SBD/May 4, 2012/Media

Sky Facing International Competition For Domestic EPL Rights

Sky has broadcast EPL action since the league was created in '92
The EPL domestic rights beginning with the '13-14 season are up for bidding and industry experts are “predicting new entrants to the market to threaten the dominance of Sky,” according to Ashling O’Connor of the LONDON TIMES. Sky has broadcast games since the EPL was created in ’92, but a “serious rival could be” Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera. An additional 16 EPL games will be “screened live from the start of the 2013-14 season, bringing the total to 154 per season.” The number “proposed in a new three-year deal compares to 138 under the current agreement with Sky and ESPN.” The matches “will be split into seven packages: five packages of 26 matches and two packages of 12.” All packages "will be sold to the highest bidder, but no single buyer will be allowed to acquire more than 116 matches.” One broadcaster will be “limited to owning four of the 26-match packages plus one of the 12-match packages.” Sky currently broadcasts 115 live matches per season after it paid US$2.63B for its five packages during the last auction. ESPN “won a single package of 23 matches.” ESPN Managing Dir for Europe, the Middle East and Africa Ross Hair described a bid for domestic EPL rights from Al Jazeera as a “realistic prospect.” O’Connor notes the competition to Sky and ESPN “could maintain the value of Premier League rights against a difficult economic backdrop” (LONDON TIMES, 5/4). An EPL spokesperson said that “there was no intention to have fewer matches kicking off at 3pm on Saturdays, when no live screening is permitted, and that the extra 16 games would come from those matches moved to other kick-off times due to Europa League involvement or police advice” (London INDEPENDENT, 5/4).

INTERNATIONAL APPEAL: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Blitz & Fenton note companies will “be able to bid for the right to show the remaining 226 games of the season as ‘near live,’ beginning at 8.30pm for games played in the afternoon.” The “near-live” games will be “available for traditional ‘linear’ broadcasting and also for on-demand services, to appeal to new media groups such as Google and Apple” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/4). BLOOMBERG NEWS’ Tariq Panja noted the current global rights are worth US$2.27B, "more than some rival leagues make from their domestic contracts.” The overseas broadcast sale “will start after the U.K. negotiations conclude around June” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/3).
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