Premier League TV ratings register upsurge following 2016-17 season collapse

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Premier League television ratings last season have recorded a remarkable upsurge following a 2016-17 season collapse in viewership numbers.

The viewership of the English top tier club football and the world’s most popular league have seen a spike of five per cent last season following a 2016/17 campaign during which the rating plummeted to a record low in seven years.

Broadcasters Audience Research Board (Barb) data for the 2016/17 Premier League season showed a drop in Sky’s viewership by 14 per cent in comparison with the previous season, while BT Sport also experienced a small plunge.

American network NBC have claimed that it reached 39.3 million total viewers for the last season, an increase of 14% from last year and a new record number for its network. The average per match audience saw only a minor increase by 2,000 viewers from 447k to 449k.

The spike in television ratings, as suggested by some media reports, has been partly attributed to the improved on-field fortunes of both Liverpool and Manchester United, as well as Newcastle United’s return to the Premier League.

The 2017-18 season has been earmarked as a season of excellence in the Premier League. The campaign saw many firsts including the champions Manchester City becoming the first team to achieve 100-point mark breaking Chelsea’s 2004/05 record of 95 points.

This was not the only ‘Chelsea-record’ that has been shattered. Its 2015-16 season record of winning 30 of the 38 games has also been bettered by the City with two extra wins. The Chelsea also gave away with the record of 103 goals hoarded during 2009/10 title-winning streak after City’s scoring spree last season took them to 106 with their side’s Raheem Sterling standing fifth (with 18 goals) in the list of top goal scorers.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah broke the Premier League goal-scoring record for a single season with 32 goals in 38 games and helped the Reds back into the top four. And at the other end of the table, all three newly promoted sides (Brighton, Huddersfield, Newcastle) secured a second season in the top flight by not getting relegated.

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However, a latest study, seen by British daily The Times, suggests an increase on those struggles, though not an improvement on the season prior to the collapse. The figures solely relate to viewers consuming their Premier League action through traditional televised means.

“After Leicester had won the title in 2016, neither United nor Liverpool finished in the top four that season and, because expectations were low the following season, it meant viewers did not tune in in such large numbers, especially at the start of the campaign,” an named senior broadcast executive told The Times while explaining the recent years’ fluctuation.

“Last season the expectations of both teams were higher, they both performed much better in the Premier League and that was reflected in the viewership. The other factor is Newcastle — when they are involved in a live match, particularly away from St James’ Park, that is reflected in high viewership.”

The 2016/17 season, the opening month of which coincided with the Rio Olympics, saw a major dive in viewership during those early weeks, with more of the nations’ sports enthusiasts tuning in to watch the Games on BBC channels. This figures during the same period in the 2017/18 season saw an improvement with Sky bringing in audiences of 819,000 per match.

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