Virgin Media: Football Fans Demand More Live Football on TV

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Three quarters of English football fans (77%) would like more live
Premier League games available on TV, new research reveals.

The research, carried out among more than 1,000 football fans and
commissioned by Virgin Media, reveals that two-thirds believe the rising
cost of Premier League live TV rights means they will pay too much to
watch live football. Only 6% of fans say they were able to watch every
match they wanted to on TV at home.

Investigation

The research is published as Ofcom approaches the first anniversary of
its investigation into the sale of Premier League rights. The regulator
launched its investigation in November 2014 following a formal complaint
from Virgin Media.

Record rights deal

In February 2015 the Premier League struck a deal with BT and Sky worth
over £5bn to show just 168 out of 380 games on UK television (44% of
games). Only 13% of football fans think fans will benefit from the new
rights deal, while over half (53%) think the FA Premier League itself
will be the main beneficiary.

Some 70% of football fans think it is unfair that they have to buy both
Sky and BT bundles or add-ons to watch the games they want to see, with
73% of fans saying they would watch more games if they were available on
TV.

Fans living abroad better off than UK

The number of games shown in the UK has increased by just 21% over the
last eight years, yet the price of the rights has increased nearly 200%
over this period. Meanwhile in the US, for example, NBC is reported to
have paid around £660m for six seasons’ worth of TV rights, showing all
380 Premier League matches. This means that US football fans are able to
watch more Premier League live football than UK TV viewers

With similar “all games” deals across Europe (for three seasons) UK
football fans pay twice as much to watch half the games as fans in
Europe. When asked about this arrangement 72% of English football fans
branded it unfair with over 60% of fans believing the increased cost is
to the benefit of clubs.

“Give us more games” say UK football fans

With some fans not being able to afford subscriptions to watch live
Premier League football, or some of their team’s games falling into the
212 games not shown on UK television, it’s not uncommon for fans to miss
their team’s matches.

When asked what they do in this situation 28% of fans say they miss the
match altogether with 20% watching games at the pub and over one in 10
fans (13%) streaming games via a website they don’t need to pay for.
Over 70% of football fans said would like be able to watch more of their
team’s games live on TV than they currently are able to.

Tom Mockridge, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Media, said:

“Football fans are getting a raw deal. They pay the highest prices in
Europe to watch top-flight football on TV yet are denied some of the
best matches

“Ofcom should show the red card to the Premier League and the way in
which TV rights are sold in the UK.”

Commenting specifically on the Ofcom investigation, Tom Mockridge
said:

“It’s time Ofcom decides whether an auction structure based on now
expired commitments agreed in 2006 justifies a self-determined exemption
from competition law. The results surely speak for themselves, over the
same period the cost of live TV rights have rocketed by nearly 200 per
cent.”

Notes for editors

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR) conducted an online poll of
1087 football fans in England and Wales. The survey fielded from 30
September 2015 to 5 October 2015. Football fans were defined as people
who watch at least one match every two weeks on live television, are
very or quite interested in football and are interested in the Premier
League or Championship.

Contacts

Virgin Media Press Office
Joe Thomas
0333 000 2591
press@virginmedia.co.uk