Premier League still favouring ‘territorial broadcaster’ over OTT, says Bill Bush

Premier League still favouring ‘territorial broadcaster’ over OTT, says Bill Bush
Premier League Executive Director Bill Bush has said English soccer’s top-flight will continue to favour broadcast rights deals for the foreseeable future, despite developing plans to launch its own over-the-top (OTT) streaming service.

Speaking at the Westminster Media Forum in London this week, Bush expanded on the plans recently revealed by Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters to hit the market early with a streaming product by 2022, when the next rights cycle comes into effect.

However, according to Bush, whilst the Premier League is pushing ahead with its direct-to-consumer (DTC) plans, its preference remains for distribution via traditional platforms.

“We’ve done a fair bit of direct-to-consumer testing and obviously we’d move in a flash if that’s where we thought the consumer was… but at the moment the balance is still very much with a territorial broadcaster,” said Bush.

He also added the league would face a number of hurdles if it looked to push out an OTT service in the next few years.

“We might get less money because [the broadcasters] know their market better than we do, and that’s probably right for 95 per cent of the countries that we sell into. They’re more willing to take a risk than we are. Also, they monetise it in a range of ways that are not available to us.

“We’ve got [broadcast partners] who are using the audio visual for their sports or drama, whatever it is that they’ve got in front of their public, but they’re [also] selling broadband subscriptions, telephony, mobile phone handsets.”

Bush did admit that the Premier League needs to keep a close eye on viewer demand going forward and that broadcasters should be prepared to move to a DTC model at “relatively short notice”.

“The important thing is to understand the experience the fan wants, work out how you can best bring that into the marketplace and then you want a range of people willing to bid,” he said.

“If people who want your output know you can go direct-to-consumer, then they’ll have to enter the market with that knowledge, and in a number of territories around the world, where you only have really one cable company for example, you don’t want to be hostage to a market of one.”

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