Which Old Firm club drives television ratings the most?

courtesy of Rob Casey

written by – Rangers Report

Recently Graham Ruthven asked the question that many have been asking ever since 2012, does Scottish football need Rangers in the top flight?  Ruthven’s article for Vice Sports examined the impact of Rangers absence by looking at the decreasing attendance of Premiership clubs & its financial impact on top flight teams – especially Celtic.  He also highlighted the anti-climatic nature on a league that basically has gone from an oligarchy to a dictatorship of the league tables.  Supposedly, Rangers absence has given clubs like Aberdeen & Inverness Caley Thistle a chance to ‘compete’ for the title – if you want to call finishing 17 points & 27 points out of first place ‘competing.’

The biggest impact Ruthven detailed is the loss in television revenue.  He wrote,

The Old Firm derby is the only football fixture Scotland has that transcends its own borders. The recent emergence of Aberdeen as faux title challengers has given an extra edge to their clashes against Celtic, but that fixture pales in comparison with the match that still, even after all these years, has a bearing on an entire country and its culture like no other.

The loss of this fixture was surely a factor in the collapse of a five-year £80 million TV deal that had been agreed with BSkyB and ESPN before Rangers’ own collapse. Now, the Scottish Professional Football League is contractually bound to actually pay BT Sport up to £250,000 per season in return for the live broadcast of Rangers’ lower league fixtures. Somewhat ominously, the true value of the replacement TV deal hastily agreed in light of the Ibrox club’s demise has never been disclosed; the precise damage is left to conjecture.

Television ratings drive the business of football, especially internationally.  An example, is the coverage of Scottish football in the United States.  In March 2012, FOX secured the rights to broadcast Scottish matches.  Their first broadcast, four days after the deal, was a Rangers v Dundee United game.  Obviously, the demand for Rangers was on the rise among American soccer fans given that Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu, & Alejandro Bedoya were all on the team.

Since 2013, Scottish league games have been banished to FOX’s subscription based network, FOX Soccer Plus,  which charges viewers $15 a month.  They have only broadcast one match featuring two Scottish teams on their main soccer network  since then…last season’s Old Firm game.

Does the American soccer market matter?  If Scottish football got even 1% of the NBC deal to broadcast the English Premier League, it would be worth  $2,500,000.

courtesy of Russell Cheyne (Reuters)

Domestically, last season’s television ratings reiterated the fact that Rangers are indeed the biggest variable in driving viewership.

First, let’s look at the top Scottish clubs & their average television ratings for the 2014-15 season.  For Rangers & Celtic, I did not include the Old Firm match in order to not skew  their average draws.  Also, I separated Celtic’s European games & Rangers play-off games given the added attention those matches would receive.  The other clubs’ numbers are for matches that did not include either Celtic or Rangers.

Note:  all of the following data was collected by Richard Wilson for his blog, The Football Life.

image (1)

The first thing you may notice, besides Rangers outdrawing Celtic, is that Hibs & Hearts averaged more viewers then Celtic in domestic matches.  However, the two only combined for nine matches, that didn’t include an Old Firm team, compared to Celtic’s 25 non-Old Firm & non-European matches.  So, those are more isolated outliers then anything else.

When you compare the domestic matches of the Old Firm teams, on average 26% more viewers tuned into watch Rangers then Celtic.


Now, let’s examine the impact that the Glasgow rivals had on the viewership of the other top Scottish teams.

image (1)

Team % increase v Old Firm
Aberdeen 120%
Dundee United 141%
Hearts v Celtic 66%
Hearts v Rangers 54%
Hibs 33%
St Mirren 85%

The impact on TV viewership when Old Firm teams are involved is a prime indicator that the Premiership misses having both clubs in the top flight.  Audiences for the New Firm are embarrassingly low unless they are facing Celtic.

For those of you that noticed that Celtic’s impact on Hearts viewership was greater than Rangers, it should be noted that if you subtract the final showdown between Hearts & Rangers – when the league was already won – the audience actually averaged an increase of 72%.  When the matches mattered, more people watched…which could also explain why Celtic’s average ratings lagged behind Rangers.  How many Premiership matches truly have an impact on Celtic’s ultimate fate in the title race?

Ultimately, more people tune into watch the average Rangers match, then they do to watch a Celtic match.

Lee Wallace, courtesy of PA

Lastly, the pinnacle of the television season for Scottish football was February’s Old Firm match.  The viewership was 749,000, which was 50% higher then the second most watched match (Celtic v Maribor) & 129% more then the most watched domestic game (October’s Rangers match against Hearts).  According to the Daily Recordthe game was broadcast to 54 nations.

