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Sky ratings buoyed by Premier League return, Amazon to stream matches on Twitch

UK pay-television broadcaster Sky attracted a peak audience of 3.4 million viewers last night for live coverage of Manchester City’s 3-0 win over Arsenal as England’s Premier League returned to action after the shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The audience is a 94-per-cent increase on the broadcaster’s season average for Premier League matches, according to figures released today (Thursday) by Sky Sports.

The match at the Etihad Stadium kicked off at 8.15pm (BST) and averaged 3.1 million viewers. The peak figure came close to matching the 3.6 million viewers for October’s clash between Manchester United and Liverpool, Sky’s highest ratings in seven years for a Premier League fixture.

It was reported that 75 per cent of those watching last night’s match chose to do so with the artificial crowd noise option available on the Sky Sports Main Event channel.

The 6pm match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United registered a peak audience of 2.7 million viewers (and an average of 2.3 million).

Meanwhile, technology giant Amazon has announced that its free-to-view Premier League coverage will also be broadcast on Twitch, the streaming platform chiefly associated with esports coverage.

Amazon, which bought Twitch just under six years ago for $970m (€864m), is showing four extra live Premier League matches across the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign and viewers do not need to be subscribers to its Prime Video service to watch.

The matches will be available to watch free of charge on the Twitch platform.

It was announced today that Amazon will broadcast the Crystal Palace v Burnley match on June 29, followed by Everton v Southampton on July 9 and Watford v Newcastle United on July 11. The fourth match is still to be announced.

Amazon exclusively showed two match weeks earlier in the season as part of its existing Premier League deal.

Amazon’s decision to show its allocation of matches free-to-air took the number of such matches to 33. In addition to Amazon and UK public service broadcaster BBC’s four free-to-air matches, Sky will show 25 of its matches on its free-to-air digital terrestrial channel PickTV.

Earlier this year, Twitch secured rights to broadcast matches from the National Women’s Soccer League in its domestic US market and was also named the NWSL’s exclusive international media rights-holder in a three-year deal.