Ahead of the start of the 2017/18 English Premier League season (12 August), main broadcaster Sky will move to scrap its individual sports channels, with a view of streamlining its content and viewer paid subscription packages.
Seeking to boost its subscriptions, the broadcaster will retire its Sky Sports Channels (1,2.3, 4 & 5) creating new ‘sports-themed’ package options for customers. Sky’s new sports-themed packages are reported to include individual channels for football (2 dedicated channels), formula 1, cricket and golf.
In order to fulfil its broadcast obligations for other sports partners, Sky will launch a new channel ‘Sky Sports Arena’, which will host content for tennis, rugby, darts, etc…
TV insiders report that the new content strategy forms part of Sky governance’s ‘major shake-up’ as the broadcaster looks to combat falling sports subscriptions. Furthermore, the broadcaster has been forced to revamp its sports strategy having paid £4.2 billion to secure its latest English Premier League TV broadcast rights for 2016 – 2019.
Sky Sports will relaunch its services with a reported £18-per-month package for each individual dedicated sports channel. The broadcaster will also form a ‘bundle – all content’ subscription package reported to being priced at £49 per month.
Having been coerced into a bidding war for the English Premier League TV rights against competitor BT Sports, Sky management now faces a reported £10 million cost per EPL televised match. As well as offering dedicated sports channels, Sky will broaden its access to individual sports matches/events through its Sky Now service, charging non-subscribers a viewing fee for day passes or viewing ‘one-off’ content.
UK business news sources report that Sky governance is concerned about US tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon seeking to move-in on sports content, and disrupting traditional sports TV broadcasts.
Last April, leading digital retailer Amazon won the rights to host Thursday Night NFL matches for season 2017-18, through its US Amazon Prime service. Locked in a consumer/user battle against Google and Facebook, Amazon leadership has detailed that live sports content could be a key asset in further growing its audiences and new consumers.