Last month it was revealed that the average viewing of Premier League matches on Sky Sports live TV games on their channels had fallen by 14% last season, the biggest decrease they have ever recorded.
Those figures look even worse when you consider that the latest TV deal which kicked in with the 2016/17 season, saw Sky Sports agree to pay two thirds more cash for the rights to cover the Premier League, working out at about £10m per game.
Sky Sports spent a total of £4.2bn to show 126 Premier League games per season up to and including 2018/19.
BT Sport paid £960m to show 42 games each of these three seasons and recorded a more modest fall of 2% fall in average viewing.
The Financial Times also revealed that broadcasters had admitted losing Newcastle United was a big blow to Premier League viewing figures:
‘Sky said the dip in the average numbers — the worst since Barb established its current audience measurement methods in 2010 — was partly explained by the new rights deal that gave it 10 additional matches featuring smaller, less popular teams.
The European pay-TV group added that the relegation of big clubs such as Newcastle and Aston Villa in the previous season hit viewing, as did live coverage of the Rio Olympic Games on the BBC in August. At one stage in the autumn, average viewing was down by as much as 19 per cent.
‘Broadcasters are under pressure as “cord-cutters” switch off their set-top TV boxes in favour of internet-based rivals such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.”
Analyst Mathew Horsman of Mediatique said at the time:
“This is complex but there is some suggestion younger viewers are watching all the other stuff available to them on multiple platforms and that the high price of subscribing to premium football is putting off subscribers.”
Newcastle United of course dominated the Championship TV viewing figures, providing nine of the ten biggest live TV audiences this past 46 game season – details of those figures/games HERE.
So the bottom line is that there is still arguably just as much interest in watching live Premier League/English football but that punters are finding cheaper ways to access it, via the legal ones outlined above – as well as those who access via the internet and from the overseas TV channels.
Now new research by the BBC has added some very illuminating backing to the news above from last month.
Their research involved a thousand people being questioned, who had all said they watched Premier League football regularly.
The headline results saw 36% of those questioned saying that they regularly (at least once a month) streamed live Premier League matches online through an unofficial provider, 22% saying they did it at least once a week. With 47% of fans admitting they have watched a match through an unofficial provider at least once in the past.
However, the massive worry for the likes of BT Sport and Sky Sports is that there is an entire generation who are now seeing this (watching illegally) as the norm.
The BBC survey showing 65% of those aged 18-34 watching matches illegally at least once a month. This compared to 33% of the 35-54 year olds and 13% of those aged 55+.
More than a third of Premier League football fans say they regularly watch matches live online via unofficial streams, according to a BBC survey.
The poll suggests younger adults are most likely to say they stream matches via unauthorised providers.
Nearly a quarter of all fans surveyed regularly watch matches online via special technology, such as Kodi boxes.
Kodi is free software, built by volunteers, that is designed to bring videos, music, games and photographs together in one easy-to-use application.
The developers behind Kodi say their software does not contain any content of its own and is designed to play legally owned media or content “freely available” on the internet.
However, the software can be modified with third-party add-ons that provide access to pirated copies of films and TV series, or provide free access to subscription television channels.
In March, a man from Hartlepool was given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay £250,000 for selling Kodi boxes to pubs and clubs.’