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Over 60% of football fans have cut back on spending to keep watching TV games

Thursday, March 12th 2015 by Dean Reilly

64% of Premier League fans have cut back on everyday spending to continue paying for their sports TV subscriptions, a new study has revealed.

The ‘Consumer perceptions of choice, pricing and availability of English Premier League broadcasting report’, commissioned by Virgin Media, found that fans admitted to going out less, buying cheaper goods or services and doing without luxuries to pay for sports channels.

A third of existing sports TV viewers (33%) said they were now struggling to pay for their subscription. Fans wishing to watch all broadcasted Premier League matches would need to subscribe to both Sky Sport and BT Sports.

17% of those polled also said they either sold items, borrowed money from family or friends, or took out a bank loan to fund continued access to their favourite sport on TV.

More than a third (37%) of football TV viewers currently subscribe to both BT Sport and Sky Sports to access every Premier League game on television.

Yet 41% still want to see more matches, with almost half (48%) expressing an interesting in watching every match involving the team they support.

The research, conducted by Kanta Media, was undertaken after Ofcom launched an investigation into how Premier League live TV rights auctions are conducted.

The survey asked respondents about their Premier League viewing habits as well as perceptions of price and quality. The sample consisted of 1,000 consumers who have at least some interest in the EPL.

Virgin Media had complained to the telecoms regulator that the process was in breach of both UK and EU competition law. However, Ofcom rejected Virgin Media’s application to delay the Premier League TV rights auction, which went on to earn the Football Association a record £5.13bn.

'Priced out of the national sport'

Sky TV secured 126 matches, an increase on the 116 matches won in the previous auction, while BT secured the rights to 42 games, after previously broadcasting 38 matches per season.

As previously reported, the record breaking auction resulted in Sky securing the broadcasting rights to 75% of Premier League matches.

Brigitte Trafford, chief corporate affairs officer at Virgin Media, said: “British fans pay the most in Europe to watch football on TV and they are not even getting all the matches they want. Too many people feel they now have to choose between basic essentials and watching the game they love.

If action is not taken to change the way the Premier League sells TV rights, the rapidly rising cost of watching football at home will see even more people priced out of the national sport.”

John Whittingdale, head of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, had earlier told Cable.co.uk that the amount of money bid for Premier League broadcast rights was “out of control”.

He said: “I don't actually think it's been particularly good for the game because it's all flowing straight into players' salaries.”

The previous auction of UK TV broadcasting rights, held in 2012, earned the Premier League £3bn. This was a 67% rise compared to the 2009 auction price of £1.78bn.

Earnings from global television rights for the last three seasons generated approximately £5.5bn for the Football Association.

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