How Covid Has Affected the TV Audience

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Prior to the Pandemic in the last few decades, there has been an unprecedented rise in viewership, especially in sports. The increase was greatly fueled by the growth of cable television in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, the recent upsurge in viewership has been fueled strongly by the internet. 

How Covid Has Affected the TV Audience

Pandemic Leads to Boom in TV Audiences Watching Live Sport

This boom led to live event coverage, attracting crowds of companies simply for the chance to advertise in popular sports leagues and clubs. These advertisement deals have amounted to millions of dollars that aid in sponsoring football teams. 

With the rise in companies striving to reach their target market via advertisements, many television houses heavily outbid the competition to acquire broadcasting rights. This has greatly inspired growth in the industry, making the fourth estate a billion-dollar bonanza. 

The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic

As the Pandemic progresses worldwide, we are barely coming to terms with its impact. The Sports industry has not been spared either. The sporting calendar was significantly disrupted. With positive tests being confirmed among the players and staff, sports officials were in a chokehold across the world. 

They had to decide whether the leagues would continue and honor their existing broadcasting commitments or cancel the league, given the risk posed by Covid.  Governments held many discussions with league representatives and settled for the resumption of football though at empty stadiums. The players and staff also had to follow strict covid protocols. Despite the resumption of football, Covid had already taken a toll on the TV audience. Here is how it affected them.

Move To Mobile Apps

With no fans filling the stadiums when the various leagues resumed, many people argued that the allure of football was lost. The passion that was birthed by playing before thousands of fans, the tense atmosphere created for the players by both home and away fans was gone. 

Many people stopped watching football simply because the game lacked the gist. With no fans, the players had no incentive to play. Many fans resorted to taking to mobile apps for match highlights. 

The best betting apps UK offer avenues to watch highlights as well as wager on the games. Even with the computer-generated audience simulations played inside the empty stadium, many fans lost touch with their much-loved game. Football wasn’t football anymore. This greatly reduced the number of live games being watched by the audience.

Migration From Cord to Cordless

Covid caused many people to migrate from cable TV that owns the majority of the licenses to air live games to a cordless viewership that offers screen time at the user’s convenience. The shift was largely due to the changes in the work environment and people acclimatizing and shifting with it. 

Pre pandemic, people would go to work and after a long day, sit on their couches and enjoy the live view of their favourite leagues. Covid forced a change in habit due to the work from home policy. This effect led to more people watching television only when it fitted their schedule. 

The change in habit has greatly reduced the live tv audience. Many experts, however, predict that this shift in preference might be only temporary. The experts argue that an end or easing of the Pandemic would result in the loss of these acquired habits as life returns to normal.  

The Comfort of Fiction

People sought safe spaces and comfort in the middle of the lockdown caused by Covid. Some could only get this on streaming sites like Netflix, which is filled with fictious content. When the masses were confined, those who had previously dabbled on these sites found them essential.

Cable television that only showed reruns of sporting events due to the lack of live events paled in comparison to their counterparts. Lack of viewers brought losses to the companies that had bought viewing licenses for the calendar year, with some opting not to renew the licenses. 

The loss of TV licenses and the renegotiating of the already existing ones brought losses to several leagues. The losses were so bad that some teams in the various leagues had to offload some of the top club earners and offset the balances with the transfer fees.

Tv Rights and Revenue

Covid led to an increased number of suspended matches. League officials would make these decisions after announcing an outbreak of covid infection in a team. Unfortunately, with most staff and team players contracting the virus, the fixture could not be honoured. 

This postponement acts in good faith first by protecting members of the other team and giving the affected team a chance to play later. The restructuring greatly affects the league scheduling plans regarding TV viewership with some of the big games, those expected to have a high TV viewership rate, being pushed back and allotted unfriendly kickoff times, hence a lesser audience.

Sponsorship and commercial revenue account for up to 28% of total revenue in the premier league. The Pandemic caused seismic shocks because the premier league season was almost abandoned in the middle. 

The campaign, if left uncompleted, would have left the clubs and the league at large unable to fulfill their sponsorship agreements and commercial obligations, leaving them vulnerable to large debts. The successful restart of the campaign, however, saved the league’s face. Nonetheless, each club faces a struggle to grow revenue and maintain, if not attract more, sponsorships and commercial agreements. With fewer and fewer TV viewers watching the leagues, the longer reaction of commercial partners and sponsors remains uncertain.

Rebates were offered by leagues back to broadcasters. These were on contracts signed. The Premier League gave back 360 million Euros, The Bundesliga 200 million euros, and the UEFA and Europa league 575 million euros. This was after some clubs weren’t able to deliver on their commitments.

Final Thought

The footballing world is still feeling the effects of the Pandemic. The effects, especially financial impact, to the leagues and clubs have prompted unprecedented acts from different clubs to achieve sustainability. The effect has been much worse for the viewer who has had to contend with his habit’s interference, changing his viewing hours among much more.

Over time, maybe viewership numbers will return to the normalcy that leagues experienced in pre covid times.

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