By 52% to 25%, football fans oppose the 3pm blackout rule
November 10th, 2023, Christien Pheby

By 52% to 25%, football fans oppose the 3pm blackout rule

Headlines from last month suggested that a number Premier League clubs were seeking to end football’s 3pm blackout – the longstanding rule that prevents broadcasters from showing matches that take place between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on a Saturday. The end of the blackout could potentially see all 380 top-flight games screened live in the UK from 2029.

Supporters of the blackout argue that it encourages matchday attendances in lower leagues, while critics believe it fosters piracy. But what do football fans think?

New YouGov polling can reveal that 52% oppose the 3pm blackout, with just a quarter saying they support it. But opinion among matchgoing fans (those who say they attend games at a stadium very or fairly frequently) is more divided: while 45% are against the blackout, 44% are in favour.

Nevertheless, 76% of matchgoing fans (and 72% of football fans in general) say they would be interested in watching matches with a Saturday 3pm kick-off on live television.

Has the 3pm blackout made football fans more likely to go to a stadium – or watch matches online? 

We also asked football fans how the 3pm blackout has affected their likeliness to attend a football match at a stadium. Most said it made no difference – but 14% said it had made them more likely to watch games in-person.

This rises to 17% of fans who view fixtures on TV, while matchgoing fans are nearly twice as likely to say that the blackout has made them more likely to watch football in person (26%).

As far as concerns about piracy go, a third (32%) of football fans say they are more likely to seek out ways to watch 3pm kick-offs online because of the blackout, rising to half (49%) of fans who regularly attend matches.

Recent YouGov data shows that 8.7% of Britons have watched an illegal sports stream in the past six months; among this group, 73% said they had watched pirated football. Asked why they watch sport illegally, 42% said they could not afford it on the legitimate platform, and 40% said what they wanted to watch was unavailable in the UK.

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YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on 7-8 November 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 2000 adults (aged 18+ years) in Great Britain, using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education, and social grade to be representative of all adults in Great Britain (18 years or older), and reflect the latest ONS population estimates. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.