Football, in US and UK, faces dip in television eyeballs

Football, in US and UK, faces dip in television eyeballs

The sport of football, across the US and UK, could be facing viewer apathy, setting off alarm bells for television companies.

The viewership of football, the most popular sport in UK, is showing a declining trend. It is a similar story across the Pacific, where American football, which enjoys cult following, is seeing noticeable decline in television viewing.

According to an analysis of the viewership data till the first half of the Premier League (PL) season, the average viewership per game is down 11 per cent. The drop in viewership is 22 per cent since 2010-11, according to news agency Bloomberg.

During the first 10 weeks of the league there was a 14 per cent drop in viewership but the figures have since recovered marginally. The data does not include people watching the games on their smartphones.

PL, though, appears to be thriving. Attendance for the games is up marginally while the higher broadcast revenue is helping teams make more money.

The falling viewership may cause more pain for Sky Sports . The average viewership for the match is down 13 per cent since last year and 25 per cent from 2010.

For pay television companies, investing in exciting live sporting properties has been the way to drive subscription. The Murdoch family, which owns 40 per cent of  Sky Sports , is considering buying out the other 60 per cent for over $13 billion.

Across the Pacific, a similar situation is unfolding for the National Football League (NFL), which has cult following in the US. According to ESPN, NFL games saw television viewership drop by an average of eight per cent for the 2016 regular season, with 1.4 million fewer people watching a typical game against 2015.

Before the November 8 elections, for the first nine weeks viewership for the NFL was down 14 per cent compared to 2015. Translated in absolute numbers, 16.5 million people watched a typical game against 17.9 million last year. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had said in December 2016 that the data reflected that the United States presidential election was “certainly a factor.”

The fall in viewership is being seen across television networks. During daytime games on Fox, viewership was down six per cent while on CBS it has been down 7 per cent.