For fans of clubs in the Football League, seeing your team play live on Sky Sports is a rare privilege. If you can’t make it to the ground, you’re likely to miss out on seeing anything more than brief highlights of the game.
Unlike the multitude of live games, in-depth highlight shows and rolling news coverage afforded to the Premier League, the 72 clubs in the lower divisions are usually treated to one or two live games per week.
With so much less exposure in comparison to the Premier League’s top teams, it’s easy to see how Football League fans can get frustrated with a lack of coverage. But which team’s supporters are most justified in their complaints? And who is afforded more airtime than anyone else?
We crunched the numbers and found that since the beginning of the 2009/2010 season, Leeds United and Leicester City have had more live Football League games (excluding play-off matches) broadcast on Sky Sports 1 or 2 than anyone else, with 35 matches each.
However, as they’ve spent five months away since winning promotion last season, it’s Leicester who have the highest average number of live games per season of any club who has spent three or more seasons in the Football League.
How many times has your team been on Sky Sports? Use our calculator below to find out.
After Leicester and Leeds, Sky Sports’ Football League producers’ favoured clubs include Nottingham Forest, Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday who have all had over 20 live games broadcast in the last five-and-a-half seasons.
During their brief sojourn in the Championship in the 2009/2010 season, Newcastle had a whopping 15 live league matches on Sky Sports - no other Football League club has been afforded as many in a single season since. West Ham were broadcast live on 10 occasions during their 2011/2012 promotion season.
Cameramen must surely be growing tired of the pies on offer at Leicester’s King Power Stadium, which has played host to more live Football League games than any other ground since August 2009. Leeds’ Elland Road is second with 15 live games, followed by Nottingham Forest’s the City Ground and Middlesbrough’s Riverside with 11 games each.
Leeds fans who don’t fancy expensive train fares and long days out to see their team play away have been treated well. The Yorkshire club had 20 away games broadcast live, more than any other club.
Fans of clubs not yet mentioned may be crying foul at this stage. Everyone likes to think of his or her club as “by far the greatest team the world has ever seen” that would be sure to draw in a big audience.
Yet Leeds’ dominance of the Sky Sports screens is understandable. Of clubs that have spent three or more seasons in the Football League in the period studied, fixtures featuring Leeds have the highest average audience of 477,000. Leicester’s 35 live games had an average audience of just 344,000 - only the 15th highest figure.
It should be noted that context is important to accurately measure these figures. Did Leeds’ games fall at more critical times in the season? Did they feature other high-profile opposition? Did they take place at peak broadcast times?
For example, only the most staunch Stevenage supporter could argue that their club was bigger than Charlton, Fulham or Portsmouth even though they have had a larger average TV audience since the beginning of the 2009/2010 season than all three.
Unlike the Premier League, the Football League distributes its £65m a year television deal with Sky evenly among every club.
For a full list of live games and audience figures on Sky Sports 1 and 2 since the beginning of the 2009/2010 season check out the table below. Data does not include play-off or Football League Trophy fixtures.