Scottish football fans must make up a sizeable chunk of Periscope’s total audience. The Twitter-owned live broadcast tool lost its relevance years ago, rendered little more than a gimmick by the social media community, but for supporters of the sport in this country, it’s more than relevant. It’s a lifeline.

The routine is well practised by now - with so many big Scottish games kept off television, for one reason or another, someone films the match from the stands on their smartphone while thousands watch from home. There are no replays, no pundits, no commentary, besides the odd chant or uncensored expletive, but it is so often the only way for Scottish football fans to watch their team.

For example, a couple of fans at Ibrox live-streamed the William Hill Scottish Cup replay between Rangers and Kilmarnock last month amid a TV blackout - with more than 65,000 people tuning in to watch the clash. One supporter was situated in the Bill Struth Main Stand and broadcasted the match, which ended in a 5-0 victory to Rangers, on Periscope. The game wasn’t being screened by any broadcaster owing to UEFA rules that ban live coverage of any matches during Champions League ties.

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It gives an idea of looming revolution in sports broadcasting. For decades, football, both in Scotland and across Europe, has been dictated to by the big satellite TV companies. Indeed, the sport we see in front of us today has been moulded by the billions pumped in by the likes of Sky and BT.

Plates are shifting beneath the sport, though. Viewing figures for live sporting events have stagnated, and even fallen in some cases, as fans move away from traditional media and new media giants, like Amazon, who will broadcast live Premier League football from next season, disrupt the status quo.

It’s somewhat unfortunate, then, that the SPFL has only just tied itself to traditional media until 2025, handing exclusive broadcast rights to Sky Sports. This deal had been years in the making, with almost existential importance placed on boosting the coffers of Scotland’s clubs with TV money. But the timing of this deal exposes an extreme lack of foresight.

There is a broadcast revolution coming and Scottish football threatens to be left behind. This season saw live rights to broadcast Eredivisie, La Liga and Serie A in the United Kingdom handed to online-only channel Eleven Sports, with the ESPN+ streaming service in the United States boasting 2 million subscribers. Eleven Sports did relinquish their rights to Serie A and Eredivisie to focus on La Liga coverage at the turn of the year, but football, and sport in general, is moving from the TV screen to the smartphone or tablet screen.

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Of course, Scottish football had the chance to position itself well ahead of the curve. The old SPL faced a broadcasting crossroads back in 2002 when, as talks with Sky stalled, former chief executive Roger Mitchell brought the so-called ‘SPL TV’ proposal to the table. The plan would have seen the establishment of a dedicated SPL channel, with viewers subscribing directly to the league.

A dedicated TV channel is now out of the question, and behind the times, but the separation of the easing of Scottish football’s dependance on broadcast revenue would have better prepared them for the coming revolution. The SPFL should still look to give itself a self-sufficiency, though, with a platform of their own, something to eliminate the need for Periscope.

There are ways for the SPFL to do this for modest outlay, and to their credit, they may well have explored them. Pixellot is an unmanned camera system that uses a single camera with multiple lens to automatically track the ball during a football match and the SPFL has experimented with them at Scottish Championship grounds this season.

These systems are already being used in Germany, dramatically reducing the cost of broadcasting live games and they could be the key to Scottish football establishing a streaming service much like the MLS Live platform that gave American fans the chance to watch every game not on national TV for a number of years before it was enveloped by ESPN+.

The SPFL could, and should, have hedged its bets like the Premier League has by handing a package of live games to a new media broadcaster, whether that be a service like Amazon Prime or a social media platform like Twitter. This way, Scottish football could have tipped their toes into the water of change without diving all the way in. This would have avoided the sort of all or nothing proposal put forward by Mitchell 17 years ago.

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A lot has been said and written about Scottish football’s failure to maximise overseas broadcast revenue streams, with the SPFL cutting ties with MP & Silva, the agency that controlled the body’s foreign broadcast rights, last year. The truth is, though, that native fans, never mind those abroad, are being underserved by the current arrangement.

There is a theory in modern sports broadcasting that prioritises visibility above all else. It’s why the NBA has made its social media rights open source, allowing everyone and anyone to post clips and highlights freely. This has been a factor in the soaring profitability of the league, with an NBA franchise now estimated to worth, on average, 22% more than was the case just a year ago.

At a time when Scottish football should be looking to use new media, much like the NBA has, to draw more eyeballs, the SPFL’s new TV deal with Sky Sports actually means there will be fewer games broadcast per season from 2020. This may serve the hardcore, the ones who will be there no matter what, but what does it do for the Scottish Premiership’s, and, as a whole, the SPFL’s, brand value?

Scottish football was left behind by the last broadcast revolution, the one that saw the Premier League become the most lucrative sports league on the planet. Our national game still finds itself at a disadvantage from that, stuffing its pockets with whatever notes and coins fall from the back of the English football bandwagon, but the failure to recognise the next shift, which is already under way, could do even more damage.