In all of the Scottish football matches last season, there was a total of 11.3 million viewers…14% of which came from one game.

So, does Scottish football need Rangers in the top flight?  The data suggest that the answer is beyond obvious.

You can follow Rangers Report on Twitter @TheGersReport

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58 thoughts on “Which Old Firm club drives television ratings the most?

    1. How’s things at Bheast FC, still stealing land and fiddling the Lennoxtown Initiative Charity, oops I forgot Bheast FC had every penny off them.

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      1. Davie Cooper was well known for going to parties with Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris , says it all really . We’ve all heard the rumours .

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        1. Absolutely disgusting comment about davie cooper!if i was davie coopers family id have your ass through the courts!the truth is out there regarding septic and there disgusting history, to even try and suggest cooper was involved in the peado domes coaches/staff disgusting behaviour with kids is shocking!

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  1. Laughable, pointless article

    Can’t believe this drivel showed up on Celtic Newsnow page. and the Old Firm? it’s dead, long gone pal. as well you know.

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  2. No surprise considering the demographic in Scotland, talk about stating the obvious. What will drive a larger TV deal will not be impacted greatly by the viewing figures from within Scotland, but viewing figures outside our border will, on that issue I’d suggest that Celtic has more International appeal.

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    1. Based on what ??,because last i knew and what has been proven in the past is that usa is full of rsc!,not just new york!!,
      Now we can start going around the world but ill let you start!

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        1. rangers football club exists !! As much as the septic fans hate it!!,,we are here now always and forever!!,your pathetic name calling stupid asa complaints ,uefa complaints ,,,and anyone else who accepts complaints will all comfirm to you !! Rangers football club are very much alive !! And there history is proud,wholesome and absolutely just and upright!! Unlike your disgusting rhancid horrible clubs history of which you all gloss over when you sing “if you know your history”,,,,,i wonder why that is?

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          1. And was it not you lot that put in the complaint about the extremely lucrative land deal we did in the East End to the European Commission. Not our fault noone knew their is a rich mineral seam underneath. Also not our fault that we are considerably better and considerably richer than you.

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      1. But its alright that the Rangers tribute act are spending another year in the Championship because do you know what? More people are watching their games on the television so get it right up you Timothy. lol.

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    2. Doubt it bhoy, through my work I travel all over the world and to be honest many people I speak to in different countries think you are an Irish club!
      I cannot imagine why!

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  3. Any good statistician will tell you that you have to be mindful of third factors. You went a bit of the way by stating the impact of meaningless games. Related to this but missing and very important is the fact that us Cetlic fans tuned in the world over for our commedy fix every time Rangers were on the box. It was hillariously, not to be missed, stuff – from Ally’s wee greetin face to big Jigs 360 degree turns in slow motion and that is all before the wee ginger headline act came along to round off the entertainment. I have never watched so much of another team as I did Rangers last season. Great stuff altogether but defnitely likely to have badly skewed viewing figures.

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  4. Who owns breeze block city bhoys? Who owns the training ground bhoys? Who owns the kitchen sinks bhoys?….hhhhmmmmmmmmmmm…..wrong ……the co-op!!………how can this be when your so “cash rich” …..ooohhh my sides!!

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  5. thing is most fans outwith glasgow[afc] love watching the sevco train wreck ,hence they get big numbers.here’s hoping we have equally entertaining season ahead as sevco are left scrambling in the dirt yet again.

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  6. I haven’t watched a comedy like the Sevco campaign last season and the 2 part finale vs Motherwell is up there challenging the finale of the great Only Fools and Horses. I am struggling to choose my favourite and I must thank the great Rangers FC tribute act for these memories that will live with me until the day I die.

    Someone just has to say the infamous name “Cammy Bell” and I can’t stop.

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    1. Glad we cheered you up after the pain you had to endure in europe when septic were humped out of it how many times ??? Lost count!! Remind me!!lmfao!!!?……………….im looking forward to this months humilation for the east end tramps again,!,,and then we will see the fire sale to pay the co-op back there loan charges lmfao!!

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      1. Co-op is a cheap loan that is being paid back over an agreed term and while obviously better not to be paying back anything is a lot less of a liability than any one of a number of agreements you lot are tied up in. In addition the money has not disappeared into thin air as Celtic have made some shrewd investments. Why do you think some of your more ‘high profile’ fans were raising such objection to said loan and said investments? FYI Celtic budget annually for Europa League group stage. Less is costly, more is bonus bonanza.

