The pay-per-view figures from Liverpool v Sheffield United at the weekend make for interesting reading.
The Premier League caused controversy earlier this month when the new payment system was announced. Once football resumed post-lockdown and with no fans allowed in stadiums, games that weren’t already picked for Sky Sports or BT Sport were shown for free somewhere.
Yet when it became apparent supporters wouldn’t be returning to grounds in October as originally planned, the league changed its mind. Instead, those matches not already selected for TV were available to watch on wither Sky or BT Box Office – for a one-off fee of £14.95.
Many fans were outraged by the decision and decided to boycott. As The Liverpool Echo reports, instead of paying for Saturday’s game, many Reds supporters donated to a Merseyside foodbank charity instead. They raised over £100,000.
The Sheffield Star reported about a similar initiative among the Blades support for a hospice in the city. There are many other examples throughout the UK.
Pay-per-view figures for Liverpool v Sheffield United
According to the British Audience Research Board (BARB), the fixture at Anfield had around 110,000 people watching it on pay-per-view.
These figures were shared on Twitter by TV executive Joel Minsky. Note that BARB analyse households and not individual subscribers. That number was probably far lower.
See how these figures compare to Manchester United v Chelsea, which was shown as part of the Sky Sports package. Around 1.7m watched the match at Old Trafford.
It seems that the widespread boycott across the country is working. The Mirror reports both Sky and BT would happily scrap the £14.95 charge imposed by the Premier League.
It’s not making them any money and they’re concerned it’s harming their reputation.
It now remains to be seen whether the Premier League agrees with this and scraps the subscription. In the middle of a global pandemic and with many people experiencing financial problems as a result, it’s clearly something they badly misjudged.