Premier League raises less from TV rights auction

Man Utd v Man City in the Premier League on 10 DecemberImage copyright
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The Premier League has seen a decline in the money raised from the sale of rights to broadcast matches in the UK.

In total BT and Sky bid £4.4bn to screen the lion’s share of 200 games for each season between 2019-2022.

That amount falls short of the £5.1bn the Premier League netted in 2015.

Two packages to show 20 midweek matches are still to be sold, but experts say it is unlikely they will raise enough to top the previous rights deal.

“I don’t think that those two packages by themselves are going to bridge the gap between what the domestic rights were sold for last time and what they’re going for this time,” said Dan Jones, head of the sports business group at the accountancy firm Deloitte.

In 2012, BT and Sky paid £3bn for the rights to show matches between 2013 and 2015, up from £1.77bn in the previous three-year cycle.

In 2015, the Premier League then took a total of £5.1bn for the next three years.

Despite the fall in the overall take for the Premier League, BT Sport will pay more to broadcast each match under its new agreement.

Sky, on the other hand, will pay less.

Sky’s share price rose 3%. BT shares edged higher.

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Kieran Maguire, a senior teacher in accountancy at the University of Liverpool, said that Sky and BT need to think carefully about what they charge viewers for the football packages.

“If you get the pricing right the subscribers will be there, but there’s not a lot of wiggle room there to go up in terms of what they are charging per month, and that’s why subscribers have been turning away,” he says.

In December, Sky and BT signed a deal to sell their channels on each other’s platforms.

Under the deal, BT agreed to supply its sports channels, which show Uefa Champions League and Europa League fixtures, to Sky.

BT was also able to sell Sky’s Now TV service, which includes Sky Sports, to its customers.

Sky’s broadcasting rights include its flagship Sunday afternoon slots and Saturday night games. BT will show Saturday lunchtime games.

How the latest Premier League deal breaks down

  • 200 games per season for three years in seven packages
  • Sky Sports has won four packages to screen 128 matches per season
  • It will pay a total of £3.5bn or £9.3m per game
  • BT Sport has one package to screen 32 matches per season
  • It will pay a total £885m or £9.2m per game
  • Two packages of 20 games each are still up for auction

How does that compare with 2015?

  • BT Sport paid £960m to screen 42 games per season, or £7.6m a match
  • Sky Sports paid £4.1bn to show 126 matches per season or £11m per game

BT said it has been “financially disciplined” during the bidding process, and that it expects to make returns through subscription, wholesale, commercial and advertising revenues.

It added that its customer base had more than doubled when it acquired EE.

Despite the fall in total take for the Premier League, Mr Jones said the deal “will still leave the Premier League as the richest league in the world by a margin”.

He added: “The Premier League still has its overseas rights to sell and the uplift in those will more than cover any shortfall in the domestic rights I expect.”

In the 2015 auction, the Premier League sold the international rights to live football games for about£3.3bn over three years, on top of the £5.1bn it raised from selling the UK rights.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “There’s two packages still up for grabs, but so far Sky is the big winner from the Premier League auction.

“Securing more games at a lower cost is a major coup, and with BT seemingly content to play second fiddle on the Premier League, that rivalry now looks to have thawed.”

Premier League raises less from TV rights auction

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