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        1. Think you better keep john collins in the loop regarding the fire sale!!
          Thought i saw him saw if no champs league dick goes!! Hhmmm…..surely not another denial from facts!!
          And regarding the co-op there is a rolling overdraft of 12 million which is fully drawn every season over and above the big loan ,so yet more denial from a deluded timmothy,the debt septic are burdened with is in excess of 30 millions hence all the new rewritten guarantees on every asset septic own or should i say did own!!
          And septic do need champs league monies just to even get near breaking even,even with this money the o/d is still fully drawn down every year…fact!!

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          1. Like I said the assets your mob are complaining about more than take care of said liability. And remember your mob are the ones who are also getting all upset about said loan.

            Van Dijk will be off but not until our European fate is learned and regardless of what that fate is. Not necessarily because we are happy to lose him but because he has his heart set on EPL and his value will drop after this window. Such is the reality of football that every player has a price.

            Your entire squad would not fetch what Van Dijk would fetch. This is the reality of the financial gulf in the two teams.

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          2. Bet your lot would love to be allowed an overdraft facility but first things first I suppose i.e. another loan from Mike, audited accounts and going concern status 😉

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  7. Why can’t Rangers or Celtic fans be objective?

    The figures presented need greater examination and explanation. They cannot be taken at face value. Things that obviously need to be stated are;

    1. Are they for Scotland, UK or Worldwide
    2. The fact a lot of viewers will not be Rangers fans but those interested in (or enjoying) seeing them struggle against lower league opposition
    3. The amount of Rangers fans not attending Ibrox and watching on TV.
    4. Would Rangers back in the Top Flight, really have that drastic an affect on revenues. I can’t recall the amounts offered to our teams when they were, being anything special, so fail to see how all of sudden Rangers being back, would suddenly make the Scottish League highly attractive or lead to £500,000,000 TV deals. It would still be a pittance.
    5. Your obvious and sad desire to print a “Look at how great and needed Rangers are” piece. Objectivity is a great thing, that most Rangers fans (or any set of fans) writing a piece about Rangers (or their own team), sadly seem to be conspicuously devoid of.

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    1. Excellent comment demonstrating the sort of considerations that should be applied when looking at a set of numbers. People would be surprised at how often main stream journalists make this mistake so easy to understand how a blogger with a crusade would arrive at article conclusions.

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    2. Your on a rangers page you muppet!! Thats what you get on rangers sites!!doh!!now off you trot to your east end hovel!!

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      1. Excellent response, well thought out, informative and intelligent. Rather than answer my considerations, you’re straight in with the idiotic responses.

        You don’t think I know I am on a Rangers page! It would just be nice to read a Rangers (or any teams) site where the contributors weren’t dyed in the wool and wearing tinted glasses. I’d rather read Rangers fans posting honest, rational and objective opinions that de-construct and properly analyse things, as oppose to this “look at us, whoopee doo, were great” rubbish, that doesn’t even explain the figures in any great deal and provide needed caveats.

        Bizarre, I never knew Hearts supporting me, was from a hovel in the East End of Edinburgh.

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      2. Sites have a particular duty to their own fans. You yourself I am sure would admit that if you were better informed that the approach to the last lot of years would have been different.

        One of the biggest contributors to getting yourselves humped by a number of con men was the fact that you followed along blindley every tmie Ally or others gave you a sound bite rather than being better informed by those who would not have had to look too hard to find the clues and had the channels to feed this information to you.

        The other contributor was the fact that Celtic fans were telling you so in your mind it had to be lies.

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    3. Bill

      1. The numbers are for Scotland
      2. I never claimed that all viewers were Rangers fans & yes, I’m sure the shambles that was last season probably was hugely entertaining to non-Rangers supporters….it also can be assumed that many Rangers supporters were tuning out at times because it was quite painful to watch at times.
      3. Last season, Celtic’s attendance was down 5% & on average the stadium was at 73% capacity. Rangers attendance was down 23% & at 64% capacity. Clubs throughout Scotland need to do a better job of bringing supporters back to the stadiums. However, most expect Rangers attendance to bounce back this year.
      4. There is ZERO interest internationally in Scottish football right now. Yes, people were reminded that Scottish football existed when Celtic beat Barcelona but that didn’t translate into interest in the league. In 2015, the only way there will be foreign interest will come from Old Firm matches….Rangers & Celtic need each other.

      Now, some Celtic fans, who obsess about the existence of Rangers, can spout off until they are blue in the face 😉 — & shout from the rooftops that the Old Firm no longer exists — it really doesn’t matter because every football institution that matters recognizes Rangers as who they are & who they have always been. (Bill, that was not aimed at you but to the other commenters on this & other forums).

