← Return to Blog

No spectators? No problem, as sport returns with a bang

It’s been almost exactly a month since we saw the return of the Premier League (PL). Other sports including golf, Formula One and cricket have all followed suit and resumed.

With no spectators present and an intense schedule of games lined up, how the return would be received by fans, viewers at home and broadcasters was eagerly anticipated. However, if anything can be taken from the initial viewing figures, it’s safe to say that sport has certainly been missed on our screens! Across all the live sport aired on Sky Sports so far since its return, viewing figures are up significantly vs. pre-Covid, with multiple football matches breaking viewing records.

Premier League

  • Manchester City vs. Arsenal (17th June – 8.15pm), which was the second game to air after the break, had a match average of 3,064,000 viewers (peak 3,416,000), making it the 4th biggest game of the season at the time.
  • The Sky Sports portfolio also saw its biggest daily share of commercial viewing for men 16-34 since the BARB panel changed in 2010.
  • Across all channels, Everton vs. Liverpool (21st June – 7pm) had a total match average of 4,961,000 individuals (peak 5,496,000), making it the biggest PL game ever and the 2nd highest Sky programme ever behind Game of Thrones (5.8m).


  • The PGA Tour returned to Sky Sports on the 11th June, with live coverage of day 1 of the Charles Schwab Challenge on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Golf.
  • Viewing peaked at 154,000, which is +175% higher than the day 1 peak of the equivalent event last year at the end of May. Day 1 of The Players Championship, widely regarded as the unofficial 5th ‘major’, was the last live PGA event broadcast on Sky Sports pre-lockdown, which peaked at 213,000.


  • With the final day of the First Test, and the continuation of the F1 and Premier League seasons, Sunday 12th July saw Sky Sports take its biggest ever daily share of commercial viewing for individuals, men and ABC1 men since the BARB panel changed in 2010 (it was also the second highest ever for 16-34s after PL restart day).

ARM viewpoint

This change in the market has allowed ARM clients unprecedented access to test this environment in order to drive measured short-term business performance. Over the 11 games our clients have accessed, we have seen that the combination of a change in audience and lower price point has made this a fruitful hunting ground for performance advertisers. Spots are driving visible increases in engaged site traffic and conversions.

We always knew live sport offered a unique opportunity to reach a mass, engaged audience and this will only further enhance its reputation and likely attract new advertisers looking to get in on the action. Furthermore, consistently stricter regulations for gambling advertisers will also ensure more inventory becomes available.

With no immediate return of fans expected, it is yet to be seen if these staggering viewing figures are temporary. Will we see viewers become impatient with crowdless grounds and fake fan noises pumped into stadiums?

Broadcasters recently announced that next season’s games will return to a more typical schedule, and crucially a much lower share of televised Premier League games. This meaning of course, that the opportunities to advertise will reduce, with content more likely limited to the more premium games which ultimately come with a higher price entry.

For more information on the digital services we offer click here.