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Sky UK Expectations


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I don't know what Sky UK expect from RL in return for a TV deal. A minimum 12 teams I assume. Do they care if there are teams outside of the UK. Toronto's arrival and departure didn't seem to matter. With two sides now based in France, do they have anything to gain as opposed to a London team or one in Featherstone? 

My blog: https://rugbyl.blogspot.co.nz/

It takes wisdom to know when a discussion has run its course.

It takes reasonableness to end that discussion. 

 

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Super League is regional based filler content that does not drive subscriptions in a way that would be noticeable to Sky but provides a solid if not spectacular regular audience. It has a deal relative to that for the next 2 years.

Sky do not need/want to "grow" the sport, nor do they want to see it shrink. Its just not in their commercial remit. That aspect has changed over the past 25 years I feel where Sky originally appeared to buy the sport with a purpose. 

The real failure has been that the sport hasn't invested central funds from Sky when they were at an all time high into ensuring the next deal was worth more or at least the same. 

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1 hour ago, Tommygilf said:

Super League is regional based filler content that does not drive subscriptions in a way that would be noticeable to Sky but provides a solid if not spectacular regular audience. It has a deal relative to that for the next 2 years.

Sky do not need/want to "grow" the sport, nor do they want to see it shrink. Its just not in their commercial remit. That aspect has changed over the past 25 years I feel where Sky originally appeared to buy the sport with a purpose. 

The real failure has been that the sport hasn't invested central funds from Sky when they were at an all time high into ensuring the next deal was worth more or at least the same. 

I think that is a brilliant assessment mate.

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SL has a viewership of 150-200k on average, more for bigger events. 

That's pretty much been the case for the last three decades. Some may see that as failure, but another very similar sport to us has been exactly the same, slightly behind us, and they are far richer, bigger and better organised. 

The 200k that watch RL is bigger than our footprint, so even if we get an extra 10k fans in Newcastle it won't change the top line. These numbers have been consistent whether we have had expansion teams in or out - it is a mistake imo to think adding a new team or two will make any material changes. 

Becoming more vibrant as a comp with bigger crowds and better games, and a focus on content (more or different) is where we will change things - lack of competition is what has ultimately led to this drop, Sky are not bothered whether Warrington were a bit boring under Steve Price. Sky knew they could pay £25m instead of £40m. 

The filler point is relevant, but we were filler when we got £40m, so we shouldn't overstate that. Sky need filler. 

We need to stop talking ourselves into crisis, talking down our sport, and we need to reinvent our broadcasting offering. 

In reality, the other similar sport has only driven club growth through a new comp (European Cup). I genuinely believe our big chance was an expanded WCC which feels further away than ever. 

Focus on more content, women's RL, and putting on the best show we can above everything else, and go all out to stimulate demand outside of Sky. 

Edited by Dave T
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43 minutes ago, Dave T said:

SL has a viewership of 150-200k on average, more for bigger events. 

That's pretty much been the case for the last three decades. Some may see that as failure, but another very similar sport to us has been exactly the same, slightly behind us, and they are far richer, bigger and better organised. 

The 200k that watch RL is bigger than our footprint, so even if we get an extra 10k fans in Newcastle it won't change the top line. These numbers have been consistent whether we have had expansion teams in or out - it is a mistake imo to think adding a new team or two will make any material changes. 

Becoming more vibrant as a comp with bigger crowds and better games, and a focus on content (more or different) is where we will change things - lack of competition is what has ultimately led to this drop, Sky are not bothered whether Warrington were a bit boring under Steve Price. Sky knew they could pay £25m instead of £40m. 

The filler point is relevant, but we were filler when we got £40m, so we shouldn't overstate that. Sky need filler. 

We need to stop talking ourselves into crisis, talking down our sport, and we need to reinvent our broadcasting offering. 

In reality, the other similar sport has only driven club growth through a new comp (European Cup). I genuinely believe our big chance was an expanded WCC which feels further away than ever. 

Focus on more content, women's RL, and putting on the best show we can above everything else, and go all out to stimulate demand outside of Sky. 

