In GBGC’s gambling newsletter for June, Warwick Bartlett wrote about the cost of football coverage on pay-TV in the UK and the falling number of viewers. At the end of June 2017 Sky announced an overhaul of the way it will present and sell its sports channels.
The broadcaster has outlined a strategy for its sports coverage that will replace the numbered channels (e.g. Sky Sports 1) with themed channels based around football, golf and cricket, along the lines of the current Sky Sports F1. Sky Sports Arena will show other sports like tennis and darts. Sky Sports Mix, which is free to view for all Sky subscribers, will also continue.
Earlier in the year Sky increased its stake in specialist horseracing channel At The Races (ATR) to 50.2% after purchasing some of Arena Racing’s holding. The Racing Post reported at the time of the deal that At The Races would be rebranded as Sky Sports Racing. This move would fit with the wider changes to Sky Sports.
The cheapest Sky Sports package currently costs around GB£ 50 per month for new customers. Under the new set up, the cheapest package will cost GB£ 18 per month.
As GBGC discussed in the previous article, the high costs being paid for sports content, especially the English Premier League (EPL), were being passed on the customer. Sky, for example, paid GB£ 4.2 billion to secure EPL broadcast rights between 2016 and 2019. The falling number of viewers suggested that some were not happy to pay. The move by Sky is being seen as an attempt to compete for the cost-conscious viewers who are currently using free-to-air services or short-term pay TV contracts.