LONDON. — England’s Premier Soccer League were yesterday due to announce a record new domestic television rights deal worth over £4 billion after a ferocious bidding war for the 2016-2019 period. BT ambitiously muscled in on what had been Sky’s exclusive territory in 2013 and the satellite giant could see its dominance eroded further amid reports of bids from America’s Discovery Network and Qatar’s beIN Sports.
Their battle cries are music to the ears of the Premier League. After a 77 percent explosion in the value of the rights three years ago, a further 50 percent increase has been predicted by British analysts. That has brought the symbolic £4 billion threshold into view, to which must be added over £2 billion from overseas rights-holders.
Candidates had until last Friday to submit offers for various packages of matches, but with little to separate the bids, a second round of the auction was triggered.
The outcome was expected to be announced either late yesterday or today.
When the rights were last up for grabs in 2012, Sky won five of the seven lots at a cost of £2.3 billion and currently broadcasts 116 of the 154 matches shown live per season in the United Kingdom. Telecommunications firm BT secured the rights to 38 games per season for £738 million, helping to arrest the company’s decline in the era of the mobile phone.
The bidding process ensures that no single channel can broadcast more than 75 percent of the 168 matches under auction.
Experts believe Sky will retain the rights to 126 matches, with BT — whose ambitious expansion plans are held in check by Britain’s telecoms regulator — hoovering up the remaining 42. However, any such arrangement could fall to pieces if a third party enters the dance. — AFP.