After paying a record-breaking price for the right to screen Premier League matches, Sky is planning to increase the price of its sports and family entertainment packages.
Five weeks ago, after paying out £4.2 billion for the Premier League rights, the company claimed that it would try and minimise the cost impact on customers, and that it would be able to finance the deal mainly through efficiency savings.
The deal won Sky the rights to 126 live games a season between 2016 and 2019, while rival BT Sport forked out £960 million for 42 games.
Sky normally puts its prices up every September, Now, though, the cost of a sports bundle is set to go up by £1 to £47 on 1 June. Meanwhile, the company's family bundle, which includes top-rated TV shows and access to drama channel Sky Atlantic, will rise by £3 a month to £36. There will also be a 50p-per-month increase in the cost of Sky Movies.
The lower price rise for the sports channels may reflect Sky's concern that viewers could defect to BT, which will also screen European Champions League matches from later this year.
According to a survey earlier this month carried out by Kantar Media, 37% of fans subscribe to both Sky Sports and BT Sport in order to be able to watch every game their team plays.
But, the researchers found, many people struggle to pay for their subscriptions. A third of TV sports viewers say they are struggling to pay their subscriptions, and nearly two thirds have cut back on everyday spending to do so. One fifth have even borrowed.
More than eight out of ten football fans interested in taking up a subscription for live games say that the price is putting them off; and 68% of fans that have cancelled a subscription during the last five years say that the main reason was the cost.
"British fans pay the most in Europe to watch football on TV and they are not even getting all the matches they want. Too many people feel they now have to choose between basic essentials and watching the game they love," says Brigitte Trafford, chief corporate affairs officer at Virgin Media.
"If action is not taken to change the way the Premier League sells TV rights, the rapidly rising cost of watching football at home will see even more people priced out of the national sport."
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