Premier League To Schedule Matches In Primetime Saturday For First Time
Full rounds of Premier League matches "will be shown on live TV for the first time with Saturday night prime time games directly rivalling X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing," according to Martha Kelner of the London GUARDIAN. The tender document for the '19-22 seasons was issued to broadcasters by the Premier League on Thursday and "indicates an increase of 42 games on live TV, with 200 of 380 fixtures a season available." In the '19 season, there will be eight games shown live at 7:45pm on a Saturday night for the first time, "going up against prime time entertainment television for audience share." The existing rights "are split between Sky Sports and BT Sport" and cost £5.18B but with "lucrative" Saturday evening games and 20 bank holiday matches, that already "gargantuan figure will surely increase." The 200 games have been organized into seven packages for broadcasters to be bid for, organized from A to G (GUARDIAN, 12/8). In London, Murad Ahmed reported in an effort to appeal to digital groups such as Amazon and Facebook, which have recently ventured into streaming live sport, the Premier League said that its new rights packages would be available on a “technology neutral basis,” meaning it is open to only showing matches online. The Premier League said that though more games will be shown than ever before, it will maintain the “closed period” at 3pm on Saturdays -- a time when matches are not allowed to be shown on British TV. No single buyer will be allowed to acquire the rights to all the available live matches (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/8).
TAKING A HIT: In London, Martyn Ziegler reported Premier League attendances "could suffer" because of the decision to broadcast an extra 42 matches live from the '19-20 season, supporters groups have warned. The Football Supporters’ Federation said that clubs "should cut ticket prices and subsidise travel, particularly for televised midweek evening matches, to help fans." There is a "danger there could be a negative effect on attendances for some midweek games if they are all televised." FSF CEO Kevin Miles said that the group was "pleased" that the extra live games would mainly be those played in midweek. He said, "We don't want more football televised -- we thought 168 was already too much and now they are moving to 200" (LONDON TIMES, 12/9).