Amazon deserve ‘huge credit’ for offering Welsh language commentary says Nigel Owens
Referee turned rugby pundit Nigel Owens has said that Amazon deserves “huge credit” for offering a Welsh language commentary on Wales’ autumn internationals.
He also declared himself “delighted” to be joining the service alongside Shane Williams, Nicky Robinson, Gwyn Jones and Sioned Harries.
The matches were previously broadcast by S4C but Amazon has decided to offer its own Welsh language commentary in order to ensure that audiences in Wales pay to tune into their own service.
But writing for the Western Mail, Nigel Owens defended the move, saying it only cost £2 per game to watch.
“While everybody will have a view on the pros and cons of Welsh games going completely off terrestrial TV for the first time, which is probably a different argument for another day, it is to Amazon’s huge credit that they have opted to offer a Welsh language option as well,” he said.
“S4C, who have always done a fabulous job in promoting Welsh rugby and football down the years, will then have free-to-air highlights packages after every match, which I also feel is very important.
“Not everyone, I guess, will have access to Amazon Prime, some will feel they can’t afford it, although at around £2 a game it’s less than you’d pay for a pint of beer.
“Amazon first got involved in the November internationals with the Autumn Nations Cup last year and they were clearly delighted with the numbers watching Test rugby.
“As such, they have come back in and secured the broadcast rights once more, but crucially this time they are offering the Welsh language option as well.
“They didn’t have to do that, of course, but I’m delighted that they have. A lot of people do enjoy watching and listening to the commentary in their first language of Welsh so it is very important that platform is there for them.”
‘Risk to the language’
His comments come after S4C’s Chief Executive said that the loss of the rights to Amazon was a “retrograde step”.
“Does S4C welcome this? No we bloody don’t, to be honest,” he told the Senedd’s culture committee on Wednesday.
“Certainly, we don’t, and for several reasons. Sport is important for S4C because sport brings a great deal of viewers into the channel. It’s an opportunity for us to cross-advertise the content of S4C for an audience that doesn’t often come into contact with that content.
“What Amazon has done is they’ve come in – and who blames them, they’re a private company – they’ve decided they are going to take on this. I think it’s a retrograde step for us in Wales.”
He went on to argue that Wales’ rugby matches should be considered one of those which legislation ensures is kept on a free-to-view channel.
“In future, Amazon might decide ‘well, we’re going to provide a programme in Welsh’,” he said. “What they’re trying to do, then, is to freeze us out of the traditional system that we have.
“That’s just a small example of what is likely to happen in the coming years, and where S4C would decide ‘well, we’ll have the rugby programme but we’ll have programmes around that and draw the audience in’, I don’t know whether Amazon is going to do that same thing.
“What I’m concerned about is there’s the Welsh offer, even though it’ll be a high-quality offer for the programme, it’ll just sit there and it will ensure they don’t share the audience. That’s what Amazon is really good at doing.
“In future, I think there is a risk to the language and a risk to channels such as S4C, but also for BBC and ITV, that are competing for these rights, that people come to where public service broadcasters traditionally are very strong and then will freeze us out of that space.
“Certainly, S4C isn’t welcoming what is happening. We’ve welcomed the fact that we’ve had some highlights of programmes. Certainly, we would much prefer to have had that live broadcast.”
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