The departure of Serie A and La Liga from mainstream television this season left a Sunday night void for UK sports broadcasters, however Sky Sports may have an American Football shaped solution to this problem.
Last season, BT Sports concluded the weekend with a Sunday evening tie from Italy, whilst Sky Sports would compete with a game from Spain, often featuring either Real Madrid or Barcelona, however Eleven Sports’ entry to the UK broadcasting stage this season, meant that both them leagues were no longer available on mainstream television.
It’s left both Sky Sports and BT Sports with a conundrum on what to focus on Sunday evenings, and whilst BT has found a renewed focus in French football, Sky maybe able to capitalise on the continued growth of NFL amongst UK fans.
Furthermore, for betting operators thrusting NFL further into the mainstream can have clear benefits, given how enthusiastic UK fans are about America’s most adored sport, as well as how much Sunday evening NFL lends itself to betting.
Stephen Baumohl, co-founder of Redzonesports.bet, commented on how Sky Sports scheduling changes can help accelerate the constant rise in popularity of NFL amongst a UK audience: “No question. NFL interest and viewing figures have been on an upward curve for several years now and the sport had already overtaken La Liga games on Sky’s Sunday nights ratings charts, so this reduced choice is a golden opportunity to win more fans for American football.
“With the price of live sports broadcast rights driven up in the Sky/BT bidding wars, and now the entry of tech behemoths like Amazon in to the sports broadcasting arena, it seems inevitable that both Sky and BT will need to pick their battles more carefully. NFL, as a still relatively underexposed sport, appears to be a good choice for Sky to bet on and convert some of those viewers that might now get a chance to see something new and exciting and I have no doubt that was part of their plans when they offered less than £18 million for the La Liga rights (the amount they had paid previously paid).
“While fans of Italian and Spanish football may have been somewhat abandoned for now, this can only be good news for NFL viewing figures which in turn must be good news for the future of the sport as a whole in the UK.”
Analysing the impact this could have on the sport’s betting interest in the UK, he added: “NFL is a sport that lends itself perfectly to betting and that tends to mean viewers convert more easily than with other sports. The stop/start nature of the game, which can infuriate the non-believers, is ideal for in-play betting and makes every moment of the game potentially huge.
“It is also a sport that changes throughout with different tactics being used depending on score lines and so there is always a new dimension to the game to bet on and, as with all American sports, there is a huge amount of stats and analysis available to help form betting views. In my experience, as people begin to understand the game better they tend to become particularly opinionated and quite often prepared to back that up with a bet and so it all adds up to gambling on NFL following a similar upwards trajectory to the viewing figures.”