Publicans face a dilemma as the football season takes off - to pay the increased Sky subscription or risk losing trade, reports Phil Mellows.
It begins with a rumbling of discontent that grows to a surge of anger. But for football lovers the pub trade's reaction to the annual announcement of Sky's new subscription rates is the first sign that a new season is on its way. Just how far Sky can stretch publicans' pockets remains to be seen. For the 2005-6 season at least, we can be sure that many hundreds of pubs all over the country will continue to pay the fees - simply because televised sport is so important to their business. And sport, above all, means football.
Audience figures for televised sport in pubs continue to rise. Research released in June estimates that a staggering 5.4 million people watch a live game in a pub or club at least once a week. That is a figure that licensees cannot afford to ignore.
Sky Sports, of course, has used its buying power to squeeze most of the competition out of the market - and has sensibly targeted Britain's national game.
Over the coming Barclay's Premiership season it will screen 88 games exclusively live and, if you want to fork out the extra for the pay-per-view PremPlus package, you can show 50 more in prime weekend lunchtime and evening slots - more than a million people watched pay-per-view matches in the pub last season.
More on the coming football season:
- Click herefor details of live Premiership matches on Sky during 2005
- Click herefor advice on how to make the most of the coming season, including:
- How the World Cup qualifiers can boost football in your pub
- details of Champions League matches
- how to make the most of soft drinks on match days
- what WKD and Budweiser are doing for the new season.
- Offering food in your pub during football matches is a good idea, but it needs to be both quick and easy to eat and prepare - as Phil Mellows reports. Click here.
- Click herefor fixtures for Sky pay-per-view matches and Coca-Cola Championship matches live on Sky.