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SBD Global/June 13, 2012/Media

EPL TV Rights Auction Goes To Second Round

The Premier League's auction of live U.K. TV rights has gone to a second round with sources indicating a new bidder, thought to be Al-Jazeera, has "entered the fray against incumbents" BSkyB and ESPN, according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. Bids for the second round of the £2B ($3B) auction for UK TV and digital rights to 154 Premier League games a season for three years starting in Aug. '13 are "due in at lunchtime" on Wednesday, with a "good chance" that the winners will be announced later the same day. The fact that the Premier League has given no news of a clear winner in the first round, and that BSkyB has been "required to submit another bid in the new auction" has led to speculation that a "potentially serious bid" from a rival has been submitted. One industry source said, "The sense is there is a new bidder out there with a potentially serious offer and everyone thinks it is al-Jazeera, although no one can be 100%." If there are clear winning bids for all the TV packages after the second round, the EPL will "possibly" announce the results Wednesday afternoon or by Thursday "at the latest," unless a third- round auction is necessary. Al-Jazeera Sports Dir Nasser al-Khelaifi has said that the broadcaster "has received" the Premier League tender and is "studying whether there is room for another sports channel in the U.K." ESPN and BSkyB have declined to comment and the Premier League "had not responded to a request for comment" by the time of publication (GUARDIAN, 6/12). In London, Chris  Forrester reports investment bank Morgan Stanley released a report saying that the upcoming EPL rights "now  look less worrying for BSkyB, with "many potential challengers dropping out of the bidding process." The bank expects the EPL rights to again be won by Sky but costing about £649M ($1B) per year (ADVANCEDTELEVISION.COM, 6/12)
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