The current Premier League football season has had a lot of firsts: the (dubious) implementation of VAR, Liverpool taking 64 out of 66 points so far, and more importantly for all of us… a new way for consumers to watch the matches live.
Last month, Amazon stepped firmly into Sky and BT’s realm for the first time, with two rounds of fixtures in December. They showed all games at the start of December (3rd – 5th) and then all games on Boxing Day. All matches were free to Amazon Prime customers, with viewers being able to choose the match they wanted to watch. It was the first time that every game in a game week was broadcast.
As an agency, we rely on BARB to provide us with fully audited audience statistics. It’s not a perfect system (a sample of 5300 houses multiplied to indicate what the nation is watching), but it allows us to assess how many people watched specific programmes based on that sample. Unfortunately, Amazon have not allowed BARB to measure their audiences, meaning we are unable to report on their football audiences vs. that of Sky or BT. At least not in the same way we usually do…
Within BARB’s dataset, they have a segment of ‘unidentified viewing’ – this is where BARB can’t identify what the TV set is being used for (gaming, viewing SVOD or YouTube falls into this). This accounts for almost an hour per day of TV viewing and gives us a proxy for how SVOD is being consumed, given this is the main area of growth from this data set.
With the Premier League games being one-off events, we can compare the unidentified viewing at that moment in time with the historic trends to determine a rough gauge of how much of the viewing was because of the football. For the early December matches, we saw just under 6m watching TV via an unidentified device, this contrasts with 4.6m over the 5 previous Wednesdays. An increase of 1.4m which could be argued was due to the football coverage. The chart below shows this split by week:
Source: Mediatel, BARB all individuals 4+
All Response Media viewpoint
With Amazon already signed up for another two seasons, they know it’s a long-term play. Comparing the incremental unidentified viewing vs. Sky midweek games on BARB showed similar audience sizes. So, their coverage appears to be holding its own against the more established networks.
The restriction on betting adverts during live football has freed up impacts this season for other advertisers, and at attractive rates from saleshouses too, benefiting our clients looking at a more male-focused audience. Our benefit is Sky’s loss, with them seeing an 18% drop in ad revenue as a result of the gambling ban.
With lower ad revenue from the sport, it may limit Sky’s bidding aggression in the future, opening the door to even more entrants to the market. Especially for the likes of Amazon, using it as a vehicle to increase their subscription base. In this instance, they smartly timed their football coverage around the busy Christmas period and with a 30-day free trial of their full Prime service for new customers.
With the next rights auction not taking place for another 2 years, Amazon have time to assess next year’s games and decide on their future commitment. We know that their coverage is at least on par with Sky’s midweek games audience, which gives us confidence to investigate spot packages for our advertisers next season.
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