We sit down with Steve Smith, Executive Director of Content for Sky Sports at Sky, who tells us more about Sky Business, revealing what great content lies ahead in 2024.
Please introduce Sky Business to our readers.
Sky Business offers TV and connectivity solutions to commercial venues like bars across the UK and Ireland. Sport plays a central role in a great entertainment offering in bars, providing an opportunity to broaden appeal to a wide range of customers, encouraging them to visit for longer – arriving earlier for a night out, or staying later to watch the action unfold – and helping increase spend during that additional time they are in-venue.
For bars, Sky Business offers a premium sports line-up across 11 Sky Sports channels, covering everything from Premier League football matches and Formula One races to golf Majors, NFL and more. Additionally, we offer boxing events through Sky Sports Box Office and our broadcast partners to provide late evening, premium event-style content.
It has been a great year of sport in 2023, what has been your highlight that Sky has shown?
It’s been a fantastic year for sports on Sky and we’ve been breaking viewing records across a multitude of our sports, but it was a particularly thrilling summer of sport. The Men’s & Women’s Ashes broke records across all the formats even though England ultimately couldn’t regain either. England Women’s Test saw a rise of almost 400% in comparison with the 2019 Test, while the T20 series was up 135%. Then late in the summer we had the right results for Europe in both the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup where we retained and regained the respective trophies, again watched by record audiences on Sky Sports. The 23/24 football season has also started extremely strongly. For example, the opening weekend of the Championship became the most watched opening weekend on Sky Sports ever, with an average of 631,000 viewers (residential) across all four matches, up 77% compared to last season.
We had the Greatest Return in Tennis this year, can you tell us more about the tennis bars can show on Sky Sports?
The US Open returned to Sky Sports with record audiences and from our new state of the art studio. Combining huge screens with the latest in AR & VR technology, Sky Sports were able to put the best analysis tools in the hands of Tim Henman and Martina Navratilova bringing new insights to our growing audiences. Our additional studio position at Flushing Meadow also allowed our viewers to hear directly from the players making the headlines throughout the fortnight at the US Open. These new additions really help to enhance the viewing experience and create an amazing atmosphere for people to connect to their family and friends. 2024 will have even more tennis across our channels before the US Open returns in September.
Sky Sports offers such a breadth of sport, why should we be showing more NFL in bars?
The NFL is often described as the greatest show on turf and the superstars that take the field once a week from September through to the Super Bowl in early February put on a show in every game. Patrick Mahomes is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and he led the Kansas City Chiefs to the Super Bowl title last February in a match up against Jalen Hurt’s Philadelphia Eagles. The draft system that allows the weakest performing team in the NFL to have the first choice of the talent coming out of the US College system, means that each year the competition gets even more intense. Last season had a record number of games that were settled by less than a single score. The tension continues to keep fans on the edge of their seats! With the growing popularity of NFL in the UK your bar can make the most of matches following Premier League fixtures on the weekend, to help increase dwell time, but also take advantage of games that are played later into the evening. The Superbowl in February would be a perfect excuse to create an event to attract new customers!
Can you tell us what content you have coming up in 2024, and what bars should be most excited about?
2024 is going to be the year of more of the content our customers love. We know football is very popular, therefore a huge increase of over 800*more games in the EFL following a new rights agreement signed earlier this year is the perfect reason to get excited for 2024! Additionally, there will be more Tennis of which bars can take advantage of during the day and increase their breadth of sport offering rather than just evening games. Alongside another season of Premier League, a competitive WSL, the conclusion of the SPFL, Max Verstappen coming back to try and make it four F1 Driver’s Championship in a row, another summer filled with Men’s & Women’s England Cricket, international Rugby Union and all the golf Majors, you can guarantee another compelling year for hospitality and all our Sky Sports customers.
Make sure your bar makes the most of our array of content for 2024. Each sport has its own personality and its own fans, so make sure to immerse your venue into our breadth of sport offering to increase footfall all throughout the year.
*Some English Football League and Super League games only available via a connected Sky Q. Contact us for more details.
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