT Sport Monthly Pass, priced £25, instead offers app-based access as a standalone, contract-free option that doesn’t require BT broadband.
Typically, BT Sport tends to show the earlier lunchtime games that kick off at 12:30pm on Saturdays. The 52 featured matches will also be joined by every UEFA Champions League fixture for the 2020/21 season.
Small Club: Amazon Prime
Although it seems absurd to call Amazon “small” on any scale, it is the minnow for now in terms of Premier League rights. Until 2022, Amazon Prime TV can show 20 matches throughout a season.
However, the football coverage requires no additional sporting package on top of the £7.99 per month (£79 per year) Prime membership. A 30-day free trial period is available, with subscribers able to cancel at any time and stream on any device.
Awarded “Package F” at the last PL rights auction, including games from one Bank Holiday and one midweek fixture programme. Lasts season these matches were from the December schedule and notably Boxing Day, although games were shown as additional Coronavirus coverage.
An entertainment review programme “Back of the Net” looks back at all weekend PL action each Tuesday.
Getting Optimum Playback
Across the board, all the featured providers make streaming football coverage central to the viewer experience. Modern fans want convenience, but they also demand HD quality picture and sound to feel as close to the action as possible.
Crucially this requires strong connectivity and bandwidth speed, whether on mobile, PC, SmartTV or indeed games consoles. This is why providers like Sky and BT principally, tether TV packages to their own fibre broadband.
If you aren’t already using fibre or need a mobile data allowance to watch remotely, then start here and upgrade. Streaming live football, or any video, is data intensive and no amount of speed (Mbps) is too much.
In addition, consider these final tips for optimising performance:
- Limit the traffic. Too many users streaming simultaneously on one connection will slow bandwidth, so watch together – even if you support rival teams!
- Move the router. Repositioning a wireless router to a more central place will improve signal coverage and reduce the chance of dropout or interference.
Go wired instead. Sky and BT boxes require wired web connections for good reason, so where possible use a network cable instead of WiFi for maximum speed.