Premier League TV Rights for Dummies

Premier League TV Rights for Dummies

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Thursday, 8th January 2015

With the bidding process under way for Premier Legaue televsion rights, here's everything you need to know. 

Back in 1992 Sky stunned the footballing world by paying £304 million for a five-year deal for Premier League rights. Come forward 20 years and Sky and BT’s bids combined came to an incredible £3 billion for the rights deal in 2012. In December the Premier League opened its new bidding rights for the 2016-17 to 2018-19 seasons. The cost of the bidding process is only soaring and this new set of packages to bid on will be no different.  Fans will know where they will be watching future Premier League games by March.

Depiction of costs

What’s up for grabs?

-       There are 168 live games on offer divided into 7 packages to be bid for.

-       Each package has either 12 or 26 matches.

-       The new live games being bid for can have no more than 126 matches go to a single broadcaster.


Who has the games now?

-       At the moment Sky has 116 games while BT has 38 games in the current deal.


So why can I not watch 3pm kick offs live?

While channels abroad have shown Saturday’s 3pm kick offs for a number of years, the Premier League remains focused on keeping live 3pm games from broadcasters in the UK.

Ronaldo free kick
Man Utd vs Liverpool. Licensed under creative commons

The Premier League says that live broadcasts of 3pm games could prevent some fans, especially of lower league teams, from going to games and directly harm clubs. However in order to create more incentive for broadcasters to bid, the top flight have introduced Friday night games which will start in the 2016-17 season. These 10 new Friday night games are tied into one of the 7 packages being bid for with 18 live Monday night games.  

Could this be the end of Match of the Day again?...

An area that might change dramatically is BBC’s Match of the Day. ITV are losing their Champions League rights in a separate deal next season and as a result are rumoured to want to bid for the highlights package of the Premier League. This could result in BBC losing their staple programme for a second time after they lost their highlights package rights back in 2001 to ITV for three years before being re-awarded the live package and brought Match of the Day back in 2004. 

Who's getting all this money?


Pie chart of revenue streams

The Premier League makes clear that 50% of revenue from broadcast rights gets split evenly between clubs. A quarter of the money made is given to clubs based on league position while the final 25% distributed as a facilities fee for the games to the clubs. For example Manchester City received the most money last season from the Premier League as they finished as champions and have a relatively high facilities fee.

What others have to say

In September 2014 Virgin Media complained to Ofcom about the Premier League sellling UK TV rights as 'collective' bundles, alleging that the process was against competition laws. This triggered an investigation by the watchdog which is still ongoing. They felt strongly that the number of games being bid for in the UK "is lower than some other leading European leagues, where more matches are available for live television broadcast". Virgin, which has since counted itself out of the race to secure UK matches,  argued that it is the football fans who end up paying more for fewer games as a smaller number of broadcasters gain the rights. 

In an industry which is clearly still growing rapidly there remains controversy as the Premier League continues to be an asset highly sought after by the country's biggest broadcasters. 

By Alastair Ballantyne 


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With the bidding process under way for Premier Legaue televsion rights, here's everything you need to know.