The plausibility of more games being streamed online was boosted with the news that the FA's recent FA Cup coverage set a new record.
The FA Cup First Round tie between Oldham Athletic and Leeds United, streamed exclusively live on TheFA.com, achieved over 176,000 plays on Saturday evening. This is believed to be a UK record for a free-to-view competitive football match on the internet.
The match was streamed as part of The FA’s newly launched web portal FATV, and follows the successful streaming of the England Under-21s game against Macedonia in the qualifying stages of the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship at Coventry City’s Ricoh Arena.
These games are followed up with the eagerly anticipated match at Wembley Stadium on Saturday when the Under-21s play in another crucial Qualifier against Portugal. Over 33,000 tickets have been sold for this game as England seek to make ground on group leaders, Greece, currently six points ahead of second-place England, having played two games more. The whole match will be available exclusively live and free to internet users in the UK and Ireland on FATV (www.TheFA.com/FATV).
The FA has also today announced the next FA Cup ties to be broadcast exclusively live on the internet as part of its streaming service on TheFA.com.
Commenting on the streaming numbers, Ian Watmore, The FA's Chief Executive, said: “We have been absolutely thrilled with the viewer reaction and user numbers for both the games we have streamed live to date.
"This has proved that there is a growing online audience eager to see live football for free on the internet that is in addition to and complementary to the live games featured with our broadcast partner, ITV."
The FA are partnering with digital sports specialist, Perform Group, to deliver FATV. Oliver Slipper, Perform’s joint-CEO, commented: “The decision by The FA to stream these matches live on the internet has clearly been vindicated, with over 175,000 streams delivered. Oldham Athletic v Leeds United ranks as one of the top five live web sports events in UK history.”
All matches streamed for free on FATV, at TheFA.com/FATV, are only available to internet users in the UK and Ireland.