The removal of Sky’s flagship channels from the Virgin Media service has resulted in a collapse in audience figures with Sunday’s episode of 24 attracting just 354,000 viewers, 175,000 fewer than last week’s 529,000.
The current series of Lost was also affected, dropping 96,000 viewers from the previous week. Audiences were already well below the average 1.4m viewers the series attracted last November when Sky poached it from Channel 4 where the second series averaged almost 3m viewers.
In recent weeks both series have routinely fallen behind other broadcaster’s offerings including E4’s daily previews of Hollyoaks and teen drama Skins which drew more than 900,000 on Sunday.
Analysts have predicted Sky will suffer a £60 million drop in advertising revenues following the removal of the channels.