Sky Sports have defended news that viewing figures of their live Premier League matches have dropped by a 19% this season.
Despite showing the Manchester derby and Arsenal v Liverpool and Chelsea v Liverpool games the subscription channel have reported a significant drop in viewers with the Daily Mail bizarrely claiming “a hot summer” to be a contributing factor.
The illegal streaming of matches and the rival attraction of the Olympics was a more likely explanation, but it will surely have alarm bells ringing at Sky headquarters, despite their apparent lack of concern.
A Sky spokesman told the Daily Mail: “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.”
Sky and BT Sport paid over £5billion between them for their new three-year contracts to screen live Premier League matches.
Sky paid £4.2bn for five of the seven TV packages while rival BT paid £960m for the other two in the record TV rights auction.
Sky paid 83% more than it did in the last round three years ago, while BT paid 18% more and has increased the number of live matches it will show from 38 to 42 a year.
It means Sky pay the equivalent of £11.07million per match, for the right to broadcast 126 live matches.
Managing director Barney Francis said in July: “It’s our biggest season ever. Our opening set of fixtures offers our viewers some mouth-watering fixtures and we’ll show every club at least once by the end of September.”
Sky will show Liverpool v Manchester United on Monday in what they hope will be their biggest game of the season so far.