Premier League could be broadcast on YouTube when season restarts

11 May 2020 | Broadcasting & New Media
Premier League could be broadcast on YouTube when season restarts
Some Premier League matches could be streamed for free on YouTube in order to conclude the campaign, according to reports.

Discussions have been ongoing to get 'Project Restart' off the ground and all 20 clubs are committed to finishing off the season which has been suspended since March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More talks are lined up later today and a vote will be held by Premier League representatives over proposals to resume the season after the government announced over the weekend how it intends to exit lockdown.

Currently, there are 92 games left to be played in England's top flight and it is likely that all matches will be played behind closed doors.

Football bosses want fans to be able to watch every game live, and according to The Times, there are proposals for games to be shown free on Sky Sports and BT Sport's YouTube channels. However, not all matches will be shown at the same time so as to increase audience figures.

Sky Sports, under their existing agreement with the Premier League, were handed the rights to show half of the remaining 92 games before the season was paused.

Of the 92 top-flight matches left to be played, 47 are planned to be shown on Sky, which holds the majority of the broadcasting rights. The other 45 will have to be split between Sky, BT and Amazon Prime which is also a live rights holder, although there had been no plans to give Prime more games to stream this season due to the proportion of the games they were contracted to show.

The BBC, meanwhile, is unlikely to show any live games, but they could be permitted to have more highlights packages.

The Times suggests broadcasters are opposed to the idea of scrapping relegation as it would risk making TV contracts invalid and rendering many of the games meaningless. Six clubs have so far tried to block 'Project Restart' as they want relegation to be cancelled and the season to be made null and void.

The broadcasters and government will therefore be left to thrash out a deal over how many matches would be shown on free-to-air channels such as YouTube.

As things stand, the Premier League is under pressure to finish off the season to protect the £762 million in TV money that would otherwise have to be repaid to broadcasters.

The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, revealed last month he had spoken to the Premier League over the issue of TV coverage.

He said at the time: "It wouldn't be the best signal if they were one of the first major sports to resume behind closed doors, and the public at large couldn't have access to it.

"I don't want to be in a position of issuing some blanket mandate or trying to change things round.

"But they do need to be mindful of that, and in fairness they are mindful of it."

The last time Premier League matches were shown for free was on the opening day of the 2013-14 season when Sky showed Manchester United v Swansea, while Crystal Palace v Arsenal was screened for free by BT.

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