Flip TV's debut broadcast of NPL Victoria could be a turning point in coverage of second-tier football in Australia.
The online subscription broadcaster showed Kingston City's 1-1 draw with Bentleigh Greens live on Monday night as part of its new agreement with Football Federation Victoria (FFV).
With discussions about the viability of a national second division ongoing, Flip TV's decision to start a new NPL channel is a strong statement about how the latest technology could play a role in promoting second-tier football.
Flip TV will air at least one NPL Victoria match per week plus all of Rockdale City Suns' home matches in NPL NSW for the rest of 2017, while discussions are ongoing about creating a weekly magazine show.
Paul Reid, Rockdale City Suns
FFV Media and Communications Manager Teo Pellizzeri, who doubles as lead commentator on Flip TV's NPL Victoria broadcasts, was thrilled with the debut game.
"The initial reaction has been very positive," he told Goal.
"The production values and editorial quality of the broadcast has been widely praised and the game itself between Kingston City and Bentleigh Greens certainly delivered for action and goals.
"This Friday we look forward to broadcasting Melbourne Knights versus Heidelberg United and giving those two clubs national exposure and a high-quality broadcast production."
With three cameras, slow-mo replays, graphics and a pre-match pre-record with both coaches run by a total crew of eight, FFV was confident Flip TV's broadcast would be "the best yet" at NPL level.
Andrew McLeish of Sportscast Australia, who produced Monday's broadcast, believes the growth of streaming via Internet protocol television (IPTV) providers like Flip TV will only benefit sports or leagues that traditional broadcasters aren't interested in.
"The ability now to create platforms away from your standard free-to-air or even your cable, paid subscription TV has certainly opened up in the last 24 months but definitely in the last 12 months," McLeish told Goal.
"Consumers' behaviour with media now is a lot more mobile and not the traditional form.
"So I'm not surprised that it's taken this long because the door's just opened but I think from here on we'll find a lot of content being produced in this fashion where it's a scale down from TV but ideal for those platforms where people are looking to consume niche content."
While FFV's deal with Flip TV is only for 2017, Pellizzeri believes there is "great capacity to grow in 2018".
Leigh Minopoulos, South Melbourne
"There is no doubt the Westfield FFA Cup has helped to bring football from the second tier and below back into the national discussion, and it is already a positive legacy of the FFA Cup that interest in PlayStation 4 NPL competitions is growing," he said.
Following Friday night's Knights versus Heidelberg fixture, Flip TV's schedule includes a clash between NPL2 Victoria's two conference leaders Dandenong City and Northcote City on April 21 and Bulleen Lions against Heidelberg in NPL Victoria Women on May 1.