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SBD Global/January 3, 2018/Media

Disney-Fox Deal Not Expected To Deter Sky From Bidding For EPL Matches

Disney’s $66B offer for the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox, including its 39% stake in Sky, "has raised questions about the broadcaster’s strategy" when the next round of bidding for the U.K. rights to the EPL kicks off in February, according to Garrahan, Fildes & Ahmed of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The Disney-Fox deal "will take at least a year to win approval" from U.S. regulators, so it will "not have been cleared in time to sway what is expected to be a multibillion-pound auction." Both Sky and BT "are expected to submit bids" in the latest tender for football matches to run from '19-22, though the league’s execs "were playing down the prospect of a similarly large surge in value" this time around even before news broke about the Disney-Fox deal. This likelihood "increased with the recent signing of a content-sharing arrangement" between BT and Sky, which will start in '19. UBS analysts wrote in a research note, "With this reciprocal content deal, we think there is limited incentive for either Sky or BT to bid aggressively in the auction." While this "may affect the price Sky is prepared to pay" for the EPL, Mediatique analyst Mathew Horsman said that Sky "cannot afford to lose its grip on the rights." He said, "It is too unsafe for Sky, whether it is owned by Disney or Fox, to rely on a wholesale arrangement with BT to deliver sport to its customers. Sky cannot afford to not have direct ownership of the rights. The margins are nowhere near as good and the risks are huge." A "significant clause in the Premier League’s tender for bids suggests it is already thinking of new media in its future." The league said that its new rights packages would be available on a "technology neutral basis." This is "widely seen as an invitation" to digital companies. Execs at Sky "have privately suggested that they would not be able to match the financial might of Silicon Valley giants should they compete for live sport" (FT, 1/2).
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