Sky Sports has seen audiences for live Premier League matches collapse by close to a fifth following a precipitous 19 per cent decline in the number of viewers tuning in for flagship broadcasts year-on-year.
The shock ratings dip comes in the first season of a mammoth £5bn rights deal with both Sky and BT Sport divvying up games between them over the next three years.
A Sky spokesperson remarked: “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.”
Seeking explanations for the mass turn off Sky has pinned the blame on a hot summer, distraction of the Olympics and the growing prevalence of illegal streaming but this hasn’t stopped alarm bells from ringing across the Premier League and rights holders.