BT the surprise new entry as Premier League unveils huge rights deal
14 Jun 2012
The English Premier League has secured a huge 70% rise in the value of its domestic broadcast rights, with BSkyB and BT splashing out a combined £3.018 billion in an agreement spanning the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons.
While pay-television broadcaster Sky has retained the lion’s share of rights as expected, telecommunications firm BT is the surprise new player in the lucrative English football rights market. BT will pay £246 million per season for its two packages of live rights, which significantly include 18 first picks, around half of those available, which the company states will provide consumers with a real choice of provider for the first time when it comes to watching the best games. BT has secured access to 38 live games, including the opening game of the season, which represents a quarter of the 154 matches to be shown each season. The company says it will launch a new football-focused channel to carry the games. It will offer new interactive features when supplied over BT’s fibre network and BT said it will seek to distribute it on other platforms. Ian Livingston, BT chief executive, said: “We are pleased to have won these rights and to have secured around half of the best games on offer each season. We look forward to offering football fans real value and great quality using the latest technology. BT is already investing £2.5 billion in fibre broadband. Securing Premier League rights fits naturally with this, as consumers increasingly want to buy their broadband and entertainment services from a single provider.”
Sky has secured 116 live matches per year – the maximum allowed through the Premier League’s tender – through its deal, which will see it continue as the Premier League’s preeminent broadcaster in the UK. Sky will pay £760 million per annum for its five packages of live rights for each of the three years of the new Premier League agreement. Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s chief executive, said: “This is a good result for our customers and for our business. It means that Sky Sports remains the home of Premier League football and that viewers will continue to enjoy our live and exclusive coverage until at least 2016. In what was a very competitive tender process, we are pleased to have secured the combination of rights that we wanted, providing certainty for us and our customers. Whilst the cost is higher, we have capacity for this increase through the combination of excellent work on cost efficiency across the business and choices over other future spending. As a result, we remain confident of delivering our financial plans, in line with our expectations, unchanged, in each year of the new deal.”
While speculation of Al Jazeera’s possible entry into the UK market failed to materialise, ESPN finished as the major loser in Wednesday’s announcement. In the last auction process, Sky won five packages of live rights for 115 live matches per season, while ESPN secured one package of 23 games. All six packages were sold for a total of £1.78 billion. The Premier League’s coffers will be further swollen once internet rights and overseas sales, which brought in £1.4 billion under the current deals, are taken into account. These agreements are reportedly likely to push the value of the League’s next three-year window to over £5 billion, further cementing its position as the world’s richest league. By contrast, the German Bundesliga sold its domestic broadcast rights for four seasons from 2013-14 for £2.03 billion, marking an annual value of approximately £508 million. Commenting on the conclusion of the bid process Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, said: “The Barclays Premier League continues to provide excellent football and enthralling drama as we saw last season. The value this drives for our rightsholders is evident and we are extremely pleased that this has been realised for our UK live rights. As ever, the security provided by broadcast revenues will enable our clubs to continue to invest in all aspects of their football activities and plan sustainably for the foreseeable future. This deal allows them to keep delivering what fans want; top quality football in some of world’s best club stadia and an increasing focus on and commitment to areas such as youth development. These are exciting times for both the football and media worlds and we should all be proud of the value both industries contribute to the UK culturally and economically.”