Premier League television records could be beaten as many as four times this weekend as 16 sides return to action following the coronavirus pandemic.
After Sheffield United’s 0-0 draw at Aston Villa and Manchester City‘s defeat of Arsenal on Wednesday night, the remaining teams will face their first games after a three-month hiatus, with all the games until the end of the season to be televised across four platforms.
Manchester United’s trip to Tottenham on Friday night is set to challenge the record of four million viewers as two of the ‘big six’ sides clash at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
There is growing optimism that it could break the current record because Manchester United have featured in eight of the top 10 most-viewed live games on Sky Sports.
The game comes on the same evening as Norwich face Southampton, which is set to be free-to-air on Sky Sports and could also come close to the record.
Crystal Palace’s visit to Bournemouth will also represent a watershed moment for television coverage of the English top flight, with the match set to become the first ever live Premier League game to be shown on BBC One in Saturday’s late kick-off.
The game is therefore expected to draw huge numbers of viewers who have been deprived of Premier League action because of its affiliation with subscription broadcasters since its inception in 1992.
Sky Sports will then return on Sunday with two huge free-to-air clashes as Newcastle face Sheffield United before Liverpool take on Merseyside rivals Everton as Jurgen Klopp’s men close in on their first Premier League title in 30 years.
All these fixtures could also draw enormous viewing figures given that Manchester City’s defeat of Arsenal – which means Liverpool will have to wait a further week at least to lift the title – on Wednesday night came 12th in the list of the all-time Premier League games attracting the highest viewership.