Agreed but I wish people would stop quoting £40m vs £25m because the deals aren’t like for like and there’s plenty of additional value in the £25m deal. Maybe less than the £40m but just quoting those 2 figures is misleading 

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1 minute ago, DoubleD said:

Agreed but I wish people would stop quoting £40m vs £25m because the deals aren’t like for like and there’s plenty of additional value in the £25m deal. Maybe less than the £40m but just quoting those 2 figures is misleading 

It is, but the bottom line is that Sky were prepared to pay £40m cash last time, and only wanted to pay £25m this time. The differences in the deal are where the negotiation came in. But ultimately the core of the deal is the same (2 live games per week, plus Magic and Playoffs). 

The difference is that the £25m deal may be worth £29m to SL for example - that is good context for the game, but would be impossible to compare like for like. 

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2 hours ago, Dave T said:

SL has a viewership of 150-200k on average, more for bigger events. 

That's pretty much been the case for the last three decades. Some may see that as failure, but another very similar sport to us has been exactly the same, slightly behind us, and they are far richer, bigger and better organised. 

The 200k that watch RL is bigger than our footprint, so even if we get an extra 10k fans in Newcastle it won't change the top line. These numbers have been consistent whether we have had expansion teams in or out - it is a mistake imo to think adding a new team or two will make any material changes. 

Becoming more vibrant as a comp with bigger crowds and better games, and a focus on content (more or different) is where we will change things - lack of competition is what has ultimately led to this drop, Sky are not bothered whether Warrington were a bit boring under Steve Price. Sky knew they could pay £25m instead of £40m. 

The filler point is relevant, but we were filler when we got £40m, so we shouldn't overstate that. Sky need filler. 

We need to stop talking ourselves into crisis, talking down our sport, and we need to reinvent our broadcasting offering. 

In reality, the other similar sport has only driven club growth through a new comp (European Cup). I genuinely believe our big chance was an expanded WCC which feels further away than ever. 

Focus on more content, women's RL, and putting on the best show we can above everything else, and go all out to stimulate demand outside of Sky. 

I'd agree with this. 

Talk of whether Sky want arbitrary numbers of teams, or certain teams, in or out of the league is really looking at the problem the wrong way. 

Sky simply want an entertainment product that puts bums on sofas, can pull in an audience that makes their advertising slots more valuable, and keep people watching Sky Sports at home, online or on whatever other device Sky will gladly serve content to you on. 

RL isn't ever going to be a major driver of subscriptions, nor do enough existing subscriptions rely on RL for it to really be much of a consideration. The issue is whether RL provides a quantity of content that is good enough to keep the core Sky Sports subscriber base satisfied in those times where there is no Premier League football or other "crown jewel" sports, such as Formula 1 of golf majors. Can Super League RL do that better than, for example, darts or boxing - which are relatively cheap sports to broadcast, or any other sport that Sky could simply "buy in" from elsewhere (for example, La Liga or Bundesliga football, cricket from around the world, or this thing?) 

Where we play our sport, the names of the teams and how many of them we have are all largely irrelevant in the context of how Sky see us. They might be relevant in other contexts, such as attracting commercial partners or overseas broadcasting, but they're not relevant in the context of how Sky see us. 

Sky simply pays Super League to provide content that serves the needs of its audience and, like any client, if it feels that the product isn't meeting those expectations, it's going to turn the screw and ask us to shape up. 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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6 minutes ago, whatmichaelsays said:

Where we play our sport, the names of the teams and how many of them we have are all largely irrelevant in the context of how Sky see us.

I forget this more often than I remember it but it's worth understanding that the overwhelming majority of people outside of the north have no real concept of where places there are. Most aren't going to know that Wakefield and Castleford are near each other or that Leigh is just a small bit of Wigan. They will, because stereotypes, know that rugby league is northern but they won't get just how compact its part of the north is.

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2 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

I forget this more often than I remember it but it's worth understanding that the overwhelming majority of people outside of the north have no real concept of where places there are. Most aren't going to know that Wakefield and Castleford are near each other or that Leigh is just a small bit of Wigan. They will, because stereotypes, know that rugby league is northern but they won't get just how compact its part of the north is.

I think this is a good point. I think we often over-state some of the issues. Clubs being so close may be an issue for canibalisation reasons, but I dont think it is an issue to tv viewers at all for the reason you outline. It could be a bonus due to the rivalry and atmosphere coming across well. 

