BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Although it may be short-sighted to simply blame the declining fan attendance on the improved accessibility to Malaysian league match broadcasts, it cannot be denied that it is one of the contributing factors.
In 2018, several big names in the Malaysia Super League failed to draw in good crowds at home consistently, while most alarmingly, the Bukit Jalil National Stadium was only half-full when the FA Cup final between Selangor and Pahang in July was played there. Perhaps for this reason, match attendance data for the 2018 season was never released publicly by competitions organiser Malaysian Football League (MFL), except at match venues.
Fortunately, the interest in domestic football is still there, according to the Chief Marketing Officer of MFL's official broadcast partner Iflix, Jason Monteiro, when speaking in the 2019 season launch on Thursday.
The streaming service had begun broadcasting all Super League and Malaysia Cup matches in 2018, as well as select FA Cup encounters.
"When we broadcasted last season's Sumbangsih Cup (league-opening match between previous season's league winners and Malaysia Cup champions), we broke every single global Iflix record. Football content broke every single viewing record, activation record, concurrent viewing record of Iflix globally," said Jason.
MFL board member, Datuk Wira Yusoff Mahadi, when met by the press after the launch, told Goal that the availability of live matches on television and online will not affect the coming season's fan attendance figures.
"Actually, the healthy viewership count on Iflix is a good sign that we have been able to reach more football fans in the country. For me, the hardcore supporters will keep coming to the stadium, as they appreciate the match atmosphere more. So I don't see any adverse impact on match attendance.
"But what's important is for the clubs to perform well (on the pitch); as long as they are doing well, there is going to be a healthy crowd turnout at the stadium," he remarked Yusoff, who is also a Malaysian FA deputy president.
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@faselangormy players took shade at halftime, in their Friday friendly against @puchongfuerzafc. The Red Giants would go on to win 6-0. Pemain-pemain Selangor berteduh semasa separuh masa perlawanan persahabatan menentang Puchong Fuerza. Perlawanan hari Jumaat itu dimenangi Gergasi Merah dengan jaringan 6-0.