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Rangers v Celtic SPFL Derby set new viewership record

The one of oldest rivalry lived up to all hype and expectations in last clash

The most recent Old Firm derby between Glasgow rivals, Rangers and Celtic, set a new Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) era record with more than 1.4 million viewers tuning in on Sky Sports. This figure marks the highest audience for an SPFL match since the merger of the Scottish Premier League (SPL) and Scottish Football League (SFL) in 2013.

The thrilling 3-3 draw at Ibrox Stadium attracted the largest audience in five years, surpassing the previous record set by Rangers’ 2-1 win over Celtic in 2019. The record figure also includes streaming viewers on Now TV.

Rangers v Celtic is considered as the biggest fixture in Scottish soccer, drawing attention not only domestically but also internationally. The recent surge in viewership comes amid one of the most exciting Scottish Premiership title races seen in recent years.

SPFL broadcasting scene changed drastically after merger

The ratings are a milestone for the SPFL era which began with SPL and SFL's merger back in 2013. During this period from 2002 to 2004, SPL matches were shown free-to-air (FTA) on BBC and Old Firm matches were broadcast across UK - a factor that may make it challenging to break this overall record anytime soon.

Neil Doncaster, SPFL group chief executive, said:

“These figures demonstrate both the huge interest in this renowned fixture, as well as the increased appeal of our game across Scotland, the UK and beyond. The game itself certainly didn’t disappoint, and was hugely exciting for all supporters who tuned in.

“It promises to be a really dramatic end to the season, with even more big games to watch live on Sky Sports in the coming weeks, and I know the SPFL will continue to deliver the drama and excitement that our league is renowned for.”

Sky Sports became exclusive UK broadcaster for SPFL games starting from 2020 after previously sharing rights with BT Sport. As their current deal expires at end of this season, they will be entering into a new contract worth £150 million ($162 million), covering sixty games per season until year-end of 2029.

Scottish football hold big place in audience

This historic viewership number signifies not only an increased interest towards Scotland's premier football rivalry but also highlights how sports broadcasting has evolved over time to reach larger audiences. With the new contract coming into effect, fans can look forward to more exciting matches and coverage from Sky Sports.

Gary Hughes, Sky Sports director of football, said:

“It’s great to see the excitement of the title race translate into a record audience for us at Sky Sports,”

“It was a dramatic game and underlines the quality of the product on the pitch, which we are committed to continue growing alongside our partners at the SPFL.”

The record-breaking viewership of the Old Firm derby is a testament to the growing popularity of Scottish football both at home and abroad. As we move forward in this SPFL era, it will be interesting to see how these numbers continue to grow and shape the future of sports broadcasting.

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