Sky is the true home of Sport: Nick Herm, Chief Business Officer, Sky

Speaking at the FT Business of Football Summit 2024

Monday 4 March 2024
Last week, I spoke at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit. It was a fantastic discussion with industry peers and here I share my thoughts from the event and what the future might hold for us.

At Sky, sport isn't just a passion; it's part of our DNA. We understand the evolving landscape of sports broadcasting and we want to provide unparalleled experiences for sports fans who watch with us on Sky. Last year was Sky Sports’ most successful ever, with viewing up 17% year on year, this is down to an incredible line up of sport, and some world-leading innovations from our teams. Our goal is to be the most entertaining, innovative, and accessible sports brand in Europe. So, as we navigate the developments in sports rights and broadcasting, we are clear on the key factors that help to shape our success.

Understanding what fans want

We know that the boosts in viewing of Sky Sports is primarily being driven by under 35s and female viewers. We have always loved bringing great sport to new audiences, so at Sky we believe in the power of catering to fans everywhere through our sport content. The younger age group of fans has been a key target for Sky as part of our ‘expansive fandom’ approach and ensures both our partners – such as the Premier League – and Sky Sports, continue to appeal to even more fans. It’s important for sport as a business that we make sure it’s available and engaging for everyone. 

Our research shows that customers look for two things in their viewing choices: value and variety. When we watch sport, most of us want to see the events unfold live, feeling like we are there, and we also want the most compelling and exciting stories. That’s something Sky Sports has always aimed to offer, a differentiated line up of sports rights, coupled with the best visual storytelling for fans. 

It’s crucial that we continue to create new innovations that bring viewers to the heart of the action, closer to players and athletes than ever before. Anyone who watches Sky Sports will know that our new innovative studio has transformed our football coverage, allowing our team to quickly bring a new level of analysis, detail, and access to games throughout the week. The studio gives everyone a pitch side seat.

Strength in variety

Key to our strategy is variety, but in a way that’s straightforward for audiences to access. We have the best content through our fantastic partnerships with sports rights holders, proven by the fact we’ve got a significant number of sports that UK fans crave, until the end of the decade. Fans will often have a burning passion for one or two sports, but with us they get to tune into those and access another world of brilliant sport they also want to follow. That’s why we prioritise maintaining a strong portfolio whilst anchoring our offering around key rights, like the Premier League. 

That strategy is demonstrating success, last season saw record-high Premier League viewing on Sky, with forecasts indicating another record-breaking season this year. But the record figures didn’t stop there, we saw our portfolio perform incredibly well with the highest number of viewers ever for the Men’s and Women’s Ashes, The Women’s Hundred, The Solheim Cup and The Ryder Cup and just look at the magic of Luke Littler at the World Darts Championship, millions of people who had never watched darts before tuned in. This is a true demonstration of the desire for fans to access a range of world class live sport. Bundling sport in this way offers consumers convenience and value, allowing them to access multiple breathtaking live events in one place. That benefits both consumers and rights holders, a win-win scenario.

The partner of choice to rights holders 

The strength of a portfolio is ultimately determined by the strength of relationships with rights holders. The landmark deal secured with the Premier League late last year means that Sky Sports remains the undisputed home for sport fans. We also have rights secured with the ECB, the ICC, the EFL, the FIA and the ATP until the end of the decade, meaning we are a fantastic long-term partner to sport in the UK and around the world. 

Strong partnerships ensure that rights holders can grow their sport, building brands and attracting more fans. This collaboration is critical in building demand for sport and creating a sustainable commercial model.

It’s also worth us reflecting that when rights holders have a financially sound partner, we can work together to address challenges like piracy which threatens the sustainability of broadcasting sport. 

This year, we’re more determined than ever to be the most entertaining, innovative, and accessible sports brand in Europe. By staying attuned to viewer preferences and creating strong partnerships with rights holders, we’ll continue to deliver world class experiences for fans.