Will streaming cause you to throw away your television? Just maybe...
Football. It's a passion which unites the world like no other, bringing people together in a truly unique way. There are very few things which can cause total strangers to hug each other, celebrate together or cry together, but football continues to do all of those things every single season.
But what happens if you can't be in the stadium to follow your team, either for geographical or financial reasons? If you're a supporter of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Boca Juniors, Manchester United or one of the other truly global clubs it's easy, you'll find the games on countless TV channels or shown live in bars, as well as news all over the internet.
But what happens if your club is not part of this elite? Just because your club isn't in the Champions League or Copa Libertadores doesn't make the passion any less real. People of a certain age will remember checking the scores on Teletext, anxiously waiting for the page to change and reach their club.
Based in Amsterdam, a small startup company called mycujoo recognised the need for a service that would help these supporters to follow their team, even after circumstances had caused them to be apart. There are also benefits for the club themselves, who are able to make money from selling sponsorship and increased interest in the team from new supporters.
The story began when Boavista, a Portuguese club supported by one of the founders, were relegated to the third tier. Having been a top flight club for many years, it was suddenly almost impossible to follow their matches without actually going to the stadium.
Since then, the two brothers who started the company have built an online streaming platform which allows small or medium sized clubs to broadcast matches to their supporters around the world, legally and for free. Some of the challenges faced have included finding stable internet connections in Afghanistan and small Caribbean islands, as well as having to go back to the weather in the Netherlands after working with the Maldives Football Association! While there have been many long hours spent in airport departure lounges, the grateful messages received from around the world thanking the company for helping people reconnect with their club or nation has made everything worth it for the team.
With both the Champions League and Europa League finals available for free this season, it seems safe to suggest that the future of football will be closely linked with streaming. And with virtual reality gaining in popularity, who knows where the future lies? While nothing will ever beat the feeling and emotion of being in the stadium for yourself, a time could come when you could be sat at home while feeling as though you're right there at the heart of the action.
Following football has certainly come a long way from the days where the only way to find out the result of matches you didn't attend was to wait for the newspaper the next day. The use of technology in football is certainly one of the hottest debates around when it comes to on-the-field action, but few people can dispute how it has been helping supporters. With clips of goals available on social media just seconds after they hit the back of the net, the world of football media is rapidly changing.
The next massive club that can contend with the very best may not come from a rich investor with millions of pounds to spend on transfers. It may well come from adapting fastest to the technological revolution and coming up with innovative ways to attract new supporters. In 2012, Spanish club Real Oviedo found international fame after selling shares online to secure the future of their club, while Welsh club Wrexham AFC launched their crowdfunded 'Build the Budget' campaign, with all funds going to help the non-league club sign new players to try and win promotion back to League Two.
What will the next big innovation be? It's hard to say. But if you're not seeing it in person, you'll almost certainly be tuning in online.
How to follow the big game in the future?