Sky have just announced their biggest sports overhaul yet, ditching its numbered sports channels and replacing them with outlets focused on different sports.
Come next season, Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 will be retired and in their place there will be Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Cricket. There will be two channels dubbed Sky Sports Football, and a new channel – Sky Sports Arena – will host Sky’s additional content, including rugby and tennis
The Sky Sports Mix, a free-to-watch channel Sky uses for its smaller offerings, is also believed to be set to continue.
The shake-up sees Sky trying to offer a new, cheaper package for new pay-TV subscribers looking to add sport to their viewing diet. In breaking up sports via theme Sky hopes to entice viewers to rates as low as £18 per month – currently, its cheapest sports package costs £49.50 a month.
As reported in the Guardian, the cost of sports rights has spiralled in recent years with Sky paying £4.2bn in its latest Premier League TV deal – 83% more than the previous deal and almost £11m per game – while viewing figures have dropped significantly.
It is believed this new Sky rebrand is in part charged by a desire from the broadcaster to curb the shift to cheaper streaming options from viewers.
“There are a range of reasons why Sky would be looking at such a big structural change to its pay-TV service,” said Richard Broughton, a director at Ampere Analysis.
“In part it could be a response to the ongoing question of viewing numbers to traditional pay-TV sport. There is also a demographic shift where people, especially younger groups, are reluctant to spend so much. Get reluctant to spend groups, such as millennials, in on cheap packages and look to up-sell at a later date.”
Sky has already been targeting viewers who don’t have pay-TV with cheaper options such as the Now TV set-top box, which offered sports channels on a pay-as-you-go basis, with sports days passes costing £7, but a monthly pass is still around £34.
The new overhaul promises to make viewing much more affordable for those looking to make the leap.