The news has been welcomed by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), but the trade body urged Sky to implement further freezes to encourage certainty for licensees in the longer term.
Alongside the price freeze for the 2015/16 season, Sky has launched a new free technology service alongside Molson Coors which allows licensees to advertise promotions and events as well as providing a share of the revenue.
UpLift Media involves placing 22in HD screens in outlets — one behind the bar, the other in high footfall areas — advertising key drinks brands and a live sports news feed.
Sky is rolling out the screens into 1,000 selected pubs, with plans to expand further beyond this year.
Initially the screens— which connect to the internet via a pub’s Wi-Fi or can use 3G connectivity — will display 12 different rotations, with the option for licensees to promote their own events and offers.
Licensees will also receive a fixed-monthly payment up to £1,200 per year dependent on outlet size and whether they are Sky and Molson Coors customers.
Pubs can choose which sports and fixtures to promote on the screens, or they can let Sky manage this automatically. To select what fixtures to advertise, licensees can add them via their profile on the new Sky customer website.
Alison Dolan, deputy managing director at Sky Business, said: “UpLift Media is a fresh way of promoting upcoming sporting fixtures as well as a pub’s own events and offers in-outlet that doesn’t involve paper PoS.
“The share of the advertising revenue should be appealing to licensees. Initial feedback has been very positive and this initiative will help drive more customer footfall and cash in the till.”
On pricing, Dolan said: “This freeze is good news for licensees. Over the last couple of years the conversation has become less about price and more about making the most of what the subscription offers. Clearly we recognise that this is a time of low inflation and we set that against the extent of the investment Sky continues to make in rights and customer support.”
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Sky’s commitment to freezing prices and customer support under its Go Further range is welcome news for licensees facing tightening margins in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
“A price freeze will provide licensees with some degree of assurance, but we would like to see Sky match its commitment to broadcasting Premier League football for the foreseeable future with a commitment to sustainable pricing for licensees.”
Next season will see Sky broadcast fewer games as it has lost the rights to Champions League football to rival broadcaster BT Sport.
Nicholls added: “Although Sky will be broadcasting a considerable number of Premier League fixtures, pubs and bars will have to look to their competitors for other competitions such as the UEFA Champions League and this brings increased costs.”