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Challenges for televised football

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In the first ten weeks of this season viewing figures for live Premier League games on Sky fell by 12 per cent year on year.    Sky blames the decline in viewing on fewer big name clashes at the start of the season.   However, it says that it registered a 3.5 million peak audience during Liverpool's clash with Manchester United on October 17th, its highest rated Premier League game for three years.

In August, viewing figures were down as much by 28 per cent compared with 2015, as football clashed with the Olympic Games from Rio de Janeiro.   However, Sky claims audiences have recovered with October showing a more modest two per cent decline.

By contrast BT's viewing figures have risen by seven per cent for the first 13 matches of this season compared with the same period last year, largely due to a scheduling shift to a more attractive time.

Fans watched unauthorised livestreams represent a continuing threat to revenues.   In the long run, as viewers become accustomed to watching football in a variety of ways - on phones and tablets, in bite-sized clips - television will have to become less reliant on millions paying to plug set top boxes into their flat screens.

Whether this will affect the Premier League's revenue stream is another matter.    Bidding wars could be spurred by the strategies of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook which all see live video as central to their effort to increase their viewers.