Manchester United and Liverpool defeats helped Sky Sports to its highest ever viewership

Jack de Menezes
·2-min read
Manchester United's 6-1 defeat by Tottenham was watched by a Sky Sports record peak of 3.3m (Reuters)
Manchester United's 6-1 defeat by Tottenham was watched by a Sky Sports record peak of 3.3m (Reuters)

Manchester United’s humiliating 6-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool’s 7-2 embarrassment at Aston Villa helped Sky Sports record their highest ever viewing figures on Sunday.

The broadcaster confirmed that 14m viewers tuned in to their channels on Sunday, which featured a dramatic day of Premier League action in the form of the two shock results as well as the mid-afternoon kick-off as Arsenal defeated Sheffield United 2-1.

The three games provided an average audience of 933,000 throughout the coverage, who watched more than 95 minutes of action, with a peak of 3.3m coming just 25 minutes into the match at Old Trafford as United had Anthony Martial sent off shortly before going 3-1 down against Spurs.

The figures fall short of the most-watched match of the Premier League era, which came in July as 5.7m tuned in to Southampton’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City that was broadcast on the free-to-air BBC.

The figures were provided by Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (Barb), the UK’s leading data providers of television viewership, which is part-owned by six TV stations including Sky and Channel 4.

The successful afternoon of sports broadcasting also featured the octtish Premiership match between St Johnstone and Celtic, the Vitality Blast Finals day at Edgbaston and coverage of the Indian Premier League, as well as golf coverage across the European Tour, PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour.

They also benefited from their night-time offering, with NFL coverage shown alongside Joshua Buatsi’s fight against Marko Calic, as well as rolling transfer news across Sky Sports News.

However, two large factors will have influenced the viewing figures. The first was undoubtedly the incredible scenes witnessed at Old Trafford and Villa Park, where United equalled their worst defeat in the Premier League era and Liverpool suffered their heaviest loss in 57 years.

The second was the fact that Sky’s viewing numbers should have been impacted by the return of fans to sporting events at the weekend, only for the government to pull the plug after a rise in coronavirus numbers.

Pressure is growing on Oliver Dowden to get fans back to sporting eventsReuters
Pressure is growing on Oliver Dowden to get fans back to sporting eventsReuters

“These viewing numbers show the importance of sport to our viewers,” said Sky Sports Managing Director Rob Webster.

“At a time when the UK is spending more time at home, I’m delighted that our teams are able to showcase a choice of world-class sporting content from around the world.”

Pressure is growing on the government, and in particular the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden, to reverse their decision to scrap fan pilot events as clubs and sports face financial ruin.

The #LetFansIn campaign has launched a petition calling for the return of supporters to football matches in socially-distanced numbers, with more than 15,000 signatures gained in its first few days.

Read more

Manchester United will continue to waste time, money and transfer windows with the wrong men in charge

No pressure on the ball and no reaction, Liverpool betray who they are in humiliation to Aston Villa

Manchester United’s problems run too deep for any quick fix after shambolic Tottenham defeat