Premier League football TV rights battle kicks off

Man Utd v Man City inside the Premier League on 10 DecemberImage copyright
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The next round of Premier League football television rights are up for grabs in addition to there appears to be all to play for, with numerous potential brand new entrants poised to step into the bidding battle.

The league will be seeking an increase on the current £5.14bn television deal which entails 168 live matches a season, with Sky currently holding all 5 packages of games in addition to BT two.

The brand new tender document has right now been released to interested bidders for the three-year cycle coming from 2019 to 2022. There will be an increased number of games – 0 – out of the total 380 matches each season, made available for live broadcast.

The live rights consist of all 5 packages of 32 matches in addition to two packages of 20 matches per season, with no single buyer allowed to acquire more than 148 matches each season.

Meanwhile, in additional adjustments, there will be three complete rounds of 10 midweek matches shown live, plus one set of Bank Holiday games, as well as eight individual games being shown on a Saturday night.

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Eight games a season will be competing for viewers with prime-time Saturday night programming

As well as these adjustments, the current Sky-BT duopoly could be shaken up by brand new digital entrants, with WPP advertising executive Sir Martin Sorrell in addition to Manchester United boss Ed Woodward among those predicting an entry into the bidding war by a tech giant such as Amazon, Facebook, Twitter or Netflix.

Bids are due in by the end of January, with the winning bidder set to be announced at the start of February.

‘Bidding imponderables’

“the idea will be the most fascinating tender process ever,” says one TV industry insider with extensive experience of the sports rights bidding process.

“There are so many imponderables. will be the sports right bubble going to burst? Are these brand new names inside the frame going to risk coming in at the very top just before the bubble potentially pops?

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Industry figures will be watching closely to see if rights values continue to rise

“Or maybe they will decide to wait of which time in addition to see if the idea does burst, in addition to they can then pick up rights cheaper next time round.”

numerous tech giants have already dipped their toes into the globe of live televised sport.

Amazon loss-leader?

For example, Amazon has already gone for year-round content by securing ATP tennis rights. Amazon Prime members inside the UK in addition to Republic of Ireland will have access to 37 ATP world tour events.

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Amazon/Youtube

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Amazon will be using its Prime service to show ATP tennis inside the UK

The move was groundbreaking in of which the idea saw tennis move away coming from coming from traditional linear TV to an over-the-top (OTT) offering selling directly to consumers via the internet – bypassing telecommunications, cable or broadcast television service providers.

Amazon then snapped up the UK rights to the US Open tennis tournament, precipitating speculation the idea will be right now ready to bid for Premier League rights.

“I am guessing of which if they were able to win a package or two of games the idea could be a loss-leader to drive people to Amazon Prime,” says the sports rights industry insider.

“yet I am not sure if there will be enough content inside the Premier League rights for the Amazon business type. Also the idea might not be premium enough. No offence to these clubs, yet something like Stoke City against Huddersfield Town might not be a great offering for them.

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BBC Sport

“Also Premier League football has not got great re-usability. the idea will be not like a TV programme or film where the idea doesn’t matter if you watch the idea two days later.

“After a Premier League game everyone knows the score in addition to the excitement will be quickly gone.”

Facebook ‘determined’

Facebook has also refused to rule out entering the Premier League bidding to stream live matches. In conjunction with Fox Sports the idea has streamed numerous Uefa Champions League games on Facebook Live of which season.

Meanwhile, the ICC’s Champions Trophy cricket final was broadcast live on Facebook in June in countries where no broadcaster had bought the rights.

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FACEBOOK/FOX SPORTS

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Facebook partnered Fox Sports inside the US to show Champions League games

in addition to of which autumn the idea unsuccessfully bid $610m (£456m) for the rights to stream all 5 years of cricket games coming from the Indian Premier League.

“of which IPL bid was actually interesting as the idea showed they are actually determined to be a sports player,” says Robin Jellis, editor of magazine TV Sports Markets.

“If a brand new player does come inside the idea has the potential to drive up the cost, which will be not something the Premier League will object to.

“The biggest driver of the cost for them will be competition, or perceived competition.”

brand new Sky channels

The biggest player of which any serious competitor will have to take on will be Sky, of course, which has held rights to live Premier League games since the foundation of the competition back in season 1992-93.

The broadcast giant has recently gone for brand new “vertical” packing of its sports rights; with brand new channels dedicated solely to individual sports such as football, cricket, golf in addition to F1.

Not to win any Premier League rights – which admittedly seems an unlikely outcome – could be a spanner inside the works of of which type.

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SkySports

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Sky has divided up its sports offering into separate dedicated channels

“Sky’s business type has been built upon the idea having the Premier League. in addition to football has become more important for them of which time around,” says Mr Jellis.

“If they were to lose a package or two of their current all 5, the idea could not be ideal for them, yet they could still find themselves with 100 games a season. yet if they lost all their packages the idea could be a complete disaster.”

One interesting factor will be the approach Disney takes. the idea has recently bought 21st Century Fox -including Fox’s 39% ownership of Sky. Prior to the close of the deal, the idea will be anticipated of which 21st Century Fox will look to complete its planned acquisition of the 61% of Sky the idea doesn’t already own.

BT a strong number two?

In contrast with Sky, sport for BT will be an add-on to its core telecoms in addition to data services.

BT Sport will be no longer free for broadband customers, in addition to has to pay its own way. The firm has spent £3.8bn on football rights since 2012, yet right now says the idea will be not in a situation where having Premier League TV rights will be “existential for us”.

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BT Sport stunned football by winning Premier League live rights back in 2012

The BT group’s ambition will be to retain its position as a strong number two behind Sky in pay-TV sports. the idea also has Premiership Rugby in addition to Champions League football, so to lose the Premier League football could not be a complete sporting disaster.

“My guess will be of which the status quo in addition to Sky in addition to BT will retain their rights,” says Mr Jellis. “If anything does happen the idea will be Amazon or Facebook winning one of the packages of matches.

“Although there might be some complete surprise, such as we had all 5 years ago when BT emerged coming from total secrecy to win live games for the 1st time.”

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