      The bottom line is that 14% of all TV viewership came from one game last season. The objective conclusion is that having a minimum of four Old Firm matches would generate increased interest from international markets to show the games which would lead to more income. When the SPFL goes to negotiate any television contract they need to bring numbers of viewers to the table & more Old Firm games equals more leverage for the league.

      5. I don’t think this was a “Look at how great & needed Rangers are” piece. It was a follow-up to the Vice article with statistical data. On average, more people watched Rangers games then Celtic games last year. Yes, they weren’t all Rangers fans & it really doesn’t matter. Rangers drove TV ratings more than Celtic did & only when the two play each other does the Scottish game get any interest at all internationally.

      Bill – I appreciate your reply because it was rooted in a desire to deal with facts rather then subjective opinions (or the name calling that tends to happen whenever Rangers & Celtic supporters get on a forum like this). I do thank you for that, but I think that you would have to agree that having Rangers & Celtic in the same division will generate more TV ratings & ultimately more income for Scottish football

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      1. Even if tv money was doubled it will be a relative pittance. Celtic have made more profit since Rangers died than they did in the same duration beforehand so dont ask me to want you back for financial reasons.

        I like how you single Bill out for praise but discount what Celtic fans say. This head in the sand aproach got you where you are today.

        By the way dont be surprised if your lot borrow more money from Mike. By biggest worry is that he takes control of you because that is the one chance you have of spending big in the foreseable.

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  8. What an utterly pathetic piece of self important, “we are ra peepil”, utter p#sh!

    I watched many Sevco games last season on TV purely to laugh hysterically at how far the cheats have fallen. Have never enjoyed football as much, my sides are still in recovery ha ha ha ha!

    Same club my ar#e, you are the only deluded ones who actually believe that utter total shi#e about a holding company. Gullible, desperate peepil!

    Your club and your “holding company vehicle” (ahemm!) are a complete laughing stock and your fans still complete bigots obsessed with another team from Glasgow and paedophilia for some sick sad reason as the comments on here and just about everywhere Sevco fans get together prove!

    Tellîng a lie often enough does NOT make it true!

    Get over it, your team died and the tribute act are mince. Every other Scottish football fan knows it no matter what your media puppets try to portray. We know it and we know you know we know it. And we’ll never ever ever let you forget it!

    Keep trying but you are the only ones who believe this drivel about how important you really are.

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    1. We remind your horrible club of there disgusting history not to score points but just maybe ,,,,,just maybe ! One day septic and its mhob will admit there history and stop trying to airbrush it!!
      I would take a million admins if it stopped one child being abused,but maybe i grew up with different beliefs!,of not protecting the guilty!!

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      1. Yes “their” history is nothing to be proud of but what about yours FFS! Around 1000 fans who have attended Ibrox over the years, have been killed or injured, the majority being yours. You Rangers fans are always very, very quick to malign Celtic by bringing up Torbertt, BJK, Brazil etc but not so quick (do you even do it at all) to condemn and castigate your own club for it’s continued negligence towards it’s very own, guys like you, their fans! Stadium disasters and incidents in 1902, 1961, 1963, 1967, 1969 & 1971, were all warnings that your “caring” board failed to adequately address and as such resulted in unnecessary and avoidable consequences and still you can see no wrong against your club!

        I guess most of us just grew up with different beliefs, to your average Rangers fan….thankfully.

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        1. As i said before mr “hearts” hhhmmmm!!, you are on a rangers page now off you trot!!
          So you condone septic not admitting there history? Or there fans absolute denial of the truth?,about how they employed a convicted peado!?,how there staff hid the facts and bought off parents!!
          Now dont come back with a stupid rangers killed 1000s !!!lmao
          Quite a weak response even for a “hearts” fan

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          1. You don’t seem capable of holding an objective discussion when it comes to your team, do you. Where did I say I condoned Celtics history, it is sickening and wrong whatever they look at it and don’t get me started on the Catholic Church but you seem equally as incapable of addressing and admitting your history, as they do theirs.

            This is the problem with you lot and them, it’s always about the other. “Look at what they done” while turning a blind eye or defending your own sordid history or failing to even see anything wrong with it. They covered up paedophilia and you contributed to the death and injury of nearly a thousand of your own fans through inexcusable negligence, neither of you are in any position to get on your high horse about the other, you both have the ability to come across as disgusting, biased, blindly loyal and ignorant.

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            1. We can back our story up regarding there disgusting history with facts !!
              Now you back up your story regarding rangers killing 1000s!hmmmmm

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