Viewing figures for the Premier League rose by five per cent last year after the previous season saw the lowest numbers for seven years.
The Broadcasters Audience Research Board’s (BARB) figures for the 2016/17 season revealed a drop in Sky and BT Sport’s viewership compared to the previous season.
The latest findings (reportedly seen by The Times) suggest an increase in those watching through traditional TV, though still not reaching the highs of the season prior to the slump.
According to top broadcasting executives, the 2017/18 recovery can be linked to the improved on-field fortunes of both Liverpool and Manchester United, as well as the return to the Premier League of Newcastle United.
The opening of the 2016/17 season coincided with the Rio Olympics, inflicting a significant drop in viewing figures during the early stages. In contrast, there was a sharp rise in figures during the same time period in the 2017/18 season, with Sky attracting audiences of 819,000 per match.
An unnamed senior executive suggested reasons for the recent recovery to The Times: “After Leicester had won the title in 2016, neither United nor Liverpool finished in the top four that season and, because expectations were low the following season, it meant viewers did not tune in in such large numbers, especially at the start of the campaign.
“Last season the expectations of both teams were higher, they both performed much better in the Premier League and that was reflected in the viewership. The other factor is Newcastle — when they are involved in a live match, particularly away from St James’ Park, that is reflected in high viewership.”