Premier League: Is football's Saturday 3pm TV blackout out of date?

The new TV deal includes the BBC continuing to show Premier League highlights on Match of the Day

With the Premier League's recent record-breaking £6.7 billion media agreement, more football matches will air on television starting in 2025.

There are still some aspects that haven't changed, even though networks like TNT and Sky will broadcast up to 270 live games per season.

Since the "3pm blackout" on Saturdays has been preserved, no games can be televised between 14:25 and 17:25 on that day—at least not until the new agreement expires in 2029.

But is it still necessary to have a rule that was put in place in 1960 to get supporters to attend lower league football?

For Heaton Stannington's non-league kitman, Adam Capper, the answer is unquestionably yes.

Although his club is located only three miles from the St. James' Park stadium of Premier League team Newcastle United, they play in the ninth tier of English football.

Fans would "basically be able to watch every game in the Premier League" if the blackout were to end, according to Adam, which would mean they wouldn't be able to watch their neighborhood non-league team.

"Clubs at every level of non-league rely on gates as their main source of income, bums on seats," he told BBC Newsbeat.

"We would lose a significant amount of people coming into games and probably a lot of football clubs would struggle to exist."

Adam, who actually supports Newcastle, reports that Heaton Stannington typically draws 400 spectators to its home games.

The 33-year-old adds, "But if Newcastle is at home, will we have about 200ish?"

"We might draw 700 supporters for a game that doesn't conflict in any way with Newcastle United.

"Almost everyone has a Football League or Premier League team that they root for in the first place and a non-league team that they occasionally follow.

"If all of a sudden they've got to choose between watching a stream at home or coming to a game at our level they're going to choose to watch the stream."

Latoyah Egerton, 35, an Exeter City supporter, concurs, stating that matchday attendance accounts for a "huge part" of the revenue for the third-tier League One team.

"If there's a big Premier League match on at 3pm, especially as we're heading into the winter months, I think a lot of people may opt to stay at home to watch the match on telly rather than actually attending in person," she explains.

"When there are other important matches going on at the same time, it does have an impact on attendance.

"We don't have big millionaire backers at the club, it's the fans themselves that own a huge part of it, it's really important to get people to attend."

However, not all Premier League supporters concur with Adam and Latoyah.

From Caerphilly in south Wales, Roopa Vyas is a Liverpool supporter who believes the blackout is "completely outdated and unnecessary".

"I understand the reasoning in bringing it in during the 60s, but now the Premier League is such a global event," adds the 26-year-old.

"It's quite unfair being a UK Liverpool fan and not being able to watch my team, and yet people abroad can watch every game in the Premier League while we can't."

Instead of attending live non-league games, Roopa believes that the blackout only pushes individuals to discover illegal ways to view the games.

"Yes there is radio commentary and things like that but it's not the same, you want to watch those goals," she continues.

"I know plenty of people who do use illegal streaming and I get why because you just want to watch your team."

The government announced last week that it will support every suggestion made by former England midfielder Karen Carney's women's football review, including the creation of a "new dedicated time slot" for matches.

The 3pm blackout is the "ready-made slot" for Chelsea supporter Emma Bowell, who plays women's super league.

"I think it's a good opportunity for us to reach a different audience, to put women's football front and centre," she states.

"There's probably a lot of people who aren't interested in watching their local team or a lower league team for whatever reason, but actually they might be interested in supporting the women's team of their club."

However, Emma, 32, is "aware" that the original purpose of the blackout was to safeguard men's games in lesser leagues.

"If we decide that 3pm is a good time to showcase the women's game fully then we should definitely do that," she asserts.

"But I think it needs to be done alongside how the revenue for that broadcasting is trickling down the women's football pyramid so that it supports grassroots teams as well."

Emma Bowell wants to see women's games shown on TV on Saturday afternoons

Adam Capper thinks the blackout is needed "as long as you want English football to have the strongest pyramid in the world"

Roopa Vyas says demand for tickets means she's sometimes unable to go and watch Liverpool play live