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Report: Premier League in private rights talks with Sky, BT and Amazon

English soccer's top flight eyes extension of existing domestic broadcast partnerships.

26 April 2021 Tom Bassam
  • Rollover deal could deliver small cut in annual rights fee
  • Broadcasters said to be open to concept
  • Legal issues unclear in wake of Brexit

The Premier League is in talks to scrap its domestic broadcast rights tender in favour of rolling over existing deals with pay-TV providers Sky, BT Sport and the Amazon Prime streaming platform, according to the Telegraph.

Executives from English soccer’s top flight are reportedly in discussions with the broadcasters and the UK government. According to the report, the Premier League is seeking to avoid the risk of a hefty blow to the value of the rights from Covid and the broadcasters are open to the idea, which may deliver a small discount in annual fee.

The report suggests that a deal worth around UK£4.7 billion (US$6.52 billion), which is similar to what the Premier League brought in from its domestic rights during the current cycle, could be achieved. Sky are currently the biggest spenders, paying UK£3.75 billion (US$5.2 billion) for 128 live games a season, while BT are spending UK£975 million (US$1.35 billion) on 52 matches a year. Amazon’s 20 matches a season cost the technology giant UK£90 million (US$90 million) in total.

The Telegraph says that the Premier League has been in discussions with the British government regarding any legal issues of a private sale. UK-based digital sports media specialist DAZN, for example, recently confirmed it would review the tender document ahead of a potential bid.

With the Premier League no longer subject to EU competition laws, the post-Brexit legal landscape is less certain and the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the spending ability of broadcasters is an added wrinkle.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has so far shown himself to be a strong negotiator in the rights market. During his tenure he has agreed a bumper contract with Nordic Entertainment (Nent) for the Scandinavian rights and secured a favourable deal for the increasingly fraught Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

On the domestic front, a channel sharing agreement struck between Sky and BT three years ago has cooled the bidding war that Masters’ predecessor Richard Scudamore was able to work to the Premier League’s advantage.

The latest bump in the road came with the Super League debacle. A separate Telegraph report recently suggested that any future broadcast deal will need firm guarantees that commit the ‘big six’ clubs – Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – to remaining in the league.

The Premier League is in talks to scrap its TV rights tender and roll over the contracts with Sky, BT Sport and the Amazon

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