Increased prices causing frustration amongst Calgary soccer fans

Soccer hotspot. Nicola Trolez, marketing and promotions manager at The Ship and Anchor stands at the bar of the pub in Calgary, Alta. on Sat., Jan. 21, 2023. The 17 Avenue pub has been a popular spot for Calgary soccer fans to catch a game for over 30 years. (Photo by Phil Wachowich/The Press)

Some Calgary soccer fans are growing frustrated by the rising costs to watch games.

Every league at this point is starting to get poached away from a different streaming service,” said Calgarian soccer fan Aleks Marjanovic.

“It just ends up being way too much money to watch.”

Each different soccer league across the globe has offloaded the rights to exclusively broadcast their league’s matches to Canadian fans on a variety of different host-websites and streaming platforms. The nine most popular leagues amongst Canadian fans are spread out across seven different hosting platforms, with an average monthly fee of $22.50 to subscribe to each site.

“I’m a big sports fan and I feel like these streaming services can take advantage of me,” said Marjanovic. “These streaming services are just dividing way too many of these leagues at this point.”

While Canada’s World Cup run arguably has Canadian fans more interested in the sport than ever before, some fans feel it has never been harder to support their club team.

Choosing to subscribe to all seven sites would result in over $135 a month in fees. This price is a non-starter for most fans, and many are forced to choose between services or look for alternative methods to watch games.

The Ship and Anchor has been a Calgary soccer-watching hotspot for over 30 years. Marketing and promotions manager Nicola Trolez says that while watching matches in Calgary has gotten more expensive over the years, the demand to watch the sport is only growing amongst younger fans.

“For a long time, you could get everything in one place, and then it all got switched up,” said Trolez. “As a business, we have to pay based on our capacity. Our fees are more, and having to carry all of these different things, our television bill is expensive. However, we know that by offering such a complete package, you hope to maintain the position of being the best place to watch all the matches.”

The biggest rights holder change this past year was American pay-television company FuboTV acquiring the rights to broadcast the English Premier League in Canada. Those rights were previously held by DAZN. Despite losing the EPL, DAZN retained the rights to the most popular competition, the UEFA Champions League, and raised customers’ monthly subscription fee.

A common issue encountered by subscribers on DAZN are frequent frustrations stemming from errors when streaming games. Plenty of matches are plagued by drops in video quality and crashes from the app altogether.

“I’ve had unbelievable problems streaming from DAZN,” said Marjanovic. “I think if you’re going to pay a hefty price for something like that, I do expect higher quality service for sure.”

The Press reached out to DAZN for comment, but they did not respond.

I’m a big sports fan and I feel like these streaming services can take advantage of me. – Aleks Marjanovic

Some fans of the sport without disposable income have turned to using illegal streams to watch competitions. This has long been a popular method amongst cord-cutting fans, but the ease of mind in doing so is being erased. Earlier this year, roughly 1,000 homes in the U.K. were visited by police in a crackdown on viewers using illegal streams for EPL games. These police visits were in conjunction with the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

Even with the handful of difficulties Calgarian fans encounter when streaming competitions, the popularity of the sport is only rising.

“I think we’re seeing that growth of the sport not only just in Calgary, but nationwide,” said Trolez. “It’s really exciting because as we grow the sport in each city across the country, we grow the strength of our national team, and being able to compete on the world stage. That’s super exciting.”

About Phil Wachowich 6 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Phil Wachowich is working as a writer for The Press in 2022-23.