Greene King has scrapped over a quarter of its managed house Sky subscriptions.
The move came after the company discovered broadcasting live football matches was not lifting sales enough to justify the cost of having the package.
It follows the latest round of price increases for Sky customers as well as an announcement last week that the Office of Fair Trading had ruled against taking any action over what the trade claims is Sky's monopoly over the commercial pub TV market.
Greene King, which had Sky in 373 of its managed houses, has removed it from 100 of those outlets after it measured sales during a football match and compared this with trading figures on other evenings.
"We categorised our pubs in to divisions just like the Football League, based on the sales performance when we showed the football," said managed boss Neil Gillis.
"We kept Sky Sports in the pubs that fell into the Premiership category for sales. But we removed it from those pubs that weren't making money from it."
Many licensees are angered at the cost of Sky, claiming prices have doubled in the last few years. One industry observer told thePublican.com: "If it is not making money, then there would seem little point in having it."
It is thought the move by Greene King could now be mirrored across the industry. But a Sky spokesman said: "We would always expect to see movement in the numbers up and down - it's not really a significant drop."
Meanwhile, Sky revealed that 60 per cent of publicans who subscribe to Sky digital watch the service's dedicated Pub Channel. A survey of 600 pub and club subscribers, commissioned by the satellite giant, found 57.5 per cent of publicans tune in and 33 per cent watch regularly.
OFT to take no further action over Sky (23 August 2002)
Licensee calls for Sky boycott over latest price increase (5 July 2002)
The OFT's decision not to take action over Sky's 'monopoly' has angered hundreds of licensees. Jackie Annett examines a fraught relationship