Similarly, some people believe Cas' stadium is an absolute embarrassment on TV, when I don't think TV viewers are that interested. 

I think we need to appreciate that people often understand context and the real world. We can be overly harsh on ourselves - people understand that Rugby League is not the NFL - but RL fans will still compare them directly. 

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4 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

I forget this more often than I remember it but it's worth understanding that the overwhelming majority of people outside of the north have no real concept of where places there are. Most aren't going to know that Wakefield and Castleford are near each other or that Leigh is just a small bit of Wigan. They will, because stereotypes, know that rugby league is northern but they won't get just how compact its part of the north is.

True. I've said before that I really don't think that geography is our biggest problem here. Or at least, on the list of problems, it's way, way down towards the bottom. That's one of the reasons why. 

But when you consider RL as a form of entertainment and content, it's irrelevant where we actually produce that content. What's relevant is how good it is, and how easy we make it for people to access it. And that's why Sky cares about. 

We have more channels than ever to try and get RL content to people irrespective how of close they are to the M62, but the sport doesn't make use of them.

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12 minutes ago, Dave T said:

I think this is a good point. I think we often over-state some of the issues. Clubs being so close may be an issue for canibalisation reasons, but I dont think it is an issue to tv viewers at all for the reason you outline. It could be a bonus due to the rivalry and atmosphere coming across well. 

Similarly, some people believe Cas' stadium is an absolute embarrassment on TV, when I don't think TV viewers are that interested. 

I think we need to appreciate that people often understand context and the real world. We can be overly harsh on ourselves - people understand that Rugby League is not the NFL - but RL fans will still compare them directly. 

I agree with much of this and what others above have added. The only bit I disagree with however is the visual presentation of SL. Sky air the NRL, which is a direct comparison (opposed to NFL) and the way that is presented compared to SL really does make our game look second rate. I've brought this up many times on various threads and I know there's no easy solutions financially, but how the game is received is very much driven by how it is presented IMO. 

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12 minutes ago, hunsletgreenandgold said:

I agree with much of this and what others above have added. The only bit I disagree with however is the visual presentation of SL. Sky air the NRL, which is a direct comparison (opposed to NFL) and the way that is presented compared to SL really does make our game look second rate. I've brought this up many times on various threads and I know there's no easy solutions financially, but how the game is received is very much driven by how it is presented IMO. 

How do you mean? How we present the games at the stadium or Sky? 

I don't think our in-stadium presentation is bad. We compare favourably toamy NRL events that are played in huge grounds with 50k empty seats.  But the likes of Brisbane games at Suncorp will always look great. 

In terms of Sky presentation, I think we go over the top with criticism, I despise Baz and Tez, but can live with the rest. I also think the way sport is presented here and in Oz is different, I think some of the Fox stuff is decent, but a bit over-polished and American. I liked the more casual chats that the Sky pundits stood in a bigger studio during Covid - I think that was more modern. 

I don't think we have too much of an issue in this area tbh, sure it could be sharper, but UK Sky viewers see RL presebted in the same way as other British sports on Sky. 

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52 minutes ago, wilsontown said:

For what it's worth I think Wheldon Road looks fine on TV. It's only when you go there in person that it seems like a falling-down death trap.

Agreed. I always think it comes across well on TV, especially floodlit games. A lively bouncing crowd, right on top of the players. Which is largely down to the fact that over the last few years its been host to an attractive brand of winning rugby. No-one who enjoys that on TV cares that it's a dump in person. 

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57 minutes ago, wilsontown said:

For what it's worth I think Wheldon Road looks fine on TV. It's only when you go there in person that it seems like a falling-down death trap.

SL in general looks quite good on tv imho. 

Leeds, Saints, Wire, Hull, Hull KR, Catalans, Cas generally show up well on TV irrespective of the game being played. 

Wigan can be hit and miss, but is outstanding when they bring in a crowd. Salford is a weird little ground, but can be OK, particularly with an away following. 

Wakefield and Hudds both look poor and generally get few games shown because of that. 

Toulouse looked good with 9k in the last few weeks, so should look good. 

As a sport we spend a disproportionate amount of time moaning about the two or three poor examples.

