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Volume 6 No. 262
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EPL To Avoid Saturday Night Ratings War With 'Strictly Come Dancing,' 'The X Factor'

The Premier League "is considering heading off a ratings war" with "Strictly Come Dancing" and "The X Factor" by stopping its biggest fixtures from being shown in prime time on Saturdays, according to Rumsby & Wallace of the London TELEGRAPH. Ahead of "the world’s richest league going out to tender" on its U.K. TV rights for the '19-22 seasons, EPL Exec Chair Richard Scudamore "also ruled out games being broadcast on Sunday mornings or Sunday nights under the new deal." But, in a meeting with supporter representatives on Tuesday, he confirmed there would be "more live Bank Holiday and midweek matches shown, including multiple games at the same time." Having committed to making at least half its 380 fixtures per season -- 22 more than currently -- "available for broadcast" following an investigation by media regulator Ofcom into how it sells its TV rights, the EPL has held talks with its clubs about "precisely when to schedule the additional matches." Some could be shown in a new Saturday 7:45pm slot, bringing them into "direct competition with the BBC and ITV’s two biggest ratings winners," respectively, "Strictly" and "The X Factor." Scudamore told fans that he was "skeptical about the appetite the likes of Sky Sports and BT Sport would have for such a clash." One clash the league "is prepared to entertain, however, is midweek matches going head to head under the new deal," even though that that could also dilute the number of viewers watching each game (TELEGRAPH, 10/10).

SCHEDULE CHANGE: In Manchester, Stuart Mathieson reported ManU's potential Christmas Eve match at Leicester City "has been scrapped." That game in Leicester "had been eyed as a box office draw on Sunday, December 24." The Leicester Mercury reported the controversial decision "has been dumped by Sky Sports" and the game will not be played on Christmas Eve (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 10/11).