Sky Announce new 5-Year Scottish Football Deal
Nathan White, Account Manager
Sky have secured exclusive rights to cover the Scottish Premiership for five years beginning from the 2020/2021 season – much to the apparent dismay of Scottish football fans. Currently broadcasting for the league is split between Sky and BT with the latter receiving much love for its off-the-wall and passionate coverage.
The good news for fans and clubs alike is that the deal is worth a reported £32 million per season, much improved on the current deal in place. Whilst this number is dwarfed by sums received south of the border it is on par with similar sized nations across Europe, providing a much-needed boost to the revenue of all clubs.
So why the negative reaction to the new deal?
Much of this comes from the fact that BT have done such a good job of covering a league that has been much maligned in the past. What the league lacks in quality it makes up in drama and eccentricity from the mascots to the managers – the game in Scotland is certainly far from dull. BT’s coverage reflects the unorthodox nature of Scottish football with significant airtime and in-depth analysis being dedicated to all teams in the league. This is backed up with a popular and opinionated cast of pundits who seem to genuinely care about Scottish football. This has not gone unnoticed by fans with a recent Twitter poll on the subject of TV rights showing BT as having 86% of fans’ preference on securing future rights.
Over the same period as BT, Sky’s coverage has been devoid of interesting opinions, pundits and coverage. The channel currently dedicates around 30 minutes of build up to each match which is usually a couple of sound bites from three former players and a couple of short videos thrown in for good measure. The main criticism is that the channel does very little to talk up the game whilst BT do everything they can to talk it up with presenters who cross over in coverage often defending it across TV, radio and Twitter. Overriding all of this is simple gaffes which irk the supporters even more and leave Sky open to the opinion that they just don’t care much about Scottish football.
— stephen donnachie (@realbigdee) November 17, 2018
I hope Sky learn from BT and look at supporters’ feedback on what they loved about the coverage and take that model forward for the next 5 years and really get behind our game. There is so much appetite for competent, insightful broadcasting of our game. Recently it was revealed that the Scottish Premiership is the highest attended league in Europe per population, underlining the love for the sport in the country. With such love should come great opportunity for sponsors and advertisers to get on board with leagues and clubs. They just need to look at the goodwill afforded to the BT brand for putting in the effort to get to know the game in Scotland.
Rarely has a broadcaster stirred such feeling in Scotland and there is genuine upset that the relationship is drawing to an end. This should be the lesson for any sponsor or advertising aligning with in our game, get to know the league and fans and produce the content they want – and appreciation will follow. There are many independent platforms tapping into this already, for example Open Goal have offered fans something different and are being reward with a dedicated and passionate following online. Do it right, do it well and the love will follow.
Despite the negativity the SPFL should take a pat on the back for securing what on paper looks like a very good deal for Scottish football, here’s to many more!