Sports

‘Disgraceful, sad, great news!’ Fierce debate sparked as Wales rugby matches taken off free-to-air

The news that Wales’ autumn internationals are being completely taken off free-to-air TV has been met with criticism by many.

Amazon Prime Video has announced it will deliver its own Welsh language broadcast option for Wales’ Autumn Nations Series matches against New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji and Australia – closing the door for S4C to broadcast the fixtures live.

Peter Bradbury, Labour councillor for Caerau, called the move behind a paywall “disgraceful”, while many others followed suit on social media.

Another Twitter user posted: “So so sad. Watching test matches inspires future generations of rugby players & with many families unable to afford paid TV, we’ll potentially lose those kids. @WelshRugbyUnion please see how paid TV coverage damaged cricket participation.”

Other social media users expressed their concerns for low income or older supporters and how they’d be able to tune in to watch Wayne Pivac’s side this autumn.

“Always said Amazon picking up Wales rugby rights was fine as long as there was a balance with FTA TV,” posted one. “This will affect low income supporters and the older generation of rugby fans. And yes, of course it’s all about the money. It’s pro sport after all.”

Another added: “Gutted by this for a lot of reasons, always been able to watch Wales play for free. I have Prime and am fortunate enough to be going to two of the games, but there will be a lot of of fans who aren’t in that position and I’m gutted for them, game moving away from its roots.

“Don’t get me wrong I appreciate that there will still be Welsh language commentary. But it doesn’t hide the fact that there will be young fans who will not be in a position to watch it as they can’t afford non terrestrial TV who would have used Wales playing as escapism for a day.”

However, some fans recognised the financial upsides of the deal at a time when money is needed most. They say it is unreasonable to expect professional sport to be completely free these days.

One posted: “It’s professional sport. The game needs the money.”

Another, with a touch of sarcasm about where the money will actually be distributed, added: “It’s only 2 quid a week and the extra, much needed, money means the WRU can invest in another penthouse suite at their hotel. It’s a win-win.”

Another Facebook user posted: “You mean all these armchair fans will have to get a subscription or support their local club, it’s unheard of.”

Others also noted just how good it was to see Amazon Prime investing in Welsh language coverage – even if it is only to stop S4C from providing a free-to-air programme that would cut into their streaming figures.

“Silver lining is one of the biggest companies in the world has seen the value in the Welsh language,” posted one rugby fan on Facebook.

Another Twitter user added “Will be great to have Gareth Charles back commentating on the rugby with Amazon prime”, while another said the announcement was “great news”.

Fans who don’t already have Amazon Prime can actually watch the games for free by signing up for a free 30-day trial here.

Will you pay to watch Wales play this autumn? Have your say in the comments section here.

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