English soccer’s Premier League clubs have agreed to increase the number of games shown live on British television each season from 2019, according to reports in the UK.
The broadcast tender for the next domestic rights package, which runs from 2019 to 2022, is expected to be issued before Christmas, and the top-tier league’s chairmen voted unanimously in favour of making between 190 and 210 live matches available to broadcasters.
The Premier League had already confirmed to Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, that at least 190 games would be part of the next three-year rights package, but did not reveal whether chairmen had agreed for 190, 200 or 210 games to be screened live.
The number of Premier League matches shown live on TV has rocketed from 60 since 1992, and adding up to 42 live fixtures to the existing 168 is expected to lead to the introduction of a prime-time Saturday night game, alongside additional midweek and bank holiday matches.
The agreement to increase the number of live games was made on Thursday in London, at a meeting which marked the first time that all of the Premier League’s 20 clubs had come together since the ‘big six’ - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Manchester United - failed in their bid to secure a bigger share of overseas rights.
The enhanced rights package is likely to make the world’s richest league even wealthier, and is part of the Premier League’s plan to secure an increase on its current UK£5.14 billion deal with Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Internet giants Amazon and Facebook are rumoured to be considering bids, with the former recently adding the UK rights for men’s tennis’ ATP World Tour to its agreement to simulcast live coverage of Thursday night games in the National Football League (NFL) this season. The domestic rights for the Premier League are expected to be awarded by the end of February.