TV and English football

In 1992 the world changed forever. It had been on the horizon for years, but nobody knew when it was going to happen. Then in August 1992, it began. The first season of the “Premiership”, the top tier of English football. The Football Association had, up to that point, controlled all leagues in England but now the top 24 teams in the country had a breakaway league and this changed everything, including the way football in England was consumed.

Sky, owned by Rupert Murdoch, brought in a new era of football on television. No longer did consumers have to wait for highlights shows on national broadcasters, now they could pay to watch games live. Having studied a way sport was presented in America, Sky Sports made football much more than a match, they made it show.

TV money flowed into the English game. And slowly but surely more and more players from outside the British Isles came to England. In 1999, Chelsea fielded a starting XI with no English player for the first time ever. Sky had changed the English game forever, for good or for bad, clubs had more money than ever and instead of going to games, we could watch our favourite teams on television at midday and 5 pm on Saturday as well as midday and 4 o’clock on Sunday with an added bonus of a Monday night kick off.

In 2013, Sky’s stranglehold over viewing rights in the UK was broken. A new player, BT sports entered the market, winning the rights to 38 games in their first season, as well as launching new stations dedicated solely to sports. They acquired some of the best pundits and finally there was a product to challenges Sky’s monopoly. In 2015, they won the rights to Champions League games, taking the rights from Sky. Although the final and games involving English teams were still on free-to-air stations.

26 years after Sky won the rights to the Premiership, much has changed in the game in England. Television money has attracted better players, increased salaries and an improvement in infrastructure in the game. Because of this, the stakes for clubs have never been higher to stay among the elite. The future will bring no change for as long as BT and Sky continue to compete, consumers can continue to watch the best of the best from the comfort of their living room.