Sky’s departing viewers mean vexed outlook for big-spending Premier League

Is the great TV-fuelled football gravy train hitting the buffers?

Figures from Sky and broadcast measurement body BARB, collated by the FT, show that Premier League football viewing figures on Sky last year dropped 14 per cent despite the broadcaster – currently the subject of a bid from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox – coughing up £10m per match, about £1.4bn per season.

BT, which forced up the price of such matches by bidding £960m for a smaller number of games, saw its football numbers dropping by just two per cent; which may show it’s a better sports broadcaster than telco.

Sky says that some younger viewers are migrating away from set tops to mobiles and also buying cheaper one-off packages through products like Now TV. No doubt they are but they’re doing this because football, bundled in with other Sky channels, has just become too expensive for digital-savvy Millennials.

This summer will doubtless see Premier League clubs spend zillions on players most of us have never heard of. All on huge salaries courtesy of UK pay-TV viewers. But the game is out of control.

Sky’s departing viewers mean an uncertain outlook for even the richest Premier League team.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.