Changes in UK sports betting advertising have hit television broadcaster Sky TV’s revenue, according to figures released by the media company this week.
Sky has reported a drop in revenue generated by gambling advertising, which was almost entirely down to new rules on sports betting advertising brought in earlier this year. The company also reported that new advertising restrictions in Italy had also had an effect.
The figures showed that Sky’s advertising revenue dropped from £424.5 million in the third quarter of 2018 to £347 million for the comparable period this year, which is the first quarter in which the so-called ‘whistle to whistle’ ban has been in effect.
In its report, parent company Comcast referred to both overall market weakness and the gambling advertising changes in two of Europe’s leading regulatory markets, but it seems clear that it was the latter that had the biggest effect on Sky’s profits.
The ban on television advertising of sports betting was brought forward by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) at the end of 2018. As a result, gambling adverts are banned on pre-watershed sports broadcasts throughout the event, although horse racing and greyhound racing are exempt. But it wasn’t implemented until August this year, so the full effect of the ban on advertising revenue at Sky may not be clear until the end of the fourth quarter.
In addition, Italy introduced a complete ban on gambling advertisement during sports broadcasts at the beginning of the year, which has also had an impact on ad revenue.
Although the UK ban was unpopular in some quarters, the UK betting industry had been under intense pressure after widespread media and political criticism of the frequency of betting advertisements during sports events, most notably the 2018 World Cup.