Jamie Carragher has earned himself a reputation as a terrific pundit for calling everything as it is: the latest being his cutting analysis of Liverpool's travails following their miserable defeat to Hull City yesterday.
This suits Sky Sports and it is why they employ him: any show with Carragher on it is most certainly worth watching.
Carragher has continued to stick to that mantra at half-time of the Leicester/Man United match, but this time, his Sky bosses may not appreciate it as much, United led 2-0 at the break, following a late flurry of goals just before half-time. Prior to that, however, it was pretty turgid stuff, as Carragher eluded to. Sky are happy to criticise footballers to a point, but are rarely willing to say anything that might puncture the hype and negatively affect the brand. Hence why you will often hear Eamon Dunphy decry the failure of British pundits to fairly and honestly, and why Didi Hamann's branding the league a "fraud" is considered revolutionary analysis.
This, from Carragher, would seem to go against that mission statement:
Jamie Carragher Sky Sports Viewing Figures
Despite splashing out more than £5 billion for the rights to the Premier League over the next three seasons - it costs them about £1 million to screen each game - Sky's viewing figures for the Premier League games have been steadily declining. It became relatively big news earlier in the season, as the Daily Mail splashed the decline in figures across their newspaper: figures had dropped by 19% over the first two months of the season.
Sky responded with relative calm, citing the "illegal streaming of matches, a hot summer, and the rival attraction of the Olympics" as reasons behind the decline, confident that the passing of the latter two would lead to an increase in ratings.
Second Captains' Ken Early, however, has pointed to a longer-term trend that is not too great for Sky:
first graph: UK TV ratings for premier league top 6 falling since 2012. second graph: 2012 was the year UK smartphone penetration passed 50% pic.twitter.com/5PvCic1eZ6
— Ken Early (@kenearlys) January 17, 2017
A deeper exploration of the decline in viewing figures, and what they will ultimately lead to, can be read here.