Indeed, nothing quite kicks up a stink in football circles like perceived opportunism from TV broadcasters. If one were to stand on the terraces on match day at grounds up and down the country, at some stage or other, they would hear the fans begin a rather unflattering chant about Sky TV.
Historically, there has always been very little trust between supporters and broadcasters, which is why, when the news broke that some Premier League pay-per-view viewing figures were less than 10,000 for certain games, there was genuine delight among various supporters’ trusts. You can understand why when you consider that millions were given the chance to watch, yet the actual figure could have crammed into the stadium of Wycombe Wanderers, a team incidentally whose English Championship odds on relegation to League One are at 2/9.
So, simply put, the viewing figures in some instances were battling to beat that of a League One ground’s capacity on match day despite everyone in the country ‘qualifying’ for a ticket.’
This was probably down to the various campaigns that were driven by supporters of clubs to instead donate the £14.95 to various food banks around their respective cities. Leeds United fans, for instance, managed to raise over £40,000 for food banks across the city by boycotting their PPV match against Aston Villa. Incidentally, Leeds played champagne football from minute one and ran Villa off the park, before eventually winning 3-0.
That would have been a bitter pill to swallow for Whites fans but now that the Premier League have decided to scrap their PPV system until the new year, fans will no longer have to miss out on memorable evenings like the one Marcelo Bielsa’s team had.
Naturally, after the news broke of the Premier League’s U-turn, fans thought they had won by forcing the Premier League’s hand but, on closer inspection, the decision to halt PPV over the Christmas period looks to be one of goodwill.
Yes, there were some disastrous viewing numbers at first but, on average, the Premier League were getting over 39,000 purchases per game. Their business model relied on them getting higher than the average stadium attendance over the course of the 2018/2019 season, which was 38,168.
So it does appear that, despite the best efforts of fans to urge others to boycott PPV, the league was still doing better than they had initially hoped for in terms of income generated. Another important point and perhaps a misconception about the PPV scheme was that the money went directly to clubs and not TV broadcasters.
This, of course, doesn’t condone the Premier League’s initial decision to begin charging fans to watch their team play. It was indeed a distasteful act that did nothing to quell the suspicion that football fans have of the people that run the game. But the fact of the matter is that they were making more money than they had expected to before scrapping the idea.
Originally published on fcbusiness.