Sky have announced the biggest shakeup to Sky Sports in its 27-year long history by scrapping their numbered channels and replacing them with themed channels based around specific sports.
The retirement of Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 with Sky Sports Football, Golf, Cricket and more is joined by news that a new package two-thirds cheaper than the current cost of Sky Sports.
Themed Sky Sports channels might strike you as a familiar notion, and that’s because Sky have already done it – launching Sky Sports F1 at the start of last season. The new strategy will see football get two channels, golf and cricket with a channel each and Sky Sports Arena launching with a range of other content, including rugby and tennis.
It’s all part of a plan to help Sky entice new customers to their service who might have been unsure about shelling out up-to £49.50 a month for their cheapest sports package. The high cost of the packages has turned many young people away from the service and on to illegal online streams, harming viewing figures and leading Sky to question the long-term viability of their service.
The new package will be available from just £18 per month, although taking the whole package will remain at a price similar to current rates. Sky hope this will stimulate a rash of new calls to Sky customer services from new customers.
Some analysts have been quick to ascribe the pivot in strategy to the rise in popularity of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, which they suggest has created an expectation that TV should be cheaper than it currently is.
“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 recently suggested that the drop-in viewing figures for Premier League football was to do with a number of heavily supported teams dropping down to the Championship, however, this new move seems to indicate they believe it’s a matter of economics for most people.
One of Sky’s big current aims is to convince the 10 million homes currently enjoying Freeview to hop on board with a pay-TV supplier like Sky, and had been making efforts to do so with the launch of services like Now TV, which offers low-cost online streaming.
Indeed, Sky have signalled that they intend to offer a service which relies exclusively on streaming and would offer the same benefits at Sky Q, highlighting a move away from their traditional, high-cost and long-contract notions.
Sky have yet to officially announce when these changes will take effect, but you can expect us to update this article as and when that happens.