Status Quo maintained in Premier League TV rights auction
The latest round of bidding for the English Premier League TV rights failed to produce a new player in broadcasting Premier League fixtures in the UK. Sky managed to secure four package of fixtures with BT picking up one. However, two live packages of fixtures are still to be sold.
Many financial analysts had predicted that a new player could enter the race to secure broadcast rights to show Premier League football to the UK market. Names such as Amazon, Facebook and Disney had been touted as having an interest in gaining rights to show English top-flight football, but in the end it was business as usual, as Sky won the rights to 128 games and BT 32.
Sky remains the home of football
It would be hard to imagine a world without Sky being the dominant force in Premier League football. Their association with the Premier League goes back to the start and they have been broadcasters of live top-flight football since the re-branding of Division One back in 1992.
Several factors, such as tendering rules (any broadcaster is limited to a total of 148 matches) and BT’s emergence as a real competitor have stopped Sky having a total stranglehold on the sport.
Sky’s UK Chief Executive, Stephen van Rooyen, said:
We continue to invest in content that our customers value and which complements our strategy to broaden our offer. Not only do we remain the home of Premier League football but also the home of top quality drama, entertainment, comedy and other sports. Our disciplined approach means we continue to have the flexibility to invest in each of these areas as we choose, underlining our position as Europe’s largest investor in content. – Stephen van Rooyen, Chief Executive of Sky UK.
BT holds on to the number two spot
There was speculation that BT may fail in their bid to continue to show Premier League football, with the chief executive of British Telecom stating that the communications giant had a Plan B if they were unsuccessful in the bidding.
Speaking before the latest round of bidding, the CEO of BT, Gavin Patterson reinforced that it wouldn’t be make or break for the company, saying:
We continue to see Premier League content as an important part of BT Sport, but it is only one part. It is one we like and it has performed well for us… We know what it is worth to us and we model that and we bid up to, and no further than the value of it. We always have a ‘Plan B’ if we don’t get what we want. I don’t want in any way to diminish the importance of the Premier League of course, and the Premier League’s importance to us. But it is one of a broad set of rights. We will be competitive but ultimately won’t go beyond the price it is worth to us. – Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT.
Much of this confidence would have been due to BT securing the exclusive rights of European football competitions. In March last year, BT announced that they had secured UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football until 2021.
Also, there seems to be a thawing of the war between the two broadcasters with a content sharing deal announced late last year. In the deal, BT could finally offer its customers Sky Sports, Sky Cinema and Sky Atlantic and Sky can now sell BT Sport directly to its own customers.
Hello Saturday night games
As part of the new packages bought, Sky will have first choice of every weekend match and will introduce Saturday night games (19:45), this is the first time this time slot has been auctioned. The cost to Sky will be £3.579bn. This works out at £9.3m per game and is actually less than the £10.8m they currently pay.
BT will pay more for the Saturday lunchtime game they will show. £295m per season equates to £9.22m, a substantial increase in the £7.6m that they currently pay.
Package F (20 matches from one Bank Holiday and one midweek fixture programme) and Package G (20 matches from two midweek fixture programmes) are still to be sold.
Sky could bid for 1 of them but not both, meanwhile BT have not commented on whether they are interested in the two remaining packages.