Converting the Casuals – #MatchDayInsight

  • TV ratings are under pressure with short and long-term declines reported for Sky Sports and BT Sports for Premier League and Champions League matches
  • Crucial to protect commercial and matchday revenue streams
  • Premier League tracking at 96% average occupancy
  • EFL Championship tracking at 71% average occupancy
  • Boing Day bounce evident across Premier League and EFL Championship
  • Hull City 11% and Preston North End 33% the biggest PL and Championship beneficiaries
  • Appetite for Christmas football highlights the potential for clubs to achieve incremental ticket sales

As TV ratings drop, are clubs doing enough to convert occasional fans?

There have been a number of recent reports highlighting the decline in football’s TV ratings. Sky’s flagship Super Sunday shows a five-year decline with the average audience down 39 percent from 2011-12.

With future TV revenue potentially under threat, how are clubs responding and performing on one of their other key revenue streams, their match-day income?

With approximately two-thirds of the season run, the hectic Christmas and New Year period is behind us and the ‘business end’ of the season is in sight. The overarching attendance trends in the Premier League and Championship remain constant. The Premier League as a whole continues to track at approximately 96% stadium utilisation. Thirteen of the twenty Premier League clubs boast stadium occupancy rates of over 95%.

In the Championship the season average to date is 71.28% stadium utilisation, which is up 6% on last year’s season average of 65.46%. This figure is bolstered by the presence of well-supported clubs such as Newcastle Utd, Aston Villa and Norwich City.

These figures also reflect the importance of the bumper programme over the festive season. A review of the impact of the festive games from an attendance perspective reveals an almost universal Christmas bounce for those teams at home over the festive period.

In the rarefied air of the upper echelons of the Premier League, stadium utilisation is maintained in the high nineties across the season. Of the clubs in the Premier League with an average occupancy of under 95%, all four clubs that hosted home games experienced a Christmas bounce in attendance.

Burnley had a full house against Middlesbrough on Boxing Day. Sunderland saw 95.46% occupancy against Liverpool, Southampton were at 97.44% against Spurs on the 28th December and Hull City achieved 90.42% against Man City, up 11% on their average stadium utilisation.

The Christmas bounce was even more pronounced in the Championship. The machinations of the Championship schedule dictated that six clubs did not host a fixture over the Christmas break. Of those 18 clubs that hosted at least one festive fixture, 16 achieved attendances over and above their average.

The biggest bounce occurred at Deepdale as Preston hosted Leeds Utd on Boxing Day and achieved an uplift of 33% from an average occupancy of 56.23% to 90.82%. The following game against Sheffield Wednesday saw a more modest 7% uplift with the season average boosted to 59.43% by those two fixtures. Aston Villa saw a 23% uplift for the Boxing Day visit of Burton Albion whilst Blackburn rovers saw a 22% increase for the visit of Newcastle on Boxing Day.

Appetite for Christmas football highlights the potential for clubs to achieve incremental ticket sales. Are clubs doing enough with their marketing programmes to convert floating fans to more regular visitors? 

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