Field hockey is played in over 100 countries across five continents and is arguably one of the world’s top five most popular sports, with an estimated two billion fans worldwide. Despite this, it is only featured on UK mainstream television every two years, in either the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games.
Recent research conducted by ExpressVPN showed that the most popular sports in the UK are still football, rugby, and golf. However, the accessibility of online streaming services is slowly changing the picture.
While hockey may not be the most popular sport in the United Kingdom, with sports like football and rugby taking precedence, there has been plenty to shout about when it comes to GB hockey over the last ten years.
Who could forget that famous night in Rio six years ago, when the Great British women claimed their first Olympic title in a dramatic penalty shoot-out against the Netherlands? The eyes of the nation were gripped by the match; nine million people tuned in, and the BBC even moved back the 10 O’clock news. It was also the number one trend on Twitter. This shows that there is an appetite for field hockey in the UK.
How does this translate to club hockey in the UK?
The excitement around the national hockey teams does not seem to have passed onto local hockey clubs suffering from low crowd numbers. This highly damages their budgets, especially in a post-pandemic world with a cost-of-living crisis.
Clubs are responding to the lack of TV coverage they are receiving by setting up their streaming programs allowing people to watch the fixtures from far and wide. An example is Uddingston Hockey Club, a Scottish club based in South Lanarkshire. Both their men’s and women’s teams play in the Premier League in Scotland and have aspirations to push for European competition.
Uddingston has launched Uddy TV, a streaming platform that broadcasts all of the club’s home games from all levels of hockey. The platform is a not-for-profit TV station created through the clubs’ partnership with the University of West Scotland. To make the TV station as professional as possible, the university worked alongside club partners to invest in buildings, infrastructure, and equipment to provide a 12-camera live-streaming platform.
They are not the only UK hockey club that provides a personalized streaming service to broadcast their club to a broader audience. English Premier League club Beeston offers a very similar service with Bee TV for both men’s and ladies’ fixtures.
It is clear that much work needs to be done to sustain club hockey across the United Kingdom, with attendance figures plummeting. However, with the power of modern technology, clubs like Uddingston and Beeston have created more revenue streams, exposing a broader audience to top-class field hockey across the British Isles, and encouraging others to get involved.