Match-day fans unlikely to benefit from the new TV mega deal
Richard Scudamore (Chief Executive of the The Premier League) announced yesterday afternoon that Premier League clubs will share a staggering £5.136 billion for UK television rights from 2016 to 2019.
The new Overseas television rights are yet to bid on and will bring each club a further cash boost for the coming seasons.
Sky Sports and BT Sport will share the new UK television rights packages between them, but are paying a premium for doing so compared to the current deal.
Sky is paying £4.176bn to keep hold of five of the packages, which will allow them to show the maximum possible number of matches – 126 – in the new three-year cycle, almost double the £2.28bn it paid for the current deal.
With BT Sport securing the remaining two packages – 42 games – at a cost of £960m, a more modest increase on its current £738m commitment.
Both Sky Sports and BT Sport moved quickly to reassure subscribers about their subscription rates remaining competitive when the new deal starts.
The Premier League clubs were of course less forthcoming about passing on the windfall to match-day fans.
The new deal will see a maximum of ten matches played on a Friday night.
Another logistical and travel nightmare to add to the away fans’ list of grievances.
Scudamore admitted keeping stadia full was the Premier League’s “number one strategic priority”.
The Premier League ‘product’ looks less attractive to advertisers if there are rows of empty seats.
Scudamore didn’t come up with any proposals on how to keep the stadia full. That’s the responsibility of the clubs, he said.
I also got home from Arsenal last night in time to hear Rachel Anderson (first female ‘super agent’) say on Radio 5 Live that away fans shouldn’t expect to have their ticket prices lowered.
She used as an example people going to the Theatre, saying they wouldn’t expect to get reduced ticket prices.
A poor example to use, Rachel. As of course there are reduced theatre tickets available. Plus the performance isn’t liable to change for TV purposes and even the most ardent theatre-goer doesn’t go to 19 plus shows in a year.
And of course any of the financial windfall the clubs pass onto fans, takes it away from Rachel and her clients!!!
Most clubs aren’t listening to their fans, or the supporter representative groups, about ticket prices.
There has been an estimated 10% drop in away fan attendances at Premier League matches.
A combination of high ticket prices, travel costs and the inconvenient kick-off tines all being factors.
Plus you can stay at home and watch matches on Sky Sports and BT Sport.
The Football Supporters’ Federation have been running a ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ campaign to peg away day tickets at £20.
But so far the majority of Premier League clubs have resisted lowering prices.
Southampton, Stoke City, Hull City and Newcastle United have been collaborating to offer lower ticket prices to each others’ fans.
Unfortunately, there have been a number of examples recently on social media of clubs selling restricted view seats for exorbitant prices.
Issues around ensuring the stadia remains full aren’t just about away fans.
Home supporters with season tickets are also now being much more selective on which matches they attend.
At Arsenal season ticket holders are taking advantage of the ticket transfer scheme for some matches to offset the cost of their season ticket.
Whilst many just decide not to attend certain matches or are unable to because of the TV scheduling.
It means that most Arsenal matches have at least 5000 less fans in the ground than the official attendance figure given.
Last night, for example, the official attendance was given as 60,032. In reality the crowd was around 53,000-55,000.
That must lead to a significant reduction in match-day revenue, which should be a concern to the club.
It will be interesting to see whether Arsenal with their increased income from the new TV deal will continue put a freeze on season ticket prices beyond the 2015/16 season, or even to reduce prices (ho-hum).
I won’t be holding my breath though that match-day fans will see any real benefits from the new TV deal.
It hasn’t happened in the past, so why now!