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It might be a dump but it’s also a great place to watch rugby league. I’d love to know how many of the folk on here who slag all these places off are just actually sky tv subscribers and have never been to an actual rugby league ground in their life?

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3 hours ago, Dave T said:

SL has a viewership of 150-200k on average, more for bigger events. 

 

Just on these numbers:

200K on average seems quite good.

Would need to compare to other sports on Sky I guess.

I know Premiership football gets millions peak for the big club games but for other games they average around 650K for say two middle ranking clubs.

So a comparison to those lower ranking PL games 200k is not bad.

As per PL league and the quite big difference depending on clubs playing is it similar for RL or is it quite consistent no matter whom is playing do you know.

I ask as you seem to take a keen interest in viewing numbers.

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14 minutes ago, Morris Wanchuk said:

I’d love to know how many of the folk on here who slag all these places off are just actually sky tv subscribers and have never been to an actual rugby league ground in their life?

Do you think many people who take the time to register and post on a rugby league board have never been to a rugby league game?

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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It's by no means an original observation, but the one huge irritation with Sky coverage for me is the miking up of the refs. Any atmosphere at the game is instantly lost when the volume level of the ref is louder than both the crowd and commentators. It then becomes the same sort of viewing experience as a behind closed doors match. I've never understood why the sound engineers at Sky can't at least mix the ref's mike down and have the crowd and commentary at a higher level. It's like going to see an orchestra and having to listen to the conductor.

To me it's such a quick win which costs Sky absolutely nothing but has the potential of pulling in the casual viewer. If I channel hopped onto a game and was met by MOOOVE at high volume every 10 seconds I'd be hopping off again pretty sharpish.

I'd even put up with Barrie and Terry if they fixed this.

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11 minutes ago, redjonn said:

Just on these numbers:

200K on average seems quite good.

Would need to compare to other sports on Sky I guess.

I know Premiership football gets millions peak for the big club games but for other games they average around 650K for say two middle ranking clubs.

So a comparison to those lower ranking PL games 200k is not bad.

As per PL league and the quite big difference depending on clubs playing is it similar for RL or is it quite consistent no matter whom is playing do you know.

I ask as you seem to take a keen interest in viewing numbers.

The numbers vary quite a bit but don't necessarily correlate with who is playing. The biggest factor tends to be around scheduling and competition on other channels (hence my hypothesis that RL is a good secondary sport for many viewers). 

Clear examples of this are that the best rated Grand Final was Saints v Salford over the many Saints v Wigan or Leeds games. 

We also saw a great figure for Catalans v Hull KR earlier this year, but a Catalans also returned some of the lowest figures for other games. 

There is some correlation around games, I. E. Big derbies do ok, but they often come with more promotion and better scheduling. 

One of the other important factors that goes in SL's favour is that when we are playing post-football season, we often provide very good figures compared to other content - they drop off a cliff for Sky Sports during the Summer months. 

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On the OP's point, wouldn't Sky have some preference - if not say - about who is in Super League?

Presumably Bradford and London would drive subscriptions more than, say, Halifax and Sheffield?

Toulouse are a slightly different proposition, as while they wouldn't shift Sky subs to French-based fans, they potentially offer 'free' content (i.e. no production costs) that comes with its own benefits.

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4 minutes ago, Man of Kent said:

Presumably Bradford and London would drive subscriptions more than, say, Halifax and Sheffield?

Why?

Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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54 minutes ago, gingerjon said:

Do you think many people who take the time to register and post on a rugby league board have never been to a rugby league game?

It’s a crazy world mate, so it would not surprise me at all. Some of the stuff posted on here is just pipe dream stuff with no connection to reality, and I was not suggesting they don’t watch rugby league, just the tv version. 

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1 hour ago, Morris Wanchuk said:

It might be a dump but it’s also a great place to watch rugby league. I’d love to know how many of the folk on here who slag all these places off are just actually sky tv subscribers and have never been to an actual rugby league ground in their life?

Central Park and Knowsley Road knocked Weldon Road into a cocked hat for being a great place to watch rugby league in the last century. 

As to going to an actual rugby league ground I suppose I've gone all soft in that I would like basic hygiene facilities when I pay over £25 for access to a venue. 

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