Premier League football has suffered the largest drop in viewing on Sky Sports in seven years.
The news comes in the same week that Premier League football clubs called for more games to be broadcast live on TV.
The irony will be lost on few, with the Telegraph reporting that clubs want to make more than 200 of the 380 games played throughout the season available in the tender process.
Such a change would represent a significant increase on the current deal, which saw Sky and BT pay £5.14 billion for the live rights to 168 matches each season between 2016 and 2019.
It is believed that the Premier League will consider Saturday evening (7.45pm KO) matches, which has the potential to cause a riot among travelling away fans.
Average viewing on Sky’s live TV channels fell 14 per cent over the last season, in spite of the fact that the pay-TV giant paid two-thirds more to show the matches under the latest package.
BT recorded a more modest fall of two per cent in average viewing across the season.
Sky stated that the relegation of big clubs such as Newcastle and Aston Villa in the previous season hit viewing, as did live coverage of the Rio Olympic Games on the BBC in August.
The Telegraph reported that several clubs are believed to be in favour of increasing the number of games available for sale. Last month, Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan spoke at the Telegraph Business of Sport conference, where he stated that a failure to do so risked a crash in the broadcast rights market comparable to the 2008 global financial crisis. He also referred to the league’s commercial ambitions and compared it to the film industry.
“Well, the X-Men movie franchise is £10 billion, so let’s get context about how big this business really is against how big it really could be,” he said.
TVBEurope has contacted Sky for comment.