According to the UK cable operator, which has compiled a report on the impact of rising prices of football rights, “the consumer is paying more [and] is not able to watch all the live games on TV”. Virgin Media says that “in its auction of live TV rights, the kind of competition managed by the Premier League isn’t working”.
According to the operator, the cost per viewer for Sky has increased from £400 (€530) in 2009-10 to £738 in 2014-15. If Sky attracts an audience average of 1.5 million per game in 2016-17, higher than its record 2011-12 performance, its cost per viewer will still increase to £928, according to Virgin Media’s calculations.
Virgin Media calculates that BT, Sky’s main competitor for football rights, had a cost per viewer of £412 last season.
The cable operator says that the £1.78 billion that the Premier League will take from BT and Sky each season under the current deals are the same amount as the total that the BBC spends on all TV programming. However the football rights deals generate only 504 hours of programming.
According to Virgin Media, UK fans spend at least twice as much as other European fans to watch about half the number of games.
The operator called for more matches to be made available, arguing that there is little evidence this would have an adverse impact on attendance at matches.
The operator cited its own research as showing that 77% of football fans would like more live Premier League game son TV, with only 6% saying the are able to watch every match they want to on TV at home.
“From next season, there will be only 168 games shown live in the UK out of a total of 380, yet fans will pay the highest prices in Europe to watch the games on TV,” said Virgin Media.
The company also argued that there is little evidence that the vast sums of money now received by Premier League clubs is having a positive impact on English teams’ performance in international leagues.