The new normal
With minutes remaining on the clock, Spurs were moments away from securing 3 valuable points and climbing to second place. Then, in the dying embers of a pulsating fixture, having already scored twice after the 82nd minute, Manuel Lanzini broke Spurs hearts with an unbelievable strike into the top corner.
Football social media exploded. Fans from all corners of the Premier League and the continent rushed to react, posting tweets, Instagram posts and stories. The 21st-century football fan is digital. Gone are the days where the sole place to debate the game was down in the pub post-match.
The year 2020 has taken things even further. The coronavirus pandemic has ripped away the ability of fans to attend games. Confined to their living rooms, fans have been finding new ways to provide entertainment for their fellow peers.
The trend of ‘watchalongs’ has exponentially grown. A medium in which a fan or group of fans will live stream a feed showing them watching and reacting to the game.
In the official scene, Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday hosted by Jeff Stelling builds the basis for these ideas. The YouTube scene has enabled fans and content creators to provide their own versions whilst not confined to the rules and regulations of television.
Paul Merson’s reaction to Sergio Aguero’s last minute goal will always be gold 😂 pic.twitter.com/NaFfYEo3Id
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 10, 2019
The Kick Off, a show hosted by True Geordie is arguably one of, if not, the most successful of its type to not specialise for a single club. Covering the Premier League and European football, thousands of viewers tune in to watch the panel of fans talk about and discuss the ongoing game.
Times are changing
Just like on Soccer Saturday these ‘watchalong’ shows provide a wealth of entertainment. However, whilst Sky’s original incarnation is based around the informative genre, providing viewers with in-depth professional analysis and pundit’s opinions, it deviates when concerning the YouTube phenomenon.
From studios to bedrooms, what makes the majority of these shows entertaining is the raw attachment to the club the fan has. Whilst the likes of Paul Merson may show excitement or frustration at a match, witnessing the joy and despair of a fan has become football social media prime time.
The greatest 32 seconds you’ll ever see pic.twitter.com/v4LrwTQa28
— Jaack (@Jaack) October 18, 2020
Those responsible for putting on the shows have relinquished the personal struggle a fan goes through internally. Publicly broadcasting the embarrassment of celebrating a goal before it is ruled out by VAR. Confidently speaking about a seemingly unassailable lead to see the cruel game of football rip it away.
These videos are becoming more and more common. Soccer Saturday’s reshuffle of its presenters has even led to Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier and Charlie Nicholas moving to YouTube with Paddy Power.
No Soccer Saturday for Le Tiss, Charlie and Thommo today. Wonder what they are up to..?
Watch episode One of Pundits on our YouTube channel.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) September 12, 2020
Even the clubs themselves have created their own ‘Gogglebox’ style shows on their YouTube channels, with hundreds of thousands watching.
Times are continuing to change and as the future of football fandom remains uncertain, the popularity of fan ‘watchalongs’ appears to only grow stronger.
This article was edited by Josh Barker.
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