Viewing figures for Sky Sports’ live Premier League matches have dropped by 19 per cent this season.
Despite already having aired headline clashes such as the Manchester derby, Arsenal vs Liverpool and Chelsea vs Liverpool this season, Sky Sports has seen viewers drop by nearly a fifth on last season.
The rise of illegal streaming of matches (most notably by Kodi users), the emergence of BT Sport and the rival attraction of the Olympics are likely contributors to the decline in audience numbers, and it will surely be of huge concern to Sky having paid £4.2 billion (the equivalent of over £11 million per match) for the right to broadcast 126 live games over the next 3 seasons.
A Sky spokesman, responding to The Daily Mail article that revealed the audience figures, said: “It is a premature comparison when several high-profile matches such as Liverpool v Manchester United have yet to air on Sky Sports. We have shown the top 10 most viewed PL games so far this season.”
But it is not just in the UK. Sports viewing figures in the US are also down.
“The warning signs are ominous. Nielsen data points to the fact that average network viewership of NFL (American football) has fallen at alarming rates. Nielsen data report that viewerships of prime-time games are down 14% year on year so far this season among the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. CBS Thursday night games are down 15%, NBC’s Sunday night games are down 12% and ESPN’s flagship ‘Monday Night Football’ games have lost 16%.”
Nor is American football feeling the blight alone. Olympics and open tennis audiences fell very short of expectations too.