Sky and BT Sport have agreed to pay £4.464 billion (€5bn) for Premier League games for three seasons from 2019-20. Five of seven live packages have been awarded, with bidding for the remaining two ongoing. Interest from “multiple bidders” remains, the Premier League said – there had been speculation FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) companies could have entered the bidding process. BT Sport has won the rights to broadcast 32 matches per season on Saturdays at 12:30 – a TV slot it currently holds. Sky Sports is to broadcast 128 games per season, including 32 matches on Saturdays at 17:30.
“We are extremely pleased that BT and Sky continue to view the Premier League and our clubs as such an important part of their offering,” Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore said. "Both broadcasters are fantastic partners for the Premier League and have a track record of making our competition available to fans across the country through their high-quality and innovative programming. To have achieved this investment with two packages of live rights remaining to sell is an outcome that is testament to the excellent football competition delivered by the clubs. It provides them with certainty and will underpin their continued efforts to put on the most compelling football, invest sustainably in all areas, and use their popularity and reach to have a positive impact on the sport and beyond. We will now continue the sales process to deliver the best possible outcome for the remaining packages of rights in the UK and throughout the rest of the world.”
Sky said it had chosen to pay £1.193 billion per annum under the terms of the new deal, down £199 million per annum, a 16 per cent cost reduction per game versus the current agreement.
Sky has acquired the following rights between 2019/20 and 2021/22:
• The biggest head to heads with every weekend ‘first pick’ and 14 ‘second picks’
• The best slots including Saturday tea time matches, Super Sunday, Monday Night Football and Friday Night Football
• For the first time, Saturday evening matches
Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s UK Chief Executive, 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.”
Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports added: “Sky Sports customers will continue to enjoy unrivalled Premier League coverage through to 2022 with 128 live matches a season from next year – more than ever before – including the key head to heads in the best slots and, of course, analysis from the biggest names in football."
Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s Consumer division, said: “The Premier League is undoubtedly the most competitive and exciting domestic league in the world, so we’re delighted that our customers will be able to continue enjoying Saturday games on BT Sport.
The Premier League is a big part of our live sport line-up, which includes the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, the Emirates FA Cup, MotoGP, boxing, Aviva Premiership rugby and European Rugby Champions Cup.”
“BT Sport is enjoyed by over five million households and pubs and clubs across the UK. We are excited about the opportunity to bring this great content to even more TV and mobile customers as we pursue our strategy of being the best provider of converged network services in the UK.”
The rights will average around £295 million per season as the two winners of the rights will pay a deposit of £26.5 million followed by six instalments of around £145 million starting in July 2019 untio Dec 2021. Industry commentators have noted that despite more games being available, the Premier League has not significantly grown revenues over the last auction round. Analysts have suggested that this could mean that Premier league rights are reaching a ceiling above which consumers are not willing to pay for watching Premier League football. Despite the hype about FAANG getting involved which may still happen with two packages still under bidding, the Pay-TV broadcasters look to have seen of the challenge of the online giants for now.
Richard Amos, CTO of broadcast content and delivery company Ostmodern which works with some of the world’s leading sports brands commented on the rights auction - “It’s not surprising that Sky and BT remain major players in the Premier League rights race. Despite months of speculation on whether companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon would muscle their way in and win a number of packages, the internet giants remain in their infancy when it comes to penetrating the broad ecosystem that sports fans exist within.
“Streaming films and TV shows to consumers is largely possible within a closed ecosystem, but streaming sports is a very different proposition. Sports broadcasting is all about building a story by fostering continual engagement with fans, whether it’s through social media, fantasy football leagues, alternative commentary or team interviews, and tying this together to build a narrative. This is something the internet giants, who are competing to be a single destination for consumers, cannot easily provide with their current business models and sports platforms are aware of this limitation.
“The Pay TV broadcasters are safe for now, but that’s not to say they’ll be safe forever. As more and more viewers start to move away from cable packages, brand loyalty for traditional aggregators of TV will diminish over accessibility to content. Sky and BT are clearly mindful of this, agreeing a deal last year to sell their channels on each other’s platforms. But the threat of the non-traditional streaming giants undoubtedly still looms for both broadcasters, with rumours that Amazon could potentially enter the fray by picking up the remaining, somewhat less attractive, Premier League packages. Arguably, if the rumours are true it’s a smart tactic from the Football League looking to test the water by trialling Amazon’s ability to add value to the live sports experience, as the latter have with the NFL. It’s certainly interesting to see how this will play out.”