Sky Sports unveils new look, but how much money could consumers save?

Sky Sports have formally unveiled a new look to their channels, which takes effect from Tuesday 18th July. The new look comprises of the following ten channels (channel numbers apply for the Sky platform):

  • 401 – Sky Sports Main Event
  • 402 – Sky Sports Premier League
  • 403 – Sky Sports Football
  • 404 – Sky Sports Cricket
  • 405 – Sky Sports Golf
  • 406 – Sky Sports F1
  • 407 – Sky Sports Action
  • 408 – Sky Sports Arena
  • 409 – Sky Sports News
  • 121 – Sky Sports Mix

After 23 years, the Sky Sports numbered branding of 1 and 2, expanding in more recent years to cover 3, 4 and 5, will disappear in the early hours of next Tuesday morning, with ‘themed’ channels replacing them.

The main change for Sky’s customers is the pricing structure, which allows consumers to pick the channels they want to view. One Sky Sports channel is available for £18.00, two channels for £22.00 and three channels for £26.00 a month. The complete Sky Sports pack continues to cost £27.50 per month with the HD Pack adding a further £6.00 per month.

Sky Sports Main Event, which highlights the best live action the pay-TV company has on offer, is only available as part of the full sports pack, whilst Action and Arena are part of one channel ‘set’.

Sky claims in their press release that Premier League football is available for “as little as 60p a day”, which is disingenuous at best. This figure conveniently fails to account for the compulsory Original Bundle which customers require to access the Sky Sports portfolio of channels, increasing the cost per day to at least £1.30 a day. Unfortunately, respected broadsheets have picked up and ran with the quoted lower figure.

Overall, if you are a sporty guy or girl who likes to watch a range of sport, chances are you are going to stick with your current offering. For example, if you like football, cricket and F1, you would ‘pick and choose’ channels, eventually ending back where you started. So, the reality is that the table I posted in my calculations piece in March is likely to stay the same:

Option SD
Sky Q 1TB Box
Sky Q 1TB Box
UHD + SD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
UHD + HD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
Bundle – Original £22.00 £22.00
Bundle – Box Sets £38.00 £38.00
Bundle – Sky Sports £27.50 £27.50 £27.50 £27.50
Sky Sports HD Pack £6.00 £6.00
Sky Q Multiscreen £12.00 £12.00
Monthly Cost £49.50 £71.50 £61.50 £83.50
Yearly Cost £594.00 £858.00 £738.00 £1,002.00
One-Off Installation Cost £15.00 £15.00 £60.00 £60.00
Yearly Cost £609.00 £873.00 £798.00 £1,062.00

The only real gain here is for readers that like Formula 1 and no other sport. For existing customers, this is simply an artificial change and nothing more. For new customers interested in a specific sport, there are some genuine choices here. A customer interested in just Formula 1 and no other sports will save £114.00 across the year.

Option SD
Sky Q 1TB Box
Sky Q 1TB Box
UHD + SD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
UHD + HD all
Sky Q 2TB Box
Bundle – Original £22.00 £22.00
Bundle – Box Sets £38.00 £38.00
Sky Sports F1 only £18.00 £18.00 £18.00 £18.00
Sky Sports HD Pack £6.00 £6.00
Sky Q Multiscreen £12.00 £12.00
Monthly Cost £40.00 £62.00 £52.00 £74.00
Yearly Cost £480.00 £744.00 £624.00 £888.00
One-Off Installation Cost £15.00 £15.00 £60.00 £60.00
Yearly Cost £495.00 £759.00 £684.00 £948.00

Across the year, it is a lot of money that you could save by going with just Sky Sports F1, although I suspect a lot of consumers will end up with either two channels or the whole pack. The risk for Sky is if subscribers who only have a casual interest in Formula 1 and love football choose to lower their subscription so it only the Premier League and Football channels.

From a viewing figures perspective, the move might turn out badly for F1 in that the number of hardcore Premier League football fans heavily outweighs the number of hardcore Formula 1 fans. I do not expect any major fluctuation in audiences, but it is something to monitor. Personally, £40.00 a month is still a high entry price and can consumers justify paying £18.00 for just the F1 channel?

