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Premier League viewing figures fall

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Premier League football has suffered the biggest drop in viewing on Sky's TV platorm for at least seven years.  Average viewing on Sky's live TV platform fell 14 per cent and total viewing hours 6 per cent over the season.

Sky is paying £10m a game, two thirds more than previously, to screen matches in a three year deal.  It is spending £4.2bn for 126 games a year.  BT is paying £960m for its right to show 42 games a season.  It recorded a more modest fall in average viewing of 2 per cent, but that is from a lower base.

Sky said the dip in average numbers was partially explained by the fact that its deal gave it 10 extra matches featuring less popular teams.   However, some analysts consider that the high price of premium football is putting off subscribers at a time when real incomes are stagnant or falling.   Broadcasters are also under pressure from so-called 'cord cutters' who switch off set top boxes in favour of internet rivals such as Netflix.

Sky pointed to a 31 per cent rise in viewing via streaming service Sky Go, which lets subscribers watch on a smartphone or tablet, and Now TV where fans can buy a day pass for £6.99.

It is also hoped that the return of Newcastle United to the Premiersship next season will boost viewing figures.   Audience figures for the Championship last season featured Newcastle in eight of the ten most watched.

Before rushing to the conclusion that the Premiership bubble has finally burst, we should also remember that overseas rights account for a growing proportion of revenues.