It's fair to say that when BT came out of the blue in order to win a big chunk of Premier League games in 2012, Sky were unprepared for what it would do to their business. So much of their flagship sport channel relied on the built in audience and consistent programming opportunities that blanket Premier League coverage gave them. Since then, and knowing that BT is now in the game, Sky have been working to significantly increase the amount of coverage that other sports get on their channel, but that's not all they've been doing.
A new agreement struck earlier in the year between Sky and the Football League not only saw the two renew their exclusive partnership, it promised more Football League games per season than ever before. Covering everything from the Championship down to League 2, there's an incredible number of games on each week. Under the new deal, Sky are to show 127 live games a season, but to cover those games they were going to need a little help. Enter Ian Holloway, who has inked a deal to become the latest pundit on Sky's roster.
Holloway joins Sky after a 35 year career in football, having started out as a midfielder at Bristol Rovers before moving to Wimbledon, Brentford, Torquay, QPR and two further stints at Bristol, racking up a total of 598 games and 49 goals for his clubs. He then became a manager, helping to achieve promotion with three clubs, including Blackpool and Crystal Palace. During his time, he also managed his beloved Bristol Rovers, Plymouth Argyle, Leicester City and Millwall. It was that last appointment which he most recently left, having failed to keep Millwall in the Championship having been hired to keep them from relegation during the previous season.
Now unattached to any club, he's free to pursue new career in punditry, as he joins up with Sky Sports in order to commentate on the Sky Bet Championship. It's a fantastic gig for Holloway, and his insight into football at this level will no doubt prove invaluable as we navigate the English second tier. Holloway joins Don Goodman, Peter Beagrie and Andy Hinchcliffe as Football League analysts alongside Simon Thomas.
Ian Holloway said: “I can’t wait to get started working as an analyst for Sky Sports. With 127 Football League matches this season exclusively live, there’s no better time for me to join the UK’s leading sports broadcaster. I love Sky Sports’ football coverage and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and insight with football fans up and down the country.”
Sky Sports Head of Football Gary Hughes said: “Ian Holloway is a fantastic new addition to our Football League line-up. Promotions, playoffs and relegations – he’s seen it all, and he’ll share his experiences, passion and analysis of the game with Sky Sports viewers throughout the season. Ian joins Sky Sports as we embark on a brand new broadcast partnership with the Football League comprising more matches than ever before from across the Championship, League One and League Two.”
The Football League season has already begun and Sky are reporting that customers on the Sky TV helpline are delighted with the coverage they're getting of The Football League and Sky are seeing strong viewer numbers, especially on games like Leeds vs. Burnley, which drew in Premier League levels of viewers. For Sky's part, they'll be delighted that they've landed such a capable voice in that of Ian Holloway, and hope that the season delivers everything it has done in the past.
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