In terms of competition between Sky, Virgin Media and BT, it looks like Virgin Media are offering (or being forced into) a ‘all or nothing’ approach with its customers, which means that the entry price on Sky is now significantly lower than Virgin Media – again this assumes that you are only interested in a limited range of sports. I calculated an entry price of £635.99 for Virgin Media in March, so Sky undercuts that by £140.99.

Overall, the move by Sky whilst good, will probably only influence the decision-making for a small proportion of their customer base. Had the entry price for Sky Sports been lower, I suspect the changes in customer habits might have been more drastic. I do not see people thinking that “£18 for one Sky Sports channel per month” is a bargain.

Also, if you are currently a cord cutter and choose to get your viewing via ‘other means’, then I do not think Sky’s latest pricing strategy will change your mindset. It is, however, a step in the right direction for the satellite pay-TV broadcaster.

Note from Dave – It is possible that there may be some minor adjustments to this once we see the small print, if so, I will update this post.


13 thoughts on “Sky Sports unveils new look, but how much money could consumers save?

  1. Still have to have all the other channels and pay through the nose if you want full control in other rooms. Given the amount of excellent motor sport that is available for free the F1 experience just doesn’t offer enough for a £40 month outlay.

    1. Me too. Though I wonder what the offer from NowTV will be, as at present it is the cheapest way of watching F1 on Sky when not on Ch4. Though they still have no one who understands how F1 is broadcast. If they offered the three days for £8 I might go with it, having the rest of the week is of no interest to me.

  2. Was really looking forward to this when I first heard about, as I’m only interested in F1.
    £18 a month crushed my interest in the channel.

  3. Is it possible to subscribe on a month to month basis, i.e. cancelling over the winter or the summer break?

  4. So with Silverstone gone they’ll be NO Grand Prix lives at all for free-to-air viewers in 2019. That will be it for me at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Goodbye free-to-air F1
    RIP 1978-2018

  5. Use your best efforts and ye shall be appropriately rewarded!

    Even if Sky reduced their monthly tax to lower, more reasonable rates – any consenting viewer is still faced with the justifiable moral quandary: do I want to subsidise the poisoness Murdoch press, or should I fight it?

    I sincerely hope the media savvy men from Liberty are accounting for all of this – as they plan their medium to long term strategies.

    Skilled as they are, I suspect Chase Carey etc are capable of calculating income lost to out-priced fans and anti-Murdoch afficianados alike.

    It’s not surprising TV viewing figures have dived during Austria. Sky could have used the amazing post-Azerbaijan momentum to maximize eyes on screen.

    Instead they plod on with cheap-ass uninspired programming over race weekends, with nothing new to join the inbetween dots – and no original programming to take advantage of the sport they enjoy precious exclusivity and rights to.

    The recent changes in Sky Sports pricing helps no one at all. They’ve just found additional ways of over-charging all sports fans.

    The UK has a proud FTA history. Make it even better by negotiating your own route around the current boundaries! Ensure the likes of Murdoch known what they’re up against!

  6. The problem for TV channels everywhere is not dissimilar to that of the airline industry. You only have to look at brand like BA to know what the low budget competition has done to that industry. Like the airlines, Sky now offer a cheap basic price – but now literally everything is extra. Sports? Extra. HD? Extra (oh and you’ll need a specific bundle.) Sky Go? Extra. Multi-room? Extra.

    While a handful of customers might take the cheapest option, these changes actually disadvantage those who want the price to come down more generally. It’s easy to talk about splitting packages up and giving more to the customer. But actually what you end up with is a piecemeal service for the benefit of a handful (and it is a handful) of cord cutters.

    Ultimately live sport now costs big cahoonas. Sky have gone big in bidding for both the Premier League and F1, and eventually they will have to pay for it. Just look across the way at BT Sport who also splashed on the UCL, and that’s now an extra £28 per month. As that particular battle shows – the customer rarely benefits from competition when it comes to price.

    So it actually makes sense that Sky’s coverage cost about the same as it does now. And it’s nice that you can just get the F1 channel on its own. But as this article highlights, HD should be a minimum requirement given the cost of getting just the one additional channel.

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