U.K. Broadcasters Appear To Have Overspent As Average Viewership Drops Sharply
U.K. broadcasters "look like they have scored spectacular own goals" when spending billions on "expensive football rights," according to Daniel Thomas of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Average viewers for U.K. games "unexpectedly dropped sharply this season" -- down some 14% on Sky, which shows the most matches. The decision to "postpone the auction of Italian football rights this week was a further sign that broadcasters' appetites are not limitless," with Mediaset saying that it would "rethink its bidding strategy in January." The market for football rights "appears to be peaking -- and may already have done so" in the U.K. Louis Capital "made the bear case starkly." The broker said that BT spending £2B ($2.55B) for football over three years implied a break-even of £34.30 ($43.78) per month per subscriber, "which will never be achieved," adding that the company’s customer growth in TV is "coming to a halt." A "dwindling list of bidders will worry sports bosses." The tech groups "muscling their way into broadcasting -- Netflix and Amazon in particular -- have so far shown little interest in football rights." Instead, "it is the linear TV incumbents that have propped up the sport, like old friends holding each other up at the bar." Football bosses are "trying to come up with new wheezes to keep viewers." There is "talk of Premier League night games on a Saturday." Broadcasters said that more people "are watching on their streaming services but this is unlikely to be enough to offset losses on linear TV for some time" (FT, 6/16).