This is a world dominated by streams, wifi, and pay per view sports channels but in Ireland there remains a more traditional constant, the pub is at the heart of sporting viewership. Every pub in Ireland has a perpetual loop of sport in the background. There is no other example of this commitment to free view sport showing anywhere in the world.
The pub is undoubtedly at the very heart of Irish society. Despite the move toward a healthier lifestyle, the Irish pub is still a bustling hub of activity during weekends. Hurling, Gaelic Football, Rugby and Soccer all enjoy and bask in the glory of this casual and easy going viewership. Until very recently La liga shared this. Every weekend in pubs around Ireland TV’s were tuned to La liga and the casual Irish fan was drip fed a little bit of exposure to Spain. However when La Liga sold its rights to the internet streaming company Eleven Sports, it called time on it’s relationationship with Irish pubs.
The opening weekend of La liga in my own local I did hear echos of ”Stick on Barca there” when match time approached. Sadly they were met with disappointment as they realised what had come to pass. Similar groaning is guaranteed again this weekend as ”El Clasico” takes centre stage and yet again, the only way to watch it is to dial up the www’s.
The Irish people are a sociable people. We crave company, chat and above all craic! We would not be known for sitting at home to log on and watch a match in the kitchen! To us sport in the pub is our tapas. There’s sports we’ll watch over a casual pint that we would never put on in the house and certainly not pay a subscription for… La liga was in a prime position, with matches on late at night on weekends it was to us a slice of manchego or a portion of Spanish tortilla with our beer. Now our tapas is gone, unaccessible to us and the opportunity La liga had to grow in the minds and hearts of Irish people has been lost too.
The only solution I see is if Eleven Sports create some kind of a tv viewing platform that will allow our local pubs in the Ireland to plate up our little slice of Spain